The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Local Government Innovation Fund monies have been approved for Ottawa County.

The Ohio Controlling Board has voted to release $500,000 for the county’s engineer’s office to fund upgrades to county facilities, including the highway maintenance garage.

Ron Lajti, county engineer, said the planned improvements are being designed to improve service for 11 townships and the sheriff’s department.

“The changes will facilitate a more efficient and manageable shop for both the storage and the maintenance of equipment used to benefit public entities,” he said.

A concrete floor and new heating and lighting systems will be installed, Lajti said, adding structural enhancements that will open a work area into an existing shop are also planned. The change will make the area more efficient for employees and provide better access for heavy equipment.

“All of the work to be accomplished through this loan funding will be competitively bid out to surrounding contractors,” Lajti said.

State Sen. Randy Gardner said the loan stems from a competitive state program and he credited the county and townships for “putting together a solid proposal.”

A little more than a month before Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 1 – crafted to address algal problems in Lake Erie by limiting the application of fertilizer and manure on fields in the western basin – investigators from the Paulding Soil and Water Conservation District and Ohio Department of Natural Resources were following up on a complaint.

Manure from a holding pond at the Wildcat Dairy facility, permitted to hold 2,100 cows, had been applied to a nearby field that was frozen and covered with snow. After determining application standards for spreading manure on frozen ground, as defined by agriculture pollution abatement regulations, hadn’t been followed, the investigators directed the dairy operator to cease spreading the manure and contain the run-off to stem a discharge into ditches.

The Oregon City Schools District plans to cut up to $500,000 from its budget in an effort to get a 3.95-mill operating levy passed in November.

The cuts will be realized through retirements and attrition, according to Hal Gregory, assistant superintendent of the district.

Getting the levy passed is essential, he said, because the district continues to lose money due to a reduction in property taxes and the state government phasing out tangible personal property taxes for businesses, which created budgetary shortfalls for Oregon and many other school districts in Ohio.

Voters have rejected three previous attempts by the district to get an operating levy passed.

“We’ve had three previous 5.9 mill levies on the ballot that ultimately failed. We’ve listened to the community, and we lowered the millage amount. We’re going to make additional reductions of $500,000 beginning next year that make up that gap,” said Gregory.

The district will not be replacing the following positions:
• Two central office administrators;

A graceful transition into retirement isn’t happening for former Genoa Fiscal Clerk Charles Brinkman.

Brinkman, 65, submitted his intent to retire letter earlier this year, with a target final date of March 31. The decision seemed amicable between the fiscal officer and village officials until March 30 when he was terminated from the job he has held since August 2004.

His retirement letter followed an in-house agreement for Brinkman, whose employment has been apparently been plagued with repeated clerical problems, to leave his job with dignity. But that plan fell through when Brinkman’s restrictions regarding his final days went astray, according to Village Administrator Kevin Gladden.

“From the time he turned in his retirement date he was under administrative control. He was to work with the interim fiscal clerk and he was to clean up his office,” Gladden said, adding Brinkman’s office was littered with unorganized stacks of papers and files.

As March progressed, Gladden explained, the situation worsened. The administrator did not go into further detail because of a pending May 4 grievance hearing set by village council. He said documentation would be presented at the public hearing.

The mounting tension forced Gladden to make a hard decision. His view: Time to cut losses and let the chips fall where they may.

Around noon on March 30, Brinkman was escorted from the administration building.

“It seems pretty cold,” Gladden added, “But there were other situations that arose and they were just intolerable.”

Ohio Senate Bill 1, passed by the state Legislature earlier this month, will go a long way toward reducing toxic algae in Lake Erie, supporters say.

Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law on April 2 at Maumee Bay State Park.

Last August, nearly 500,000 residents in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan were left without clean drinking water for three days after toxic algae blooms contaminated the water supply in the Western Lake Erie basin.

Rep. Michael P. Sheehy, of Oregon, called it “an important first step in protecting our most valuable natural resource for generations to come.”

“The current drought advisory in California only reinforces how precious of a resource Lake Erie is and how important it is to protect it,” said Sheehy.

Bipartisan support for the measure shows that the issue is still a priority with the public, he said.

“I am pleased we were able to come together in a bipartisan way to give the lake the attention it deserves,” he said.

The new law prohibits the application of fertilizer and manure on frozen and saturated ground within the western basin of the lake. It also will require municipal water treatment facilities to begin monthly monitoring of phosphorus by December 1, 2016. Starting on July 1, 2020, the legislation bans depositing dredged material in Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie and its tributaries.

Phosphorous and nitrogen, which are naturally present in livestock manure and commercial fertilizers, are widely recognized as a prime source of nutrient pollution that feed the growth of toxic algae. The nutrients also can be redistributed in the water column when harbor dredgings are disposed in the open waters just off shore of Toledo and other ports along the lake.

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