Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007


Many questions, many answers
Questions ranged from what to do about persistent mold to whether developers are allowed to add fill dirt to the flood plain during a town hall meeting Monday night with local and federal officials designed to get some answers to area residents’ unresolved flooding questions.
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Murder suspect pleads insanity
One of the defendants in the Labor Day killing of a Findlay man on East Sandusky Street has entered an insanity plea to the three charges he faces.
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Funds sought for new safety building
CAREY — Carey Council, wanting to pursue other funding options, tabled an ordinance Monday to allow the village administrator to seek a federal loan/grant combination for the village's share of a new fire/emergency medical services building.
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Arlington's new fire truck expected to be in use Nov. 1
ARLINGTON — The village's new fire truck could be ready for use early next month, the village fire chief reported Monday.
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Hancock County adopts public records policy
Hancock County recently passed a public records policy that will keep it compliant with state law, but won't change much else, said Hancock County Prosecutor Cindy Land.
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Richey bond hearing today
OTTAWA (AP) — A U.S.-British citizen whose death sentence was overturned planned to return today to the courthouse where he was sentenced to die two decades ago.
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Winds of change could be ahead for Riverdale
MOUNT BLANCHARD — Whenever the wind blows in northwest Ohio these days, William J. Frey, maintenance supervisor for Riverdale Schools, must see dollar signs.
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Permit approved for ethanol facility
FOSTORIA — The air pollution control permit for the proposed POET Biorefining-Fostoria ethanol plant, just east of the city, has been approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).
more >>
Public Record
Docket
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Local News

Many questions, many answers

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

Questions ranged from what to do about persistent mold to whether developers are allowed to add fill dirt to the flood plain during a town hall meeting Monday night with local and federal officials designed to get some answers to area residents’ unresolved flooding questions.

But questions relating to the possibility of the city using federal grant money to purchase homes damaged by August’s flood seemed to come up the most.

A standing room only crowd packed the Senior Center to ask their questions, though a few came seemingly just to vent their frustration.

A panel of seven experts fielded written questions from the crowd for about two hours. The panel included Findlay Zoning Inspector Todd Richard, Federal Emergency Management Agency Mitigation Specialist Scott Durell, Hancock Regional Planning Commission Grant Administrator Lydia Mihalik, Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Garry Valentine. Wood County Building Inspector Department official Mike Billmaier, FEMA Community Relations Specialist Manny J. Toro, and Small Business Administration representatives Tom Nocera and Travis Brown.

A number of people wanted to know how long it would take for the city purchase homes damaged by the flood.

Homes that were “substantially damaged,” meaning homes that suffered at least half their value in damages, and are in the flood way, will be put in an expedited list, which could be approved for funding sometime during the next four to six months, Mihalik said. Unfortunately, for those homes not on the expedited list, the city has not been given any answers as to when and if funds will become available.

Several other questioners wanted to know how much they could expect to be paid for their home.

Mihalik told them an independent appraiser will determine fair market value for the home. That is what the city will offer to pay -- and it will be just that, an offer. The city will not require anybody to sell their home against their will.

“The city will not exercise eminent domain authority,” Mihalik said.

Another question was what should homeowners in the flood way who experienced substantial damage do if they have already received assistance from FEMA, but the city later offers to purchase the property?

That is a tough call to make, but any assistance received from federal agencies will be removed from the purchase price of the home in order to make sure people are not being reimbursed multiple times for the same damages, Mihalik said.

However, Mayor Tony Iriti warned people that purchasing properties may not be the panacea for all the city’s flooding problems. Any buildings purchased with federal money will have to be demolished and the site has to remain vacant. That means flood walls or other possible flood mitigation devices cannot be built on that property.

“In going through all this, we’re being very judicious,” Iriti said.

Richard fielded the question about developers filling in the flood plain.

Developers building in the flood plain inside of Findlay are not allowed to bring in additional dirt which would to reduce the flood water storage capacity of a sight. That means the site has to be able to hold the same amount of flood water after the development as before hand, however, Richard said many go beyond that.

“In all the subdivisions I’ve seen over the years, they have at least added to the flood storage capacity,” he said.

The mold question, was a little more straightforward. The questioner has cleaned a particular area of a basement ceiling with bleach and water three times, but the mold keeps coming, so what should be done now?

The answer came from Durell. The solution: it’s time to remove that portion of the ceiling.

Sixth Ward City Councilman Bill Schedel requested the meeting after speaking to a couple of residents in his district.

