Tuesday, August 28th, 2007


Federal flood aid on the way
President Bush on Monday night issued a federal disaster declaration for Ohio, triggering the release of federal funds to help people recover from storms and flooding.
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Findlay schools delay opening
Findlay City Schools will delay the start of the school year until Sept. 10.
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Businesses count losses ... and blessings
Teary-eyed and sporting a cowboy hat, Cathy Linhart pointed to cracks in the concrete behind her store on Findlay's Main Street.
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Corps decides to speed up study of Blanchard flooding
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin this year on a study of how to mitigate flooding along the length of the Blanchard River.
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Flood won't wash out county fair
The show will go on — several of them, in fact, when the Hancock County Fair opens Wednesday.
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'Amazing' river rescue has successful ending
MOUNT BLANCHARD — As floodwaters swept through Hancock County and raced toward Findlay last week, there were countless rescues of people caught up in swollen waterways.
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Putnam sheriff lifts emergency declaration
OTTAWA -- Monday may have been the best day for residents of Putnam County since early last week.
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Post Office service limited
Mail delivery is back on track, but the Findlay Post Office at 229 W. Main Cross St. is offering very limited service inside due to last week’s flooding.
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Findlay, Bluffton markets plan to reopen this week
Two flood-ravaged grocery stores in Findlay and Bluffton have been washed clean after last week's flood and are expecting to open their doors this week.
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Hancock County's flood costs mounting
Flood damage to Hancock County government buildings could top $1 million, County Commissioner Ed Ingold said Monday.
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Park district facilities suffer up to $75K in flood damage
Last week's flood has caused an estimated $50,000-$75,000 in damage to Hancock Park District (HPD) facilities, but the HPD office, 1424 E. Main Cross, is now open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
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Health dept. issues tips on disinfecting water wells
Amidst numerous requests from rural residents for explanations on how to disinfect a water well after flooding, the Hancock County Health Department is offering instructions and advice.
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Bluffton movie rental business opens despite flood damage
BLUFFTON — DVDs are being sanitized at a new Bluffton movie rental store which is open on a limited basis while it recovers from last week's deluge of floodwater.
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Inspections required
If you are thinking about dining at a Findlay restaurant or buying food from a grocer hit by the flood, you are safe.
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Flood briefs
Marathon opening some offices today
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Findlay bridge closed indefinitely
At least one major bridge in Hancock County will be closed indefinitely while arrangements for repairs are made, Hancock County Engineer Steve Wilson said Monday.
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Sales tax revenue level with a year ago
Receipts from Hancock County's half-percent sales tax continued to drop this month, leaving the year's revenues about level with last year's.
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Ohio EPA to hold info sessions on new Fostoria ethanol plant
FOSTORIA — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) will hold a public information session and public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5 on a draft air pollution control permit-to-install for the proposed Fostoria ethanol plant, on the east side of the city.
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Richey to be retried for murder
TOLEDO — Prosecutors plan to retry a U.S.-British citizen whose 1986 death sentence was tossed out by a federal appeals court two weeks ago, his lawyer said.
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Public Record
Docket
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Local News

Federal flood aid on the way

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

President Bush on Monday night issued a federal disaster declaration for Ohio, triggering the release of federal funds to help people recover from storms and flooding.

Two types of assistance will be available, including aid for individuals and households in six counties — Hancock, Putnam, Wyandot, Allen, Crawford and Richland.

Another assistance program will provide aid to state and local governments throughout the state.

People who want to apply for assistance must call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or apply online at www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm

Before applying by phone, people need to gather several pieces of information, including:

• Your Social Security number.

• Current and pre-disaster address.

• A telephone number where you can be contacted.

• Insurance information.

• Total household annual income.

• A routing and account number from your bank (only necessary if you want to have disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account). Look up your bank routing number.

• A description of your losses that were caused by the disaster.

After you've completed your application for assistance, you will receive a FEMA application number. Write down this number and keep it for future reference.

Money will be available to individuals and households for housing assistance and "other needs assistance."

Housing assistance can include:

• Temporary housing (a place to live for a limited period of time).

• Money to repair damage to a home, if the damage is not covered by insurance. FEMA may provide up to $28,200 for home repair, then the homeowner may apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance.

• Money to replace a destroyed home, if it is not covered by insurance.

"Other needs assistance" can provide money for uninsured, disaster-related expenses and serious needs, including:

• Money for disaster-related medical and dental costs.

• Money to repair, clean or replace clothing; household items (room furnishings, appliances); specialized tools or protective clothing and equipment required for your job; and "necessary educational materials" (computers, school books, supplies).

• Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, air purifier, dehumidifier).

• Money for repairing or replacing disaster-damaged vehicles.

FEMA officials emphasized Monday that people seeking federal aid must apply by phone or on the Web site.

One or more "disaster recovery centers" will be established by FEMA in the next 24 hours, where people can ask questions in person.

FEMA and state agencies also plan to open a joint field office in the area.

Ohio Emergency Management Agency spokesman Tom Hunter reminded people Monday that registering for assistance through the Red Cross does not qualify them for federal assistance. The Red Cross operates completely independently of FEMA. The two are not related in their efforts.

Gov. Ted Strickland had sent a formal request to the president for the federal assistance Sunday evening.

"The State of Ohio is doing all it can to offer assistance to those in need, but the need is so great that we are requesting that President Bush make Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance available immediately," Strickland said in a written statement released Monday.

An estimated dollar amount of the local flood damage was not available Monday afternoon, but the American Red Cross is estimating that about 3,000 families were affected to some degree by the flooding.



Debris collection

Findlay officials on Monday were awaiting word on when National Guard troops may be on their way to help with the cleanup effort. Mayor Tony Iriti made the formal request for Guard assistance on Friday.

But city officials are not waiting for the National Guard to start the cleanup effort. City crews began picking up flood-related debris last week, and crews from H&O Services were hired by the city and were out picking up flood trash over the weekend.

"We were supposed to give our crews a rest but we called them in over the weekend too," Findlay Service Director Mike Sobczyk said Monday.

This week, as many city employees as possible are being mobilized for the debris cleanup effort.

"We're going to be staffing offices citywide to cover normal government functions," Sobczyk said. "Any other available personnel that they have, they're going to be working with the trash-hauling crews."

Trash-hauling crews will sweep through neighborhoods as many times as it takes to remove all of the flood debris.

"A crew will go down a street in the morning and they'll go back a few hours later and it's like you never hit that street," Sobczyk said. "And that's how it's going to be for a while. This is going to be an ongoing effort."

