The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


To the editor: The recent defeat of the emergency levy for Oregon City Schools, while disappointing, certainly sent a message that property owners are either unable or unwilling to continue to fund education primarily from their pocketbooks.

It is therefore crucial that school board and community members work together to explore innovative funding methods. The Oregon BP refinery’s generous $200,000 gift to our district, which will offset transportation fuel costs for this school year, is a perfect example of community partnership. This donation will not solve Oregon City Schools’ current financial crisis. However, it does indicate that the local refinery recognizes the overwhelming financial hurdle facing this community in its struggle to fund education during these trying times.

As a resident of Oregon, I commend and thank the leaders of the British Petroleum refinery not only for their financial support, but for their wisdom as well. I hope there are other businesses ready to follow the example set by this community partner. Providing a quality education for the children of this country is the responsibility of all Americans.
Sherry Shaheen

A different world
To the editor: As a teenager and young man, the older generation criticized us. Today I am 79 and now I’m going to take my shot.

Have you noticed that boys and young men don’t whistle these days? Know why? Their music stinks. It’s all noise and drum beat and you can’t whistle a drum beat.

Women were our moral police force. They would never stand for the sex and foul language we see and hear on TV and in the movies today.

If two people had moved in together in my old neighborhood without being married, the old ladies would have gotten together and burned their house down. Today, the boyfriend will often move in with her, into her parents’ home. Wow.

Today, our young ladies have won their equal rights with men and now they dress in trousers and act and talk like men. They often use the foulest language in public. Their drinking and driving has exploded. I’m glad for the ladies winning their equal rights, but I don’t like some of the side effects.

I grew up in a neighborhood of athletes and athletics kept us out of trouble. The bad boys who got in trouble with the law were non-athletes. Today, it is the athletes who get in trouble with the law. I don’t understand.

Rap singers need to have their mouths duct taped shut whenever they get the urge to sing.

I see kids get eight or 12 years of religious education but when they turn 18, they stop attending church.

I see young guys that look like they aren’t worth the powder to blow them to hell and I think to myself, “If I could, I’d make them watch John Wayne movies and draft them into the army to shape them up.”

Every time I criticize young people I meet the most talented young people.

My generation was much better as fathers than my father’s generation. I see that my son’s generation and my grandson’s generation are much better fathers than me and my generation.

Come right down to it, our young people are terrific, but it’s a different world out there.

God help us.
Louis Agoston

To the editor: Health insurance was a major percentage of the township budget, costing Jerusalem Township approximately $60,000 per year. In March, a motion came to the floor regarding the high cost of health care coverage and reducing the amount of the premiums. During March and April meetings, there were discussions about the possibility of the elected officials volunteering to give up their insurance, which would, in turn, not affect the two employees but would drastically reduce the cost to the township. Joe Gray and I volunteered, but when Joe Kiss was asked if he would voluntarily give up his insurance coverage so the employees would be able to continue their coverage, Mr. Kiss replied, “No, absolutely not.”

Trying to figure out a way to reduce the cost of insurance was in no way a plan to do away with health care for the employees, but a way to save the township money. Ask yourself which trustees were fiscally competent in this situation.

After the motion to cancel the health insurance was passed, I completed extensive research to find other ways to provide insurance at a much lower cost to the township. After doing my homework, the new plan that I proposed will save the township about $40,000 per year. Although Mr. Kiss was very angry about losing his health care coverage, he never offered any alternative solutions.

Mr. Kiss has publicly made comments that the other trustees including myself brought back health insurance because we were “getting pressure” from people and because it’s an election year. To be completely honest, residents I have talked with in the township are happy about saving the township $40,000. The only one I heard squawking about the health care was Mr. Kiss at every trustee meeting. Election year or not, for me, it’s about the budget.

Do the residents of Jerusalem Township know that none of the township fiscal records are in the township office? I have personally requested many times that Jerusalem Township fiscal officer Julie Van Nest bring the township records back to the township office. At the office, the records would be secure under camera surveillance. The fire department is located across the parking lot; the sheriff is on location, and the township office is not in a floodplain.

I completely question the current safety and integrity of our township records. I also disagree with the entire township file system at her home, which is in a floodplain, without surveillance and has no fire protection on the same lot.

Do the residents of Jerusalem Township know that Ms. Van Nest also has several people helping her with her required duties? To the best of my knowledge, none of these people are bonded. Within 30 days of taking office, Ms. Van Nest gave herself a pay raise of $82 per month, which is the maximum amount allowed by law.

Ms. Van Nest has reported that she will only be attending the minimum required amount of trustees’ meetings, which according to the Ohio Revised Code is one meeting per quarter. In the 100-year history of the township, we have never had a clerk/fiscal officer that performed the minimum amount of work. Is that really what the township residents elected her to do? The ORC requires that public records are available for inspection at reasonable times during regular business / administrative hours, which Ms. Van Nest does not keep.

If clarification is needed on any check submitted for disbursement and the fiscal officer is not in attendance, that has delayed payments. There have been numerous occasions the township has been assessed late fees. Is that fiscally competent? When someone is elected to an office by the people, for the people, do you think the minimum requirements completed are acceptable?
Rodney Graffis
Jerusalem Twp. Trustee

Editor’s Note: We gave Ms. Van Nest the opportunity to respond to the allegations made by Mr. Graffis. Here is what she had to say:

I keep the necessary records at my home, which are needed to complete my job duties. The remaining township records are at the township hall. It is a well known fact that many fiscal officers throughout the state have home offices as well as hold full-time positions outside of their homes. As the statute states, the fiscal officer is responsible for the safety and keeping of the records. When I made the decision to bring the needed records to my home, I was not convinced of their security at the township hall. Have we ever really determined who has keys to the office and files as well as the combination to the safe? Does the security camera scan the entire township hall area and parking lot, or is it in a stationary position? I understand that up until recently, the camera wasn’t even working. At this time, we all have police protection. But what happens to this protection after the first of the year? At that time, will we even have protection throughout the township? My home also was recently inspected by a state certified fire inspector and a written report is in process. Official records from the Lucas County Engineer’s Office show that my home office is above the 579’ flood plain. We also carry adequate flood and homeowners insurance to cover property and the contents of our home.

Although none of the elected officials of the township have regular business/administrative hours, I am available to anyone upon request to review records whether at my home or at the township hall. I have also encouraged residents and/or officials time and time again to contact me with questions.

Per the Lucas County assistant prosecutor’s office and the Ohio Auditor, my one volunteer clerical assistant does not need to be bonded. This person records the minutes at the regularly scheduled trustees meetings and does not deal with any financial aspects of the township. This clerical assistant receives no compensation from the township as in the past administration. I am currently abiding by the Ohio Revised Code and my attendance at the meetings will resume if and when the board of trustees discontinue their grandstanding and badgering during these meetings.

The salary of the township fiscal officer is determined by the Ohio Revised Code and the budget of the township. At the April 22, 2008 meeting, the board of trustees made a motion to approve my salary and that figure currently remains the same.

As requested by trustees, checks are available for their review 48 hours prior to a meeting. Two trustees’ signatures, as well as my own, are required on a check in order to make it legal. Mr. Kiss and Mr. Graffis will sign checks. Although Mr. Gray will make a public motion to approve payments of the bills, he will not sign a check. This has been a continual battle since I took office. Their lack of communication with me can be attributed to this delay of payments. How many special meetings have been held just to pay the bills and get our withholding taxes paid on time due to their lack of cooperation?
Julie Van Nest
Fiscal Officer
Jerusalem Township




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