The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Warmer weather is generally regarded as a good thing. But for several area towns the spring season has become synonymous with melting snow and ice – and flooding.

Compounding their concerns is the possibility of ice jams.

Last year, the Village of Pemberville experienced considerable flooding problems, and there's always the fear that this could happen again this time of the year.

Not far away, the Maumee River, which has historically caused springtime problems for northwest Ohio towns like Waterville and Grand Rapids, recently pushed some big chunks of ice into the Riverside Cemetery in Maumee, which houses Civil War-era headstones. The ice chunks also damaged fences, trees, park benches and signs.

Currently, it appears as though those living along the Portage River in villages like Oak Harbor, Elmore, Woodville and Pemberville, are safe from the flooding.

One of the most exciting events taking place during this year’s Biggest Week in American Birding festival is the Birds and & Blooms Magazine Bird Day Challenge. The challenge takes the elements of bird watching, but puts a competitive twist on it.

“The Bird Day Challenge is a 3-hour birding challenge held on International Migratory Bird Day and Bird Ohio. We have two teams that try to see as many bird species as possible in a 3-hour period,” said Birds and Blooms Editor Stacy Tornio. Tornio will lead one of the two teams in the competition.

Challenges like this aren’t uncommon in the birding world, but what makes this one especially interesting is the small amount of time allotted. The time restraint poses a series of challenges for the competitors.

“Since the time is so limited, you really have to strategize how and where you spend your time. A few minutes wasted can be the difference between winning and losing,” said Tornio.

Tornio’s team will be competing against another group lead by Birds and Blooms Senior Editor Kirsten Sweet. Both teams are currently taking donations and a victory in the challenge will go even further towards helping out some very deserving groups.

The winter of 2013 saw a historic irruption of snowy owls in the East and Midwest, which sparked the creation of Project SNOWstorm. The project sought to track and map the owls, but this posed a few problems. How do you fund this project quickly? How do you go about getting usable photographs of the owls for categorization? The answer came from unlikely sources: crowd funding and internet outreach.

“Project SNOWstorm has been completely funded by the public. Both winters we’ve run crowd funding campaigns to raise small donations from people around the world,” said Scott Weidensaul, the Project SNOWstorm Coordinator.330BuckeyeFace

Though crowd funding might be something you associate with funding new technology or independent movies, using this resource allowed the team of volunteers to move quickly and capitalize on the recent irruption of the snowy owls.

“You wouldn’t have been able to do Project SNOWstorm in the normal way that science is done. It just takes too long to write grants and get funding,” said Dave Brinker, with the Maryland Department of Natural Heritage, who helped start the project with Weidensaul.

Reaching out via the internet had benefits aside from financial support, also. In order to get the amount of data required to have a complete picture, Project SNOWstorm needed high quality photographs of snowy owls, along with the date and location the picture was taken. This is where seeking out people who were passionate about wildlife and the snowy owl in particular came into play.

A public forum to discuss the upcoming levies for the Genoa School District is scheduled for April 1 at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium.

Members of the board of education and levy committee will be attending to answer questions.

Voters in the district will decide two levies on the May 5 ballot.

An additional emergency levy will generate about $1.025 million annually if approved. It would be in effect for five years and would equal approximately 6.38 mills on property owners taxes.

For the owner of a $100,000 home, it would cost about $223 a year in additional taxes.

A 5-mill, 5-year renewal levy will also be on the ballot. It generates about $400,000 and is set to expire at the end of this year. Voters first approved it in 1990.

The levy committee has also scheduled a forum for May 3 at 4:30 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.

A 5-year forecast of the district’s finances projects it will end the fiscal year on June 30 of this year with a balance of about $1.3 million. Bill Nye, district treasurer, has estimated the balance will drop to $500,000 by June 2016 and become a deficit of about $500,000 by June 2017 without additional revenues or spending cuts.

With two levy requests looming on the May ballot, the Woodmore school board is acknowledging its responsibility for the district’s dire financial situation.

Reading from a prepared statement at Tuesday’s meeting, Grant Cummings, board vice president, said the board failed in its responsibility when it repeatedly didn’t identify an error in the district’s financial statements.

“This oversight led to decisions which have now compromised our district’s financial health. We feel it is important to own up to our mistake and offer a public apology. To the students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents and community members who are impacted by our error, we are deeply sorry,” Cummings said, fighting back tears. “For the good of the district and our community, we now humbly ask for your partnership as we move forward together to solve this problem.”

The district’s 5-year forecast in May 2013 didn’t properly account for the phasing out of the tangible personal property tax, resulting in an overstatement of projected revenues by about $430,000.

The forecast was compiled by a former treasurer of the district.

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