City crews are stockpiling the flood-related debris at Emory Adams Park, but private residents should not take their flood garbage there.

In addition to leaving flood debris on the curb for pickup, citizens can take such trash to Cooper Field on Broad Avenue.

Electronics should be separated from other flood trash; they will be diverted from the landfill to the Litter Landing recycling center.

Sobczyk also wants to remind private contractors that they should not pile debris that they are hired to remove on the curb. "They should be disposing of that themselves," he said.

Contractors also should not be posting fliers on light and telephone poles. "Some of these poles have four and five (fliers) each on them," Sobczyk said. "They can't be doing that. If we see them, we're removing them."

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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Findlay schools delay opening

By Megan Schmidt

Staff Writer

Findlay City Schools will delay the start of the school year until Sept. 10.

The city school board on Monday approved the delay, after Superintendent Dean Wittwer said that many city sidewalks remain too cluttered with garbage after last week's flood to allow students to return to class.

Wittwer said he was concerned that the trash problem posed a health threat to the children, who might touch or pick up the debris while walking to school or waiting for a bus.

"I have a huge issue with having children walking to school when there's just too much trash (still sitting out), or having them waiting by piles of trash where the bus stop is," Wittwer told the board.

"I feel it's very apparent that we need to delay school for one week."

Findlay City Schools had been scheduled to begin class on Sept. 4.

Wittwer said delaying school until Sept. 10 is feasible for the district because it can take two staff in-service days it had planned for Sept. 28 and Nov. 19 and reschedule them for Sept. 6 and 7.

That way, teachers will report to school on Sept. 6 and 7, but students will not have class.

Elsewhere, the school board approved taking $1.8 million from the general fund to restore Central Middle School.

Board treasurer Michael Barnhart said the district hopes to be reimbursed for a large portion of the money it spends on repairing flood damage at the school.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) doesn't always provide relief for public schools, but the district is applying for federal assistance and hopes FEMA will fund 75 percent of the cost of repairs.

The funds will go toward paying Harris Fire and Water Cleaning Specialists, a firm which was hired to pump 5½ feet of water out of the school's kitchen and cafeteria; 18 inches of water out of lower-level administrative offices; and 12 to 13 inches out of the boiler room last week, Facilities Committee Chairman Dennis McPheron said in a report to the board.

Flooded areas must also be sanitized, he said, and wet items such as furniture must be removed and replaced.

In addition, environmental group TLL Associates has been hired to constantly monitor indoor air quality, which Wittwer said must be deemed acceptable before students can return to Central.

McPheron said that based on progress so far, he feels "confident" that the Central classrooms will be ready for students by Sept. 10, but said the administrative part of the building may take longer to reopen.

Wittwer said the hit that Central's administrative offices took was "devastating and far-reaching" and that many of the district's records have been damaged.

The board may want to "reprioritize" where to house its central offices for the future, he said.

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Businesses count losses ... and blessings

By LOU WILIN

STAFF WRITER

Teary-eyed and sporting a cowboy hat, Cathy Linhart pointed to cracks in the concrete behind her store on Findlay's Main Street.

A week ago, the pavement was in one piece, she said. Then it collapsed under the weight of the flooding Blanchard River.

That shook the foundation of House of Awards & Shoes, 209 S. Main St.

Shoes and trophies tumbled from tables and shelves where they had been stacked for safekeeping above the floodwaters.

Now, Linhart estimates her inventory losses at $100,000. Equipment used in making plaques and trophies, valued at $10,000, also was ruined.

That's what she knew on Monday. She still is checking whether more equipment may be damaged or lost.

None of her losses is covered by insurance.

Money well spent

But just three doors down, Gary Rossilli is upbeat about his Rossilli's Restaurant, which was spared a lot of flood damage.

Rossilli in 2003 raised the floor of his restaurant's dining and kitchen area for aesthetic effect.

When he applied for a permit to do so, city officials told him to raise it even one more inch than Rossilli was proposing. That would put the floor one inch higher than the flood level of 1913, they said.

Rossilli didn't like the extra cost back in 2003, but on Monday the turn of the tide tickled him.

Last week the floodwaters were about an inch shy of Rossilli's dining room floor. Standing at the top of the ramp leading to the dining room on Monday, Rossilli extended his leg, pointing his foot to a place ever so close.

"It (the floodwater) got to right about there," he said. "In hindsight, (raising the floor) is the best thing I ever did."

Rossilli recounted how last week he sat in a chair behind the restaurant looking out at his Main Street neighbors steeped in a virtual lake.

Businesses on both sides of Rossilli's were still closed on Monday.

"I feel so lucky," he said.

Then he paused.

"I feel so guilty."

Heavy burdens

Though the floodwaters have receded, they have left a variety of heavy burdens on downtown business owners.

Some, like Rossilli, have uncanny, even happy tales to tell. Others are hauling ruined carpet and soggy insulation out to the sidewalk.

Gear Source Music, which sells guitars, amps and other musical equipment at 227 N. Main St., boasted about being the first to reopen among its immediate neighbors.

It had been hit with 3-4 feet of water. But with the help of friends, owner Scott Adams and manager Tony Cole replaced walls and flooring last weekend.

Unlike many other downtown stores, Gear Source's merchandise is intact because it was removed before the floodwaters arrived last Wednesday.

Cole told Adams on Tuesday they had to get everything out.

"I expected the worst," Cole said.

He had reason to — Cole lives in Arlington, and the contents of his inlaws' home there had been destroyed by floodwaters on Tuesday.

With Blanchard River tributaries overflowing last week, Cole knew things would soon get ugly at the confluence of the streams and the river in Findlay.

Other business owners were counting on the National Weather Service for a flood warning. They feel let down by the agency.

"They really blew it," said Karl Kuhlman, who owns an auto body and radiator repair business at 136 N. Main St.

Kuhlman was prepared for about 3 feet of water. He got more than 4½ feet instead. Kuhlman lost tools, office supplies and other things.

"This downtown could have been saved. We were so misinformed," Rossilli said. "Everybody went to bed thinking it's not going to get that bad."



Trouble ahead?

Actually, some business owners may have yet to learn how bad it really is.

They are at risk of failure because of lost records and because they have yet to reopen.

Businesses which lose records and are not operational within 48-72 hours after a disaster usually fail within five years, according to CentraComm Communications Chief Executive Officer Lynn Child.

Small business owners lacking disaster recovery plans often try to put their own money into the business to sustain it. But many don't have enough assets to pull it off.

Confusion results from lost records of accounts receivable, accounts payable and other matters. Clients get frustrated and lose confidence in the company when they realize it can't handle the crisis, Child said. The clients move on.