“I think it ended up better than I hoped it would,” Schedel said. “There are a lot of questions still to be answered, but at least these guys’ doors are open.”

The couple who prompted the meeting, Mike Heyward and Leni Mueller, were, for the most part, pleased with the outcome of Monday’s meeting, but there was one aspect of the situation they felt wasn’t covered.

The two would have liked to have seen a couple of private contractors on the panel. They would have been able to answer specific questions about things like how to be sure building materials encased behind brick walls are clean and does not have to be removed. As it was, that question went unanswered.

Also contractors would have also been able to speak to what are reasonable prices for various services so people aren’t getting charged thousands of dollars for a job that should really only cost a couple hundred dollars.

“People are being overcharged by contractors,” Heyward said.

The couple asked Schedel to arrange the meeting after talking to many of their neighbors who have not been able to get straight answers to their questions from government agencies.

“People were asking questions to different agencies and getting different answers or different interpretations,” Mueller said.

Contact staff writer John Graber at: (419) 427-8417 johngraber@thecourier.com

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Murder suspect pleads insanity

One of the defendants in the Labor Day killing of a Findlay man on East Sandusky Street has entered an insanity plea to the three charges he faces.

Assistant Public Defender Ken Sass filed an innocent by reason of insanity pleading on behalf of Michael A. Kitchen, 22, 600 Grand Ave., in Hancock County Common Pleas Court on Friday.

As a result, Kitchen, who is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence in connection with the stabbing death of Jeffrey E. Harmon, will undergo mental health evaluations in Toledo to determine if he is competent to stand trial and if he suffers from some sort of mental defect.

Last week, Kitchen pleaded innocent to the charges during his arraignment and Judge Joseph Niemeyer continued the case for pretrial. No trial date has been set.

The body of Harmon, 38, was found by city police on Sept. 5 at 737 E. Sandusky St., Apt. 9, where he lived with two other men. Police have said they believe the crimes occurred on Labor Day.

Harmon died from multiple knife wounds. Police have said they believe robbery was the motive for the murder.

Joshua B. Fox, 30, also of 737 E. Sandusky St., Apt. 9, is facing identical charges in the case. He has pleaded innocent.

Police learned that Fox had left the Findlay area after the murder, and tracked him down at a relative’s residence in Rockford, Tenn. on Sept. 7.

He was returned to Ohio after waiving extradition, and bond was set at $1 million.

Kitchen emerged as a suspect shortly after the investigation began, police have said.

Kitchen also had fled Findlay, and was apprehended Sept. 9 in an unrelated local rape case. His arrest came at a residence in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Kitchen waived extradition from Indiana on Sept. 10, and was returned to Findlay later that day. Bond was set at $295,000 at last week’s hearing.

Kitchen also was indicted on five felony rape charges that were filed by a grand jury on Sept. 11. Those indictments allege he engaged in sexual conduct with a 12-year-old girl on June 30, 2006 in Findlay.

Both Kitchen and Fox are being held in the Hancock County Justice Center in lieu of bond.

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Funds sought for new safety building

By JIM MAURER

Staff Writer

CAREY — Carey Council, wanting to pursue other funding options, tabled an ordinance Monday to allow the village administrator to seek a federal loan/grant combination for the village's share of a new fire/emergency medical services building.

The new building, to be constructed on village-owned land at East North and North Patterson streets, will cost more than $900,000 and house fire and ambulance equipment under one roof. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2008.

The village is seeking $600,000 to cover its share of the expenditure, while Crawford Township will pay $180,000 and Wyandot County will provide $230,000 of the total project cost. The village total cost includes miscellaneous expenses such as engineering fees. The county and the township already have their share of the costs available.

But village officials are investigating several other funding sources: the Ohio Capital Asset Program (OCAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a loan from the local branch of Commercial Savings bank.

Clerk-Treasurer Tony Ahlberg and Village Administrator Roy Johnson have recommended the OCAP because of the fixed rate, under 4 percent, all processing fees and related costs are included, and the quick turn-around in financing. The village would have the funds by Dec. 11.

The USDA Joint Grant and Loan Agreement would provide a $50,000 grant and remainder as a loan. Village officials met last week to fill out the finance application, but the funds would take 8-12 weeks to receive the funds.

The bank hasn't presented a proposal to the village yet, she said.

Council is expected to make a decision on the financing option at its Oct. 15 regular meeting.

Council did pass an emergency ordinance allowing Johnson to seek bids and complete joint contracts (with the county and township) for the purchase and construction of the new emergency services building, upon resolution of the funding issue.

