The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

One million bird watchers can’t be wrong.

One of the greatest places on earth to bird are the shores of Lake Erie during spring migration, says Kirsten Sweet, senior editor of Birds & Blooms — America’s No. 1 bird and garden magazine with one million subscriptions globally.

Wednesday, Sweet rode with staff members from the magazine’s offices in Milwaukee to Maumee Bay State Park, headquarters for the annual Biggest Week in American Birding Festival currently under way. The fest brings about 75,000 visitors from around the world for a once-a-year opportunity to spot migratory bird species as they stop off at the shores of Lake Erie before heading further northward.

The festival, hosted by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, began May 8 and runs to May 17. The festival includes birding workshops for novices and experts, tours of the Lake Erie shoreline parks and islands, a bird tattoo contest, concerts and entertainment, evening events at Maumee Bay State Park and more.

Three Oregon and two Ottawa County businesses took home honors at the 22nd Annual Prism Award ceremony at Maumee Bay State Park Thursday night, hosted by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Oregon winners were the Lucas County Clerk of Courts-Oregon Title Office for General Excellence, Sun Federal Credit Union for the Silver Award and EnPuzzlement as Non-Profit of the Year.

From Ottawa County, Varga Custom Concrete is the Small Business of the Year and Elite Team Supply the Newcomer of the Year.

Long time community volunteer Lisa Pavley was named Person of the Year and Clay High School student Will Nagy is Young Person of the Year.

EnPuzzlement is a non-profit organization that connects donations from corporate America with small community organizations that do not have the ability to receive them. Roy Badenhop is the distribution manager for the warehouse, which is located in Millbury. The nomination came from John Eisenhart, an active community member representing the board of directors of the Eastern YMCA.

Six years after purchasing the former Ohio Highway Patrol post on Lemoyne Road and converting it into an emergency operations center, the Lake Township trustees are weighing the future of the building now that dispatching services for the township will soon be handled by the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.

The sheriff’s department contract with the township for emergency dispatching service will go into effect June 3, Mark Hummer, township police chief, said.

The trustees Tuesday discussed whether or not the building and property should be sold and decided to not take immediate action.

Chief Hummer told the trustees the building could be mothballed for little cost other than heating and lighting but the 140-foot radio tower would likely need to be painted in the next year or two at a projected cost of $1,500-$2,000.

Some of the dispatching equipment is being moved to the township’s administration building on Cummings Road as a back-up to the police department’s radio system, he said.

The township purchased the post building and grounds in 2009 for $40,000 from the Ohio Department of Public Safety after the Highway Patrol opened a new Wood County post in 2007 near Bowling Green. Some residents questioned the need to buy property already funded by tax revenues but the purchase proved to be prescient in 2010 when a tornado ripped through the township and demolished the Cummings Road building. Dispatching operations had already been moved from there to the Lemoyne Road facility and, after the storm, the police department operated from Lemoyne Road until a new administration building was constructed.

The grievances of former Genoa fiscal clerk Charles Brinkman were settled in private rather than in a public forum.

Brinkman, who was fired in late March days before he was set to retire, was supposed to have a public grievance hearing during Monday’s regular meeting of village council. However, prior to that, village solicitor Brian Ballenger met with Brinkman’s lawyer, Thomas Sobecki, who specializes in employment matters, and negotiated a settlement.

Village council entered executive session Monday and then returned and voted unanimously to accept the package, according to Village Administrator Kevin Gladden.

Brinkman, 62, who worked for the village for eight years, will be reimbursed for all of his accumulated 240 vacation hours as well as 260 hours of sick leave. Gladden said. Brinkman was paid about $62,000 annually at the time of his dismissal and had accrued more than 1,000 hours of sick time. He also received a full copy of his personnel file.

Brinkman’s firing followed a number of recent missteps including missed deadlines and lost documents, according to the administrator.

One of the biggest issues of late was the forgotten payment to cover village employee’s health insurance for the first quarter of 2015. The health insurance has been restored. Brinkman insisted in two previous interviews that the error was fixed quickly and employees were not out any money. He had no other comment regarding his employment.

A community introduction of Genoa schools’ new superintendent was quiet and unassuming.

Turnout was low for the two-hour meet and greet May 3, at the Genoa Elementary School cafeteria.

“It’s beautiful out,” Principal Brenda Murphy said understandably. “People probably are out enjoying themselves.”

Still, Michael Ferguson took advantage of the time to shake hands with those present and discuss everything from his administration style to school funding.

“Welcome,” parent Jeff Trainer said extending his hand to Ferguson. “You’re coming to a community that’s awesome … and tired.” Trainer explained that it was the tail end of a long weekend that started with the elementary carnival and ended with the high school after-prom.

Ferguson is currently employed in Rootstown, Ohio, near Akron in Portage County, and will join Superintendent Dennis Mock during his last 10 days on the job in late July. Mock is retiring after 21 years with Genoa and nearly 41 years in the educational system. Ferguson officially takes over Aug. 1. His starting salary is $94,000 annually.

Rootstown is just a little smaller than the Genoa school system. Trainer has family who used to live in the Rootstown area and jokingly told Ferguson they did some checking on him.

“We called and asked ‘Are we doing you a favor?’ or ‘Are you doing us a favor?’” Trainer said referring to Ferguson’s background and his pending arrival in Comet Country.


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