The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian, who is against the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority’s (TARTA) proposed .5 percent sales tax to fund public transportation, wants TARTA to revisit its request for the tax hike.

“Retailers across our region are still battling a recession,” stated Seferian in a prepared statement that was read at an Oregon council meeting last Monday. “This proposal would only succeed in making it harder for our local businesses to remain competitive. Our sales tax is already higher than many of our neighboring counties. This increase could force customers to look elsewhere.”

The half cent sales tax would replace property tax levies that currently fund TARTA.

The nine member communities in TARTA, including Toledo, Maumee, Perrysburg, Ottawa Hills, Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Rossford, Spencer Township, and Waterville, must first support the Lucas County commissioners’ recent resolution to become a member of the public transit service before the sales tax proposal can be put on the November 2 ballot. The proposal would allow TARTA to provide countywide service.

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Conservation groups are challenging the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last month to issue a water quality certification to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that allows for the disposal of up to 800,000 cubic yards of dredged sediment from the Toledo Harbor into the open lake.

The National Wildlife Federation, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Lake Erie Charterboat Association, the Izaak Walton League, and the Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association recently filed an appeal with the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC).

The groups say that dumping dredged sediments into the Western Basin of Lake Erie harms water quality, fish and aquatic habitat. The practice, which also exacerbates harmful algae blooms in the lake, increase costs to cities, businesses and people stemming from environmental damage and impacts to fishing, boating, water recreation and drinking water supplies.

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The air inside the fellowship hall at Trinity United Church of Christ in Elliston was thick – not just because of the wall-to-wall crowd and the sweltering evening heat, but also because “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest was finally about to make the announcement they’d been waiting some 13 weeks to hear.

Seacrest seemed to be talking in slow motion as, just after 10 p.m. Wednesday night, he teased, “After the nationwide vote, I can now tell you, the winner of American Idol 2010 is…”

The more than 600 people packed inside the room held their breath, waiting to exhale – hoping Seacrest would pronounce Elliston’s own Crystal Bowersox the winner.

Then he said it. “Lee DeWyze.”

The shift in the room’s energy was palpable. Some people shook their heads. One woman sat stunned, covering her mouth in shock. “I can’t believe it,” a man in the front row said.

Then as a reminder of why they were all there – to celebrate Crystal’s almost rags-to-riches success in season nine of the popular FOX series – red, white and blue balloons dropped and confetti filled the air, courtesy of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

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Library board OKs placing levy on ballot 
The board of trustees of the Harris-Elmore Public Library has agreed to seek voter approval of property tax millage in November.

The board voted last week to begin the process for placing a 1.1-mill, 5-year levy on the ballot – the first time in the library’s history it is asking for local property tax revenues, said Georgina Huizenga, library director.

If approved by voters, the issue would generate about $250,000 a year, she said, and would be used to restore cuts in the library’s operating hours, buy more materials, and replace the position of early childhood services coordinator.

Residents in the library’s service area, which includes Allen and Clay townships and all of Harris Township except for a portion in the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District, would vote on the issue.

The library has a branch in Genoa.

Due to cuts in state funding, the hours at both buildings were reduced – from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday to 12:30-7:30 p.m.  Saturday hours were reduced to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., three hours earlier than prior to the cuts. Friday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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By approving an austerity plan that reduces spending in the next school year by about $350,000, the Lake school board and administration see the district being in “survival mode,” Jeff Carpenter, district treasurer, said last week.

After conducting public forums with local elected officials, business and community leaders, and residents, board members concluded any request this year for additional property tax revenue would fail at the ballot, he said, adding the board intends to only seek the renewal of two levies in November.

“With the economy being in the shape it is, the board realized there was no chance of being successful with a levy this year,” Carpenter said. “So they’ve outlined a plan to survive through 2011-12.”

At a meeting earlier this month, the board agreed to eliminate the position of high school principal, implement an expanded early retirement incentive plan for teachers, and approve a two-year contract with the teacher’s union that includes no increases in the base pay.

The responsibilities of principal Marty Schloegl will be assumed by the high school assistant principal, the middle school principal, and the superintendent.

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