Council gave first readings to a pair of ordinances related to a federal lawsuit brought against the village by a local couple upset that village personnel had removed items from village-owned land adjacent to their property on West Brown Avenue. The lawsuit was settled earlier this year with the village paying Charles R. and Linda Tackett about $3,274, the determined value of the items removed from the land.

But, the jury in the case ruled changes were necessary in the village's property maintenance ordinance because the property maintenance inspector or the zoning inspector weren't authorized to inspect properties and report violations. Previously, only the police chief and county health department personnel were allowed to do such work.

The first ordinance read Monday implements those changes. The second one institutes an appeal process in the property maintenance code.

On another matter, Police Chief Dan Walter, a member of the Carey Sesquicentennial Committee, updated council on early plans for the celebration which will culminate at the annual Carey Fest next summer.

Because Streetscape construction in the downtown area and construction of the new fire/EMS station will be under way, the committee is considering moving the event from Findlay and Vance streets to North Patterson, north of Findlay Street, along with the parking lot area of the Carey Senior Citizen Depot on East Findlay Street.

The construction in the downtown area will mean vendors for the event will have to provide their own power source. As a result, some committee members have suggested holding the event at Memorial Park on the city's south side. Entertainment could utilize the football field at the park, too.

No decision has been made on the location and the committee will continue to meet monthly, Walter said.

In other action,

• Council approved a motion allowing Ahlberg to serve as their designee at a regional meeting on the new public records law.

• Council approved the recommendation of village officials to name Brian Spencer as water distribution supervisor. Doug Keller will continue to serve as water treatment supervisor.

• Vaughn Industries replaced the air conditioner unit at the senior citizens depot for $3,550.

• A dumpster at the corner of East North and North Patterson streets, scheduled to be removed at the end of business Friday, may be removed Wednesday if the public continues to misuse the service. The dumpster was place at the site to collect flood-related items that weren't collected during a sweep of the village during the days following the August flood. But, over the weekend, roofing materials and old tires were deposited in the area.

Contact Staff Writer Jim Maurer at:

(419) 427-8420

jimmaurer@thecourier.com

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Arlington's new fire truck expected to be in use Nov. 1

By ERIC SCHAADT

Staff Writer

ARLINGTON — The village's new fire truck could be ready for use early next month, the village fire chief reported Monday.

The truck, built by Smeal Co. in Snyder, Neb., was finished by the company after fuel lines were re-installed to the satisfaction of the Arlington Fire Department.

"It's basically what we thought we wanted to get," Fire Chief Al Latta told Arlington Council on Monday.

The truck cost $248,182. Voters approved a fire levy last year to pay for the truck.

Latta said after Monday's meeting that Nov. 1 is the tentative date which the truck could be ready for service. This month, village fire department members will be trained on using the new vehicle.

In other matters, Mayor Ed Solt said the deadline for village officials to file paperwork to seek federal flood relief aid is Oct. 11.

Arlington will apply for $300,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help pay for damages from August's flood.

Repairs were needed to a main lift station, off Main Street, which was covered by floodwaters.

Another significant flood-related project will be to clear out storm debris which has amassed in a section of Buck Run.

No dollar estimate has yet been set for the work.

In other business, council:

• Established trick or treat night from 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 29.

• May consider applying for Hancock Park District funds to add playground equipment, repaint the village pool and upgrade an outfield at one of the ball diamonds.

Contact staff writer Eric Schaadt at:

(419) 427-8414

ericschaadt@thecourier.com

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Hancock County adopts public records policy

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County recently passed a public records policy that will keep it compliant with state law, but won't change much else, said Hancock County Prosecutor Cindy Land.

"This isn't going to change anything we're not already doing," Land told commissioners last week.

Still, the county had to scramble to come up with a policy that would keep it in compliance with Ohio House Bill 9, which went into effect Sept. 29.

The state attorney general's office offered a model for local public records policies, but local governments were free to come up with their own.

Hancock County's policy specifies that records are to be provided for inspection within a "reasonable period of time" when requests are made.

And although anyone who requests a record may be asked to submit the request in writing, asked for their name, or asked what the records will be used for, the person making the request can refuse to answer. Verbal requests are allowed, according to state law.

Mailed requests are also allowed, and public officials and departments are obliged to respond "promptly" to those requests. The person requesting the records may have to pay a fee for mailed requests, however, including the cost of the envelope and the postage.

Ohio Revised Code limits the number of records a person can request by mail to 10 records a month, unless the request certifies that the records won't be used for commercial purposes. That does not include reporting or gathering news.

