The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Bob Marquette, chairman of Oregon’s Health and Welfare Committee, was

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                    Bob Marquette

honored as Person of the Year, and Gross Electric was honored on its 100th anniversary at the 17th Annual Prism Award ceremony at Sunrise Park and Banquet Center on Woodville Road.

The business awards were hosted by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, and local television news broadcaster Chrys Peterson returned as emcee.

Peterson recognized the camaraderie displayed by businesses and community leaders throughout the ceremony, despite the economic conditions locally.

“We all know that every single job is worth fighting for in this bad economy,” Peterson said.

“I was born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and when I go home I know it’s not like this — people that give you a hug and shake your hand,” Peterson continued after the ceremony.

“For those of you who grew up here, I hope you appreciate that because it’s not like this everywhere you go. We do a lot of negative news, especially in this bad economy we’re in, so it’s always good to see something positive recognized.”

Terry Breymaier, the 2009 Person of the Year, presented Marquette with the 2010 award. Breymeier was awarded mostly for his community service with Friends of Pearson Park.

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Consumer and environmental groups are opposing a proposed rate plan of FirstEnergy Corp. that has the backing of organizations representing schools, hospitals, and manufacturers.

FirstEnergy filed the plan with state regulators last week. If approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio it would set in place a schedule for how rates would be set for three years, starting in June, 2011 when the current plan will expire.

The plan would use a competitive bidding process to establish supply and prices for customers who don’t choose alternative providers. The same process was used by FirstEnergy’s operating companies, Toledo Edison, Ohio Edison, and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., last May. There would be four separate bidding sessions – one each in July and October of 2010, July 2011, and July 2012 - to determine rates.

While the plan calls for base distribution rates to remain in place, it provides for the utilities to recover the costs of property taxes, Commercial Activity Tax, income taxes as well as upgrades to distribution  systems, including substations and related equipment that were not included in the rate base determined in January, 2009.

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 Genoa school officials are hoping a pledge to remove property tax millage and reduce fees will make a 1 percent earned income tax levy on the May 4 ballot more palatable to senior citizens as well as parents with children enrolled in the Ottawa County district.
 Members of the school board and administration have scheduled a community picnic April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the high school to discuss the income tax issue and to update the public on construction plans for a new elementary school building which is being partially funded by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.
 If voters approve the income tax issue, the board plans let a 5-mill, 5-year property tax levy expire in December, 2012 – three years before it is scheduled to expire.
 “We’re trying to get the property tax off everybody’s shoulders,” Dennis Mock, school superintendent, said. “We know the economy is difficult for people and it’s really getting difficult for us.”
 Other costs will also be reduced before the start of the 2010-11 school year if the income tax is approved:
• Fees for students in kindergarten through high school will be lowered to $20 from $70.
• Pay-to-participate fees for students in sports and extra-curricular activities will be lowered to $20 from $75.
 The board plans to implement a student (K-12) pass for regular season home athletic events.
 Unlike income tax issues that Genoa voters rejected twice in 1995, this tax would only be levied on earned income.
 Income that wouldn’t be taxed includes Social Security benefits, railroad retirement benefits, disability, welfare, and survivor’s  benefits, child support, workers compensation benefits, pension and annuity distributions, IRA distributions, capital gains, federal, state, and local bond interest, and property received as a gift, bequest or inheritance.
 It will take approximately 18 months for the district to receive the full amount of revenue from an income tax, which would be in effect for five years, Bill Nye, district treasurer, said.
 He estimates it will generate about $1.5 million annually when in full effect.
 However, the district is projecting a loss in state funding of about $175,000 by fiscal 2011, Nye said, adding Genoa schools, like other districts, have seen revenues from local property taxes drop with the slumping  housing market and economy. In addition, rock bottom interest rates paid on the district’s invested funds have also hurt revenues.
 Even with cuts in spending and personnel of about $788,344 in the last school year, the district faces a deficit by the end of  the 2011-12 fiscal year without more cuts or additional revenues, Mock said.

Officials in Lake Township and the Village of Walbridge want to establish a consistent speed limit on Walbridge Road.

The township trustees plan to ask the Ohio Department of Transportation to conduct a traffic speed study on the south lane of Walbridge Road from the village limits east to the I-280 overpass – a stretch of about .2 mile – as part of a request to lower the speed limit.

Currently, the speed limit on the eastbound lane in the township is 55 miles per hour and the limit on the west bound lane in the village is 25 miles per hour.

Village officials plan to increase the limit to 35 and have asked the township to lower the 55-mile-per-hour limit to 35.

“We’ve told the village we will try (to lower the limit),” Melanie Bowen, a trustee said, after the trustees Tuesday approved a motion to request the ODOT study. “If this gets lowered it will set a precedent.”

Police Chief Mark Hummer said the different speed limits make it difficult for motorists.

“It’s very hard to enforce two separate speed limits in one roadway,” he said. “It’s not practical.”

The chief said he also plans to ask ODOT for an update on plans to lower the speed limit on State Route 51 in the township to 50 miles per hour from 55.

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Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian expects to hire a new fire chief by next month.

Seferian wants to hire a chief from within the department.

“We’ll be talking to 24-26 different people within the department,” said Seferian. “We’re going to talk to all the captains, the assistant chiefs, chief of training, and a few part-time firefighters.”

He’s also seeking input from within the department on the selection process to improve morale.

“We want to open it up to get as much input from the department itself as we can,” he said.

”Not only do I want to be happy with the appointment, they have to have an appreciation for the process so we can have a happier department, then we can work on the issues,” he said.

“We’re hoping to name a chief within the first week of April,” he added.

The position has been vacant since Fire Chief Bill Wilkins left the post last month to take a job with the state fire marshal’s office.

Assistant Chief Paul Mullin is acting chief until a replacement is found.

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