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2009: Goodbye to tight money and a contentious election
Written by John Szozda   
Thursday, 07 January 2010 16:52

Oh nine was not fine, by anyone’s definition. The economy was in the tank, flooding again swamped us, and schools, government and businesses struggled to retain jobs and services.

Unemployment in our four counties at the end of 2009 ranged from 10.3 percent in Wood County to 14.6 in Ottawa County. Thus, home and new car sales were down again. However, on the bright side, the bottom is in sight and deals are plentiful. The biggest deal occurred in the fall when a New York businessman bought the Woodville Mall on the cheap for $700,000. The mall once served as this area’s town hall. Lately, management neglected it and its few remaining merchants had little to celebrate at the mall’s 40th birthday party. In fact, there was no party.

There wasn’t any party either at Spangler’s in Oak Harbor, or Eisenhour’s in Pemberville. Both were victims of contracting dealership networks. Spangler, founded in 1950, lost its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep franchise and Eisenhour, founded in 1924, lost Chevrolet. Both, however, will continue selling and servicing used cars.

 
City of Northwood should keep red light cameras
Written by John Szozda   
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:45

Northwood has convinced me its red-light cameras are more about safety than revenue. That wasn’t always the case.

Oh, there’s revenue. Most goes to Redflex, the company that supplies the cameras. I estimate more than $2 million in five years was diverted from our local economy and sent to Arizona.

Consider, however, most of those fines were incurred in the first two years. Consult the chart above and you’ll see that in the last three years motorists have slowed down and accidents have decreased, nine percent at Woodville and Lemoyne and 47.6 percent at Oregon and Wales, according to Northwood police.

Police Chief Tim Cairl said that between 2003 and 2005, when photo enforcement started, the Oregon-Wales intersection experienced 27.7 accidents annually. But, after the city spent $55,642 of red-light camera revenue to install a continuous right turn lane from Wales onto Oregon, accidents declined to an average of 14.5 over the two year period of 2007 and 2008. There have only been 6 accidents in 2009, but Chief Cairl attributes that to the closing of the northbound access ramp to I-75.

 
Midnight Ponderings:
Written by John Szozda   
Monday, 28 December 2009 09:24

Threatening to eliminate sports now a failed levy strategy?

One cold, snowy night last week I found myself listening to the screech and scrape of the snow plow while these midnight ponderings kept me from a good night’s sleep.

No levy, no sports, no mas.
The threat of eliminating sports to gain levy support worked so well for so long all school boards adopted it. That is, until residents of the Lake School District refused to capitulate during seven levy attempts between 2004 and 2006.

While the Lake board did not eliminate all sports, it did cut tennis and hockey. And, other schools fearing Lake would not have a football team scheduled other teams resulting in two shortened football seasons.

To support the athletic program, the board started charging students a $150 participation fee for the first sport and $125 for the second.

Still, residents said no.

 
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