Having run short on money and clients, the business fails, she said.



Fighting to survive

Kuhlman understands the need to reopen, and plans to do so today.

"I gotta get income," he said.

So does Streicher's Quick Print owner Tom Day. But having lost about $500,000 in copying and other equipment, the best he can hope for is to be partially open.

"It's pretty tough, but we're gonna plow through it," Day said. "It's my livelihood."

Linhart's House of Awards & Shoes was open Monday, but it will take 7-10 days before it is operating as usual. Quitting on the business is not an option, Linhart said.

"What do you do when you've done (retail business) all your life?" said Linhart, 48.

Her voice rose above the whirring of fans and dehumidifiers as she walked through her store.

"The good thing is we got a plaque order this morning that's going out to the county fair," Linhart laughed through tears.

One of her employees questioned whether the equipment that remains could handle the order. Linhart said they would figure out a way to fill the order, even if it means farming out the work to another company.

Better that than turn away an order.

"We'll get'er done," Linhart said.



Shocking news

John Snyder does not know when he will reopen Snyder's Auto Mart at 208 N. Main St.

The flood ruined 14 cars at his dealership and the wall paneling of his office. Snyder had been away on vacation when the flood struck.

"I was in Vegas and on the front page of the paper was a picture of my (flooded) business," Snyder said.

When he returned, he found looters had broken into the dealership and stolen wheels and tires.

At 66 years of age and with 35 years in business, Snyder is thinking about retirement. As he sat on his desktop Monday, his voice had a sound of resignation.

"I'm getting tired of these floods," he said.

Contact staff writer Lou Wilin at:

(419) 427-8413

louwilin@thecourier.com

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Corps decides to speed up study of Blanchard flooding

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin this year on a study of how to mitigate flooding along the length of the Blanchard River.

Army Corps officials had told the city in April that they couldn't begin funding a two-year study of the river until sometime the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

However, Findlay Mayor Tony Iriti got word from the Army Corps on Monday that the agency will begin the study this year.

"The political pressure and a hundred-year flood is what it took to get their attention," said Iriti, who had traveled to Washington, D.C. in March to request help from the Army Corps.

"I don't care who pulled the trigger, whether it was (Congressmen) Marcy Kaptur, Sherrod Brown, George Voinovich or Jim Jordan, I am very much appreciative."

Back in March, the study was expected cost about $600,000. The federal government would pick up about $350,000 of that. Findlay, and any other local government entities interested in participating, would have to come up with the remaining $250,000.

However, that's just for the study. Actual construction costs for a mitigation effort also would be split, with 65 percent covered by the federal government and 35 percent coming from local governments.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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Flood won't wash out county fair

By JOY BROWN

STAFF WRITER

The show will go on — several of them, in fact, when the Hancock County Fair opens Wednesday.

Despite massive flooding on 95 percent of the 80-acre fairgrounds during last week's storms, the annual event will begin on time and continue through Monday as planned.

On Monday, a steady stream of vendors and workers were entering the fairgrounds and joining many others who were busy cleaning and setting up.

Other than a few soggy spots and dirt-covered grassy areas, evidence of the record-tying flood was hard to see Monday.

Last Thursday, "two young Junior Fair kids came up to me crying and said, 'Mr. Thomas, there's a rumor going around that you're going to cancel the fair,'" fairgrounds operation and facilities manager Dave Thomas said Monday.

However, he claimed that even during the worst of the flooding last week, "there was never any doubt" that the fair would be held. "We wouldn't take no for an answer," he said.

Like others in town, Thomas and the fair's board members had kept a close eye on the water last Tuesday night, but never thought it would rise as high as it did.

"A lot of these guys have been here for a long time," even when the fairgrounds flooded during the 1981 fair, and they thought, "Oh, it can't go any higher than that," Thomas said.

"I left at 10 p.m. Tuesday. At midnight, our groundskeeper, Russ Browneller, called me and said 'Dave, the water is coming up higher than expected,'" Thomas said.

Overnight, Browneller became stranded in his pickup truck in a field near the race track. "A volunteer on a jet ski came and picked up my groundskeeper" about two hours later, Thomas said. The jet ski's depth meter indicated the deepest portion of water, about 12 feet, was near the creek that runs through the fairgrounds.

"Everything in this area was just devastated," said Thomas, while giving a reporter a golf cart tour on Monday.

When fair personnel were finally able to return to the grounds last Thursday morning, they found they would have their work cut out for them. Around the horse barns, the water had risen four feet, and 30 inches of water had flooded the Senior Fair office and destroyed computers, other equipment, furniture and paperwork.

"Basically we were ready for the fair to start (on paper). Just prior to that we were going through the biannual audit from the state, so we were having to deal with that too," Thomas said.

"I have learned over the last three days, there's a very fine line between bullheaded and dedicated. At first we were dedicated and then you turn just plain bullheaded about it. We were gonna keep this going for the community," said Thomas.

Others obviously felt the same way, because help soon began rolling in — lots of help from area residents, many of whom are dealing with their own property damage issues, along with people from surrounding counties.

Last Thursday night, "when it was really muggy," 25 to 30 firefighters from three area volunteer fire departments showed up with equipment and power washed every building on the grounds two or three times, Thomas said.

Every building with a concrete floor was also flushed out.

Adults and Junior Fair members stepped up too, cleaning out buildings they would use, washing down cages, sprinkling lime on stall bottoms to absorb moisture and kill bacteria, picking up debris, and dismantling fencing that was damaged.

"We had about 60 kids out here" Sunday night, Thomas said.

During Monday's tour, workers from Aukerman Septic Services of McComb drove by. Thomas said the company usually supplies the fair with portable toilets, but the workers have been voluntarily helping with cleanup too.

Many people had taken off work Monday to help. Kathy's Korner in Arcadia served more than 80 meals to cleanup crews, and fairgrounds officials from Wood, Hardin and Allen counties all had offered their assistance too.

Allen County fair officials have even loaned equipment, like animal cages and fire extinguishers, to replace items that were carried away in the current.

In fact, so many have helped clean up that Thomas said the grounds and its buildings are probably in better shape for the fair than they've ever been. "We're further ahead with the cleanup schedule than most other years. I'd hate to guess how many gallons of bleach we went through," he said.

Late Monday morning, the Senior Fair office still had chairs drying in the sun and workers from the Hancock Park District were power washing the mud from the stage at the nearby pavilion, but Thomas said no events or vendors had decided to back out because of the flooding.

"People said, 'If you're that determined to have a fair, we'll be there.'"