If it is determined someone has made an ambiguous or "overly broad" request for public records, it may be denied, but the public office must also give the requestor the opportunity to revise the original request.

Otherwise, requests may be denied if the office doesn't have or keep the requested record, or if they are not required by law to disclose that information. The office, however, must inform the person requesting the information why it was denied.

That was pretty much how the county already operated.

The only real change to county practices will be training, said Hancock County Prosecutor Mark Miller. Now, public officials and department heads will be required to attend public records training, which will be held anywhere from Toledo to Cincinnati.

Each new public official and employee will have to be sent to training.

By law, elected officials will be required to have three hours of education on the public records law for each term served in office.

However, justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Courts of Appeals, Courts of Common Pleas, Municipal Courts, County Courts, as well as clerks of any of those courts, are exempt from that rule.

The new policy is coming almost three years after a statewide audit by the Ohio Newspaper Association indicated that the way public records are handled could be improved.

However, the new policy does not refer explicitly to electronic records — or e-mails.

The old policy also did not address e-mails, and a lack of a policy in that area came under fire earlier in the year.

The county attempted in June to hash out an e-mail records policy. However, officials aren't sure what came out of that discussion.

Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold said the county's practice is to provide e-mails upon request, preferably if the requestor is interested in correspondence regarding a specific subject.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Richey bond hearing today

OTTAWA (AP) — A U.S.-British citizen whose death sentence was overturned planned to return today to the courthouse where he was sentenced to die two decades ago.

Kenneth Richey, 43, is again defending himself against charges that he set a fire that killed a 2-year-old girl in 1986. His lawyers were expected to ask a judge Tuesday to set a bond that will allow Richey to be released from the Putnam County jail while he awaits a new trial.

Richey spent 20 years on death row until a federal appeals court determined in August that his lawyers mishandled his case and that expert testimony could have contended that the fire wasn't intentionally set.

The court ordered that Richey receive a new trial or be released. Prosecutors plan to try Richey again on aggravated murder, aggravated arson and child endangering charges. No trial date has been set.

Richey, who has dual citizenship, came within an hour of being executed 13 years ago.

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. He was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to die for setting the fire in Columbus Grove in northwest Ohio that killed Cynthia Collins.

Richey 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.

His case has drawn support from members of the British Parliament and the late Pope John Paul II.

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Winds of change could be ahead for Riverdale

By DENISE GRANT

Staff Writer

MOUNT BLANCHARD — Whenever the wind blows in northwest Ohio these days, William J. Frey, maintenance supervisor for Riverdale Schools, must see dollar signs.

For the past two years, Frey has been investigating wind energy. He's looked at the wind maps and at the cost of a new wind turbine — about $1 million to $2 million for a large-scale model. It's expensive, but so are the district's utility bills, Frey says.

Riverdale currently pays about $280,000 each year for electric. Riverdale's gas bill is about $255,000 each year.

Frey says it won't take long before the wind turbine has paid for itself and begins saving the school district a lot of money. The average turbine can last up to 30 years.

Frey is proposing that a wind study be completed through an anemometer loan program, sponsored by Green Energy of Ohio, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Development and the U.S. Department of Energy. It costs about $10,000 to participate in the program.

The anemometer, a device for measuring the velocity or the pressure of the wind, would be placed on the campus for one year to measure winds at 50 meters high. The data is then analyzed to determine if the site will support a wind turbine.

Frey has already asked the school board for money to do a wind study, but the board tabled the action at its September board meeting, asking for more information.

So Frey is asking more questions and is actively looking for grant money. He says Ohio is already behind in the movement toward wind energy, but has recently started gaining momentum. Still, it could take up to five years before the turbine is actually functioning.

"Some years back the first wind towers went up at Bowling Green and this is when I started getting interested in wind power. If you go to Bowling Green on a fairly calm day, you will see the blades turning and when they are turning, they are producing electricity," Frey said.

It takes winds of only 6 miles per hour to turn a wind turbine. Maximum capacity is 15 miles per hour.

Bowling Green operates a municipal wind farm, with four turbines that stand as tall as 30-story buildings. The turbines generate enough electricity for about 3,000 residents.

Frey also points to the Spirit Lake School District in Iowa, a pioneer in wind energy.

With a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and a low interest loan from the Energy Council of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the school district erected its first wind turbine in 1993. The loan was paid back in 1998 from savings on the electrical costs.

In 2001, the school district installed a second turbine, capable of producing five times the amount of electricity as the first. In environmental terms, to produce an equivalent amount of electricity, it would take 882 tons of coal or 3,107 barrels of oil each year. The turbine also prevents 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere yearly, according to the school district.

As of this year, both turbines are paid off and the school district is saving about $120,000 annually, which is now being spent in the classroom.

"Ohio wind studies have showed that Riverdale Local Schools may be in a good wind zone," Frey said.

While it may be an unscientific measure, a walk on the Riverdale campus offers some proof.

"... Our flags are standing straight out most of the time. We have had a few months of calm weather, but generally it is windy," he said.

Frey realizes, however, that the idea is going to be a tough sell.

"... If you get ready to build a wind turbine, then there are more studies that have to be conducted," said Frey. "There are environmental issues that have to be looked at: public, aviation, radar and so on, and this also costs money."

Riverdale is already "going green" in other areas.

The district's school buses are already running on 20 percent bio-diesel.

Riverdale is also looking into recycling its cardboard and office paper; another move that will save the school district money.

More information on wind energy in Ohio can be found on the following Web sites: www.greenenergyohio.org, www.ohiowind.org or www.odot.state.oh.us.

Contact staff writer Denise Grant at:

(419) 427-8412

denisegrant@thecourier.com

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Permit approved for ethanol facility

FOSTORIA — The air pollution control permit for the proposed POET Biorefining-Fostoria ethanol plant, just east of the city, has been approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).

The permit will allow construction of the plant to begin along Ohio 12 east and Yokum Road. Site preparation has been under way at the location and now the company has to begin construction within 18 months for the permit to remain valid, according to the OEPA.

Company officials have said it would take about a year to construct the facility once all permits are approved by OEPA. Once the plant is operation, the permit limits the amount of contaminants that can be emitted into the air to maintain national air quality standards.

The plant will produce up to 69 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol annually from corn provided by local farmers.

The draft wastewater discharge permit, previously approved by OEPA, will allow up to 185,000 gallons of wastewater to be discharged per day into the Muskellunge Creek, a drainage ditch which runs along Ohio 12 in front of the facility. The wastewater discharge can only be non-process water from the plant.

The air pollution control permit for the plant may be viewed on the Internet at www.epa.state.oh.us/dapc/pti_issued_pdf_07/0317304f.pdf.

A copy of Ohio EPA's response to public comments related to the permits are available online at www.epa.state.oh.us/pic/citizen/respond.html.

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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

A man, age 20, was charged with falsification, misleading a public official and underage consumption of alcohol Sunday in the 100 block of Meeks Avenue where police had been summoned to investigate a ruckus.

Syrup, honey, flour and bologna were dumped on a Ford at 123 Second St. and ground beef was shoved into its gas tank Sunday.

A park bench next to the Donnell Stadium pond was destroyed and portions of the broken bench were tossed into the water.

A parked city-owned auto was struck by a hit-skip motorist Sunday on Eben Avenue.

Money was removed from a purse during a Sunday party at 316 Howard St.

A bicycle was swiped from 1114 Bernard Ave. on Sunday.

Twenty CDs and coins were taken from an unlocked Pontiac on Sunday at 300 Allen Ave., Apt. D.

Ruts were found Sunday in a yard at 209 Stadium Drive and a window frame was dented.

A woman, registering a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.187, was arrested for driving while impaired after a Sunday traffic mishap in the 500 block of West Main Cross Street.

A teenage guest exposed himself inside a South Blanchard Street residence Sunday.

A man was charged Monday with having drugs after a traffic stop in the 900 block of West Main Cross Street. The driver was cited for not having a driver's license.

Sheriff's Office

A domestic quarrel was investigated at an Amanda Township Road 273 location Sunday.

A Vanlue teenager was taken into custody Sunday for domestic violence after an altercation with his father inside a Main Street residence in the village.

Two burritos were thrown at a house at 105 W. North St., Arcadia, on Sept. 24.

Yard lights were uprooted Saturday outside 2024 Lonetree Drive.

Tires were slashed on a vehicle at 17164 Marion Township Road 207 while two speakers were punctured Friday.

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

Denny K. and Christy L. Jarrett to Christy L. Jarrett, Lots 8681-8682, McManness Addition, Findlay.

James O. and Sandra K. Businger to Melanie A. Fletcher, Section 1, .688 acre, Madison Township.

LaSalle Bank to Roger W. and Tammy S. Erwin, Lot 2465, Strother Addition, Findlay.

Hancock County sheriff