A three-on-three youth soccer tournament that had been in the works won't be held after all, but that's due to scheduling issues.

Currently, only about three acres normally used for parking are too soggy, but Thomas expects it all to be dried out by the weekend. "The ground is starting to firm up. They're talking good weather this week and by Thursday night, we'll probably be spraying water to keep the dust down.

"We might not be 100 percent, but we're going to put a fair on," Thomas said. "We do have some small glitches right now. People are going to have to be understanding. But there's going to be very, very few inconveniences for anyone."

According to Thomas, there had been some who thought it might be better to cancel the fair this year, particularly in light of the fact that so many are dealing with so much loss.

But Thomas and others felt that tradition and continuity should remain. "Maybe it will help with the healing. We mean no disrespect to people who have lost a lot. Maybe it'll do them some good to come here and get away from all that and distract them," he explained.

The fair "has to go on, and it is."

Contact staff writer Joy Brown at:

(419) 427-8496

joybrown@thecourier.com

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'Amazing' river rescue has successful ending

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

MOUNT BLANCHARD — As floodwaters swept through Hancock County and raced toward Findlay last week, there were countless rescues of people caught up in swollen waterways.

But none of them may have been as dramatic as the incident that began to unfold at about 10:30 a.m. last Tuesday, on the raging Blanchard River on the northwest side of Mount Blanchard near Island Park.

By the time the rescue ended, several hours later, two men whose boat had capsized and three Kenton firemen who had gone in after them, had all been pulled to safety by the Findlay Fire Department.

"It was something like you'd see in one of those rescues on television," Hancock County Sheriff's Deputy David Spridgeon said Monday. "Everyone who responded did a great job, it was really amazing to see what they did in extremely hazardous conditions."

A resident who lived in the area saw the two men, who had reportedly been "joy riding" on the river, go overboard and contacted the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, which dispatched the Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Fire Chief David Rodabaugh said the department had already been on several other calls that morning, including a rescue of a man who had driven into the Blanchard River south of the village.

"We found that guy hanging onto a tree and were able to get him out. Things were happening very fast at that time," Rodabaugh recalled, noting that between 9-10 inches of rain had fallen in the area earlier Tuesday.

"I had never seen it (the Blanchard River) that high or moving that fast."

Rodabaugh said the two men who had been in the rowboat were clinging to trees on opposite sides of the County Road 24 bridge when firemen first arrived. Initially, firefighters tried to reach the stranded men but had to pull back due to the strong current.

"We don't have a boat and aren't trained in swift water rescues," Rodabaugh said. "This was definitely swift water, so we called for assistance."

The Kenton Fire Department, which had been involved in the earlier rescue of the motorist in Delaware Township, responded to the scene, as did a crew from the Findlay Fire Department, which was handling a call in Hunter's Creek subdivision at the time.

Findlay parked Engine No. 3 on the bridge and began efforts to rescue the man on the north side using the vehicle's 75-foot ladder.

The Kenton department arrived a short time later and set up on the south side and deployed its Zodiac rescue boat.

Findlay firefighter Rob Phillips said the Findlay efforts were initially directed to the north of the bridge because the man on that side appeared to be losing his grip on a tree.

Earlier, Delaware Township firemen had stretched fire hose below the bridge, and across the river, to snag the man on the south side if he should lose his grip.

Phillips said the Findlay ladder was able to extend out to the man on the north side, but branches from the tree made it hard to get to him. The water was moving so fast, he said, it had ripped the man's clothes off.

"He was being pushed against the tree by the current which actually helped him, but the branches made it hard to get close enough to get a rope to him," Phillips said.

Phillips was eventually able to drop down from the tip of the ladder, suspended by a rope, and hook a ladder belt around the man. Other Findlay firefighters who were also positioned on the ladder then helped pull both Phillips and the victim to safety.

"We really didn't have the equipment on the truck that we would have liked to have had, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have," Phillips said. "The main thing is we were able to pull him out."

But the rescue effort wasn't quite complete.

On the south side of the bridge, the Kenton crew and run into a problem after picking up the other man. Their inflatable boat had been turned sideways and tossed into a tree, causing it to flip on its side, and throwing the man and three Kenton firemen into the water.

All four were able to grasp onto the boat, which was wedged against the tree, and were brought to safety, one at a time, after the Findlay ladder was swung that direction.

Lowering a rope and a belt, firefighters raised the men up out of the water and "airlifted" them back to the bridge. No serious injuries were reported.

"It was almost like a helicopter rescue where they drop a rope and pull them out," Phillips said. "Only we used a ladder to do it."

Phillips said the rescue was successful because "everyone did what they were trained to do," including the Kenton firemen, who were trained in swift water rescue.

"They were very much in control, but got turned around which can happen in extreme conditions like that," he said. "They realized it was a difficult situation, but felt they needed to take their best shot considering how long the man had been out there."

Phillips said the whole rescue may not have worked out the way it did without Battalion Chief Pat Ball, who lives in the Mount Blanchard area, and who helped guide Engine No. 3 to the rescue scene from Findlay.

"With a lot of the roads being closed due to the high water it was challenge just getting there from Findlay," Phillips said. "He (Ball) knew the back roads ... I don't think I could have even gotten us there."

Deputy Spridgeon said he considers every firefighter and the other first responders who showed up at the Mount Blanchard scene that morning to be heroes.

"Every person out there that day put their own life in danger and wanted to enter the water to help those two men," he said. "They worked together under very trying conditions and while it could have been tragic, it ended up working out for everyone involved."

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at:

(419) 427-8423

stevedillon@thecourier.com

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Putnam sheriff lifts emergency declaration

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

OTTAWA -- Monday may have been the best day for residents of Putnam County since early last week.

Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler lifted the Level 3 emergency declaration early in the day, and by evening President George Bush declared the county a disaster area, qualifying individuals for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Putnam County’s EMA director, Steve Odenweller, said the federal assistance will offer citizens a glimmer of hope.

“It’s something the area has been looking for,” he said in a written statement Monday. “Now, maybe the community will be able to start the rebuilding process a little easier.”

Residents and businesses are being encouraged to register with FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.fema.gov.

Josh Walters, the assistant Putnam County EMA director, said that all the roadways were clear in Putnam County on Monday and the Blanchard River remained below flood stage.

Piles of flood-damaged debris lined the streets of Ottawa.

Walters said trash pickup times in Ottawa are at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day. Flood trash bins will also be located on U.S. 224, on the eastern edge of town across from the Ottawa Veterinary Clinic, 4084 E. Main St., for homeowners outside of the village limits.

The county’s transfer station will also be accepting flood debris. It is located at 11508 Road H-11.

No appliances or hazardous waste materials should be left at the curb, or taken to the bins or transfer station.

“Ottawa is dirty, very dirty,” Walters said. “Yesterday was Day One for cleanup. We’re guessing it will take about three weeks (to complete).”

Some of the mounds of garbage were six feet tall.



Boil advisory

The boil advisory was still in effect Monday.

“They’re still checking water samples,” Walters said.

In fact, officials are checking and rechecking to make sure the water is clean before they lift the advisory. Until then, residents in Ottawa, Glandorf, Miller City and the Putnam County Water District are under the advisory until further notice.

That means all area water users should boil their drinking water. Water should be brought to a boil for a minute and cooled before using.

The Putnam County Health Department is offering free and reduced price water sampling for homeowners who have wells that have been affected by the flood. Criteria established by the Ohio Department of Health must be met in order to qualify for free sampling.

However, the health department has partnered with Alloway to offer a reduced price of $15 for any resident concerned with their water quality due to the recent flooding.

The water must be flushed and chlorinated before a water sample can be taken. Chlorination instructions can be found on the Putnam County Health Department’s Web site, www.putnamhealth.com under the “flood” link.

For more information, call the Putnam County Health Department at 419-523-5608.



Red Cross

Sarah Hermiller, the executive director of the Putnam County Red Cross Chapter, said between nine and 13 people are still staying at the Red Cross shelter at the Boy Scout building.

By day, however, many more people are asking for assistance.

“They come in and get help, get food and leave,” she said.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are in charge of mass feeding, she said, and they’re still feeding about 1,000 people a day.

The Red Cross is handing out cleaning kits and other necessities.

The Red Cross is also looking for volunteers to help. For more information, call 419-523-5910.



Donations

A donation site has also been established in the county, and a relief fund has also been established at the Fort Jennings State Bank.

Donations of non-perishable food, bottled water, cleaning supplies and hygiene supplies for Putnam County flood victims are being accepted at the Educational Service Center, which is serving as a collection and distribution site. The ESC is located at 124 Putnam Parkway in Ottawa.

People are being asked to not bring in prepared or perishable food items.

New or slightly used furniture is also being accepted at this site.

Operating hours at the ESC will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at: (419) 427-8497 michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Post Office service limited

By JOY BROWN

STAFF WRITER

Mail delivery is back on track, but the Findlay Post Office at 229 W. Main Cross St. is offering very limited service inside due to last week’s flooding.

“Our phone lines and network systems are non-operational,” a front door sign alerts customers. The main building is unable to sell stamps, weigh packages or offer any retail services inside. Customers can, however, pick up hold mail, certified mail and express mail.

Satellite offices at Meijer on Tiffin Avenue and Candle Lights on Broadway at 2641 N. Main St. are offering all postal services that the downtown building cannot handle right now, except for postal money orders, according to Findlay Postmaster Patricia Turman. Materials are picked up nightly from those sites for delivery.

Turman was standing outside the main post office late Monday afternoon, taking pictures of the dumpsters and debris alongside the east side of the post office while crews from ServiceMaster, a Tennessee-based disaster recovery service, continued to clean up and pump water out of the basement.

Everything located in the basement, including phone lines, electrical equipment, items pertaining to Findlay’s eight rural carrier routes, and “some mail,” was damaged.

The majority of the damaged mail consists of what Turman called “bulk business mail” -- or what others call “junk mail.”

“We’re still sifting through that,” she explained.

A document restoration company will be arriving to salvage any damaged mail that it can. Customers will be contacted if mail they were to receive has been irreparably ruined and can’t be delivered.

“We’re hoping by the end of this week that we’ll at least have stamp sales” at the Findlay post office, Turman said. “By the middle to end of next week, we hope to be fully operational here.”

Some structural damage did occur in the basement due to floodwaters, but to “frame walls” and not support walls, Turman said. “Demolition will occur in the basement and we’ll be restoring all that,” she said. “It’s going to be OK.”

Workers weren’t so sure about that last Tuesday, however, when the flooding began. “All the carriers were called back in (by 5 p.m. that day) because they were getting separated by the river” Turman said.

No mail was delivered in the city last Wednesday because water surrounded the post office and workers could not get to it.

“We were back on Thursday and delivering mail to areas we could reach. By Friday, we had 100 percent of our routes delivered,” she said.

Carriers, even those whose own homes sustained damage, are now “playing catch-up” as much as they can, but the upcoming Labor Day weekend may set them back slightly since Monday is a federal holiday.

Contact staff writer Joy Brown at: (419) 427-8496 joybrown@thecourier.com

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Findlay, Bluffton markets plan to reopen this week

By ERIC SCHAADT

Staff Writer

Two flood-ravaged grocery stores in Findlay and Bluffton have been washed clean after last week's flood and are expecting to open their doors this week.

Great Scot, 301 W. Main Cross St., is scheduled to open for business at 10 a.m. today, according to Fresh Encounter Vice President Todd Perry.

Fresh Encounter owns a string of area grocery stores, including Great Scot, and the Community Market on Vance Street in Bluffton.

The Bluffton store has a "tentative" target date for reopening at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Allen County health officials were making a "preliminary walk-through" of the Community Market on Monday, according to store manager Randy Seitz.

Seitz said the health officials then were expected to tell him if anything else needed to be done prior to the reopening.

Dollar estimates for spoiled goods and other flood losses have yet to be totaled at the two grocery stores, company representatives said Monday.

At both locations, frozen foods, meats, dairy products and other perishables were discarded.

"We're not taking any chances whatsoever," Seitz said.

At the West Main Cross Street store, workers at the store had braced themselves to fight the floodwaters last Tuesday night.

But the water level overcame the store.

"The water got too high outside," Perry said. "We lost pretty much the majority of meat products, frozen foods and dairy," he added.

Front windows at that business were broken, perhaps due to water wakes created by trucks traveling on water-covered Main Cross Street, according to Perry.

Those windows remained boarded on Monday.

Inside the store, goods that had been on lower level shelves were tossed out for fear of contamination.

Floodwaters also reached into motors of the refrigeration units, shorting out the motors.

Perry said the West Main Cross Street store's shelves will be "95 percent stocked" with goods when it reopens today.

For Bluffton's lone grocery store, Seitz offered a rough estimate that his store would be fully stocked in about one week.

Store workers in Bluffton, along with volunteers from Bluffton University and the community, assisted in the cleanup effort after two feet of water from Riley Creek rushed inside the business.

"We were overwhelmed with the support of the community," the Bluffton store manager said.

Contact staff writer Eric Schaadt at:

(419) 427-8414

ericschaadt@thecourier.com

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Hancock County's flood costs mounting

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Flood damage to Hancock County government buildings could top $1 million, County Commissioner Ed Ingold said Monday.

“We’re at $900,000, and that’s probably climbing,” Ingold said.

He had estimated at least $500,000 in damage to county buildings last week, but that didn’t include damage to all the buildings.

Ingold said about 10 county buildings suffered damage in last week’s flood.

“I think every building we have, with the exception of the county engineer’s building, the BMV, the Agricultural Center, and Job and Family Services -- those were the only ones that weren’t impacted,” Ingold said.

Additional county payroll costs are not included in the new damage estimate. Ingold said many county employees were working long hours through the weekend to deal with the flood.

Ingold himself has been working about 10 hours a day overseeing cleaning and repairs to county buildings, he said. Commissioners Emily Walton and Phil Riegle have been working at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on County Road 140.

By Monday, several of the modular units that will serve as temporary housing for county offices had arrived and were tucked awkwardly into Dorney Plaza while workers got them ready to be occupied.

Ingold hoped some county offices could be operating out of these units by today. By Wednesday, he hopes all the flooded offices will have been successfully relocated to their modular units.

The commissioners, the public defender office, the Hancock Board of Elections, the Hancock County health board, CASA and Adult Probation will be housed in temporary modular buildings, while the Veterans Services office will remain at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles building on County Road 140.

Ingold said repair expenses are beyond what the county can afford, and he doesn’t expect that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay for most of it either.

The county has been working on a facilities plan to help officials decide whether to construct a new building to house most of the county offices together, or leave them scattered in several buildings.

Ironically, most of the buildings hardest hit by the flood were those that county officials have debated getting rid of, anyway. Funneling money into them for repairs hurts.

“When I look at the media building (on West Main Cross Street), what needs to be done to put it back into its usual condition will be expensive,” Ingold said. “The thing about it is, where we had the most flood damage -- those were the buildings that were meant to be temporary.”

He said the county commissioners will have to decide exactly how much money they’re willing to put into buildings that they’re not sure they want. But for now, repairing them is the only alternative.

“We can’t live out of these things forever,” he said, jerking his thumb toward the modular buildings.



Landfill/trash pickup

The county landfill hours have been expanded during the flood cleanup effort. The facility will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this Saturday.

The landfill also will take household hazardous waste for a limited time during the flood cleanup. Materials that may have been contaminated during the flooding such as motor oil, gasoline, paint, kerosene, batteries, pesticides and herbicides should be separated from other waste materials and taken to the landfill during regular open hours.

The disposal of these items, which will continue through Saturday, will be subject to normal landfill fees.

Meanwhile, townships and villages in the county have submitted plans for flood trash pickup to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA), and OEMA is helping those entities get the job done with the help of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at: (419) 427-8497 michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Park district facilities suffer up to $75K in flood damage

Last week's flood has caused an estimated $50,000-$75,000 in damage to Hancock Park District (HPD) facilities, but the HPD office, 1424 E. Main Cross, is now open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.

There is currently no regular phone service. However, cell phones are being utilized by staff with a temporary phone number, (419) 722-6339. Regular telephone service is expected by mid-week, according to information from HPD Director Tim Brugeman.

After regular office hours, residents who have emergencies to report or need park assistance, may contact a service ranger at (419) 412-4924.

The flood damaged facilities, equipment and created extensive grounds cleanup, with the heaviest damage being to maintenance and storage buildings at Riverbend Recreation Area and River Landings area, according to Brugeman, and water damage to the basement at the HPD office. There was no damage reported to Oakwoods Nature Preserve or Litzenberg Memorial Woods parks.

The only HPD building with flood insurance was the Lodge at Riverbend, and it didn't receive any flood water.

Money for cleanup and repairs to HPD facilities will come from the agency's annual budget, which has already been affected by various state-mandated cutbacks. HPD will also seek disaster funds if those become available.

Several villages, which also suffered damages, have requested financial assistance from the HPD Community Parks Grants (CPG) Program. The HPD board will consider those allocations this fall. Funding for the CPG program — about $100,000 annually — comes from the HPD levy, which expires at the end of 2008.

Since parks are designed for floods, Brugeman said, there was less damage to general activity areas such as campgrounds, playgrounds and picnic areas, Brugeman stated.

However, parks in Findlay, Mount Blanchard, Jenera and Arlington all suffered some flood damage. The swimming pools in Findlay and Mount Blanchard received some damage and repair estimates are still being developed by local officials. Also, several ball fields in the parks had fence and lighting systems damaged by floating debris.

While piles of debris are located in parks along the river, there is also debris in trees and some trails have been washed out. All that damage is able to be fixed, but it will take time, he added.

Numerous picnic tables, trash cans and some HPD signs are missing, too. Anyone who sees any of these items should contact the HPD office.

Meanwhile, the watercraft rental facility at Riverside Park, operated by HPD, has been closed for the season. Boaters such stay off the river because of floating debris and the water quality. Already scheduled fall canoeing programs will be held according to river conditions.

Brugeman stated volunteers for cleanup will be sought in the future. Volunteers may call the HPD office, or contact village park committees, for information on cleanup times.

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Health dept. issues tips on disinfecting water wells

Amidst numerous requests from rural residents for explanations on how to disinfect a water well after flooding, the Hancock County Health Department is offering instructions and advice.

Residents should first remove the well cap or the vent pipe or plug if the well is equipped with a sanitary well seal. They then need to pour one gallon of household bleach (5.25 percent chlorine) directly into the well.

Next, connect a hose to a house spigot and run water directly into the well until chlorine odor is present in the water. Water should be run this way for 15 minutes.

The water supply to the hose then needs to be shut off and residents must systematically open each water fixture in the house. Let water run through each fixture until chlorine odor is present. Include both cold and hot water valves, along with valves to items like the washer, dishwasher, ice machines, etc.

Residents then need to close all valves and pour another one gallon of bleach directly into the well, recap it or place the vent pipe or plug. Leave all valves closed for a 12-hour period or longer (toilets may be flushed if needed.

Finally, after the above period of time, open the hose spigot and discharge water to ground surface or a drainage ditch until the chlorine odor disappears. Open every household fixture and let the water run until the chlorine odor is gone.

Following these steps, the well should be properly disinfected. Residents, however, should request that their local health department collect a sample of their water before using it.

The Hancock County Health Department can be reached by calling (419) 424-7869 or (419) 424-7862.

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Bluffton movie rental business opens despite flood damage

BLUFFTON — DVDs are being sanitized at a new Bluffton movie rental store which is open on a limited basis while it recovers from last week's deluge of floodwater.

Movie Gallery, at the corner of Jefferson and Vance streets near Riley Creek, is open until 5 p.m. these days while employees clean up the mess.

Regular business hours stretch to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.

About two feet of water surged into the video rental store last week.

Now, the building and DVDs are being bleached and disinfected, according to store manager Jessica Wellington. Old DVD cases have been tossed and replaced with new cases.

Shelves and walls also sustained water damage, she added.

No dollar amount to the losses has been assessed, according to Wellington.

The Movie Gallery chain opened the branch in a newly-constructed building in Bluffton on Nov. 17 last year.

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Inspections required

If you are thinking about dining at a Findlay restaurant or buying food from a grocer hit by the flood, you are safe.

Findlay restaurants and grocers affected by the flood are not permitted to reopen until passing inspection from the City Health Department, health Sanitarian Chad Masters said.

Many restaurants and food service operations in the area of the flood have reopened.

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Flood briefs

Marathon opening some offices today

Two of three downtown office buildings at Marathon Oil will reopen today, according to a company spokesman.

Both the Donnell building and the marketing building will be open, and employees who work in those buildings should return to work today.

The Marathon building, however, will remain closed. Employees who work in that building should continue to work from home unless notified by their supervisor.

Plans are in place to reopen the Marathon building at some point later this week.



New flood charity taking donations

A volunteer from a holiday gift donation charity is trying to bring Christmas a bit early to those whose homes have been damaged by last week's flood.

Patty Weaver, who has been associated with Friends of Santa, has established the Findlay Flood Recovery Aid.

Weaver is asking people with furniture and other goods not damaged by the flood to donate those items.

Her new group will accept couches, beds, furniture, canned food and other goods which will be made available to families in need.

Weaver said Monday that anyone wanting to make donations should first call her at (419) 420-0027.

She said arrangements are being made with Storage Express, 811 E. Bigelow Ave., to store these materials.

She also is seeking volunteers for this effort.

An application process is being prepared for those wanting to receive any donated furniture.



Victims assistance center established

A Hancock County Assistance Center has been established to help flood victims get in touch with the correct agencies for non-financial assistance, including clean-up, legal aid and housing information.

The county's Emergency Operations Center set up the number because that although many services are available, finding the right contact for flood victims has been difficult.

Residents affected by the flood should call the assistance center at 419-423-1432 to register your name, address, phone number and what assistance you need as a result of flood damage.

The appropriate agency then will contact you to make arrangements to assist you with immediate needs.



Health officials offer safety tips

Local health department officials are reminding people that when working with chlorine bleach and other cleaning chemicals to ensure adequate ventilation and wear protective gear such as boots, rubber gloves and goggles.

Do not mix bleach and ammonia or other household cleaners.

If you use a gasoline-powered pump, generator, pressure washer or other gasoline-powered tools to clean a home, never operate the gasoline engine inside a basement, garage or enclosed structure. Such improper use can create dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, health officials say.

Residents also should minimize standing water on their properties to help eliminate mosquito growth. Property owners should turn over or remove items that contain water such as barrels, kiddie pools, buckets and rain gutters.



Immunization clinic planned

The city of Findlay and Hancock County health departments will hold a walk-in immunization clinic today from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the cafeteria of Liberty-Benton High School, 9190 County Road 9.

The clinic is only for children who will be entering kindergarten at a Findlay or Hancock County school.

Parents should bring the child's immunization record, as accessibility to records is limited due to flooding at both health departments.

A donation of $10 per vaccine is requested, but families may donate whatever they can afford. A current medical card is also requested.



Insurance hotline hours extended

The Ohio Department of Insurance is extending its consumer hotline hours this week to assist those who suffered property damage from last week’s flooding.

Ohioans can speak with a trained representative Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. by calling 1-800-686-1526.

For additional information and tips, including a link to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), visit the Department’s Web site at www.ohioinsurance.gov.



Free cleaning supplies available

Free cleaning supplies donated by International Services of Hope (ISOH/IMPACT) of Waterville will be available to Findlay residents to pick up today.

The items include buckets, mops, cleaning solvent, rubber gloves and protective clothing.

The supplies will be distributed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Hurricane Express warehouse at 801 W. Hardin St.



McComb library taking food items

McCOMB — The McComb Public Library will be a drop-off site for non-perishable food items and paper products for the McComb Community Food Pantry this week.

Patrons will have the opportunity to donate an item in lieu of fines incurred this week. Old fines will not be waived.

The food pantry is housed in the Methodist Church and is open one Saturday a month to any McComb resident.

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Findlay bridge closed indefinitely

At least one major bridge in Hancock County will be closed indefinitely while arrangements for repairs are made, Hancock County Engineer Steve Wilson said Monday.

The bridge on East Main Cross Street over Eagle Creek in Findlay will be closed after investigations found the bridge to be unsound following last week’s flooding.

“It’s in pretty bad shape,” Wilson said.

High, rapid waters tore pieces of concrete from the bridge, leaving its stability questionable, he said. It was a bridge that was already slated for replacement with federal highway funds -- but not until 2009.

Wilson said he will begin the process of trying to expedite the project.

Another bridge -- on County Road 26 over the Blanchard River -- will remain closed as well, he said. That bridge was also in line for replacement, paid for by federal highway funds. Wilson said he will try to get that project rushed also.

The County Road 54 bridge will be opened, but only one lane, he said. Damage to the bridge was minor. The south side of the bridge will be closed while the north side of the bridge will be open, and it will operate as a one-lane bridge until it can be repaired.

Wilson said decisions have not yet been made about bridges on Township Roads 31 and 32, and the bridge in Arlington Park, which were closed after the flooding.

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Sales tax revenue level with a year ago

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Receipts from Hancock County's half-percent sales tax continued to drop this month, leaving the year's revenues about level with last year's.

The county's sales tax receipts received this month are more than 6 percent below that in August 2006.

That puts the county sales tax revenue ahead of 2006's numbers for the year by a hair — or, exactly .36 percent.

"So we're just running even for the year," said Hancock County Commissioner Emily Walton.

August's sales tax receipts actually reflect sales made in May.

Hancock County collected $483,115 in sales tax this month, compared to the $514,712 collected in August 2006.

For the year, the county has collected about $3.6 million.

After a sluggish January and February, the county enjoyed a surge in receipts in March that put the county almost 9 percent ahead of last year's numbers, and more than 33 percent ahead of March 2006.

Since then, the sales tax receipts have been unsteady and the sales tax has maintained a rapidly decreasing lead over the previous year's year-to-date number.

Last month, the sales tax receipts were almost 18 percent behind numbers for July 2006.

If the trend continues and sales tax receipts fall below last year's numbers, it would be the second year in a row that the revenue had dropped from the previous year.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Ohio EPA to hold info sessions on new Fostoria ethanol plant

FOSTORIA — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) will hold a public information session and public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5 on a draft air pollution control permit-to-install for the proposed Fostoria ethanol plant, on the east side of the city.

The program will be held in the Performing Arts Center at Fostoria High School, 1001 Park Ave., Fostoria.

A similar hearing was held Aug. 9 on a draft wastewater discharge permit.

During the public session, representatives from OEPA will present information about the draft permit and will answer questions. During the hearing, which will immediately follow the information session, the public can submit comments for the record regarding the draft permit.

The ethanol plant will be constructed at Ohio 12 and Yokum Road, Fostoria. If approved, the plant would produce up to 69 million gallons annually of fuel-grade ethanol from corn.

The federal Clean Air Act and its amendments regulate the type and quantity of materials that may be discharged to the air. The maximum allowable emission levels are designed to protect human health and the environment. These levels are set in permits issued by OEPA.

The draft air pollution control permit-to-install for the ethanol plant sets emission limits for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and particular matter.

For those who can't attend the session, the OEPA will accept comments on the permit application through Sept. 6. Anyone may submit comments or request to be on the mailing list for information. OEPA will take all public comments into consideration before deciding whether to issue or deny the permit.

To comment, or to receive information on the draft air permit, write to Jan Tredway, Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green 43402.

The application and other related materials are available for review at the Ohio EPA office, call (419) 352-8461.

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Richey to be retried for murder

By JOHN SEEWER

Associated Press Writer

TOLEDO — Prosecutors plan to retry a U.S.-British citizen whose 1986 death sentence was tossed out by a federal appeals court two weeks ago, his lawyer said.

The state decided against appealing the decision in the Kenneth Richey case to the U.S. Supreme Court and instead will retry him, said attorney Daryl Wiesen.

Richey, now 43, was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to die for setting the 1986 fire that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins in an apartment building in Columbus Grove.

Richey, who has dual citizenship, came within an hour of being executed 13 years ago. Now he has another chance to win his freedom.

The appeals court had given the state 90 days to move ahead with a new trial or release Richey.

"I hope they realize that even a retrial is a mistake, and they'll admit their mistakes and release Kenny," Wiesen said, adding that he is prepared for trial and won't ask for any delays.

"Our view is any extra day Kenny spends in prison is one day too long," Wiesen said.

Leo Jennings, a spokesman for Attorney General Marc Dann, confirmed the decision to retry the case. Dann will have no comment until he has had a chance to discuss the case in more detail with the prosecutor in Putnam County, Jennings said.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had been ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 2005 ruling in favor of Richey, found again this month that Richey received ineffective counsel in his murder trial.

The court said expert testimony could have contended that the fire wasn't intentionally set but caused by something else, such as a cigarette left smoldering.

Prosecutors said Richey set the blaze to get even with his former girlfriend, who lived in the same apartment building as the girl who died and who had a new boyfriend. They escaped the fire.

His lawyers have said that evidence casts doubts about Richey's role and whether the fatal fire was intentionally set.

Richey has maintained his innocence and drawn support from members of the British Parliament and the late Pope John Paul II.

He grew up in Scotland and became a British citizen while in prison. He came to live with his American-born father in the early 1980s.

Richey's supporters say there were numerous inconsistencies in the case against him. Two filmmakers produced documentaries questioning whether authorities thoroughly investigated the fire.

They cited, among other things, that Richey's hand was in a cast yet prosecutors said he climbed a tool shed and a balcony while carrying cans filled with the fuel for the fire.

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Public Record

Docket

The following incidents were reported to the Findlay Police Department and the Hancock County Sheriff's Office:

Police Department

Medication was missing Saturday from 1222 Crystal Glen Blvd., Apt. H.

Six girls were involved in a Saturday fracas in the 600 block of South West Street.

Domestic disturbances were investigated recently at locations on North Main Street and Foraker Avenue.

A hit-skip traffic accident occurred Sunday at 1161 W. Trenton Ave.

An unlawful entry was investigated Sunday at 102 Smith St.

A person was cited Monday for having an open can of beer in the 800 block of North Main Street.

A stereo was stolen Monday from a Chevy at 423 Clinton St.

A license plate was taken from a Dodge Ram at 1512 Misty Oaks Drive on Monday.

A female working with the local Red Cross said Monday that her wallet had been stolen from the makeshift relief center at the Cube, 3430 N. Main St.

Sheriff's Office

A Chevy was keyed at Emory Adams Park on Aug. 18.

Anyone with information about a crime can call Findlay/Hancock County Crimestoppers

between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays at (419) 425-TIPS, or visit the Web at www.

HancockCrimeStoppers.org.

Callers may remain anonymous.

Courthouse

Real Estate Transfers

Michael E. and Carolyn A. Duling to Teresa F. Collins, Lot 1454, Parlee Carlin Addition, Findlay.

Hancock County sheriff, Rex J. Daniels and Jeanne Fuerstenau to H S B C Bank USA, Lot 7, Beechwood Subdivision, Marion Township.

William J. and Jovony Schrensky to N. P. Dodge Jr., Lots 295-296, Continuation of Vance & Corys Addition, Findlay.

Federal National Mortgage Association and Fannie Mae to Scott Younger, Lot 2242, McKee Addition, Findlay.

Fannie Mae and Federal National Mortgage Association to Jason R. and Michelle A. Olmstead, Lots 2-3, West Park Subdivision Replat, Findlay.

Doris E. Bash to Jack E. and Jerry L. Bash and Cindy J. Pritt, Lot 15, Beechwood 2nd Subdivision, Marion Township.

Mamie M. Shearer to James L. Shearer, Lot 4, Original Plat Addition, Mount Blanchard.

Fire Calls

Monday

12:35 a.m., 170 Stanford Parkway, unintentional alarm.

1:40 a.m., 119 E. Front St., EMS call.

11:13 a.m., 301 Sixth St., good intent.

12:13 p.m., 201 E. Front St., EMS call.

3:26 p.m., 1515 Brookside Drive, person in distress.

3:53 p.m., 200 W. Main Cross St., false alarm.

4:17 p.m., 307 Clinton St., EMS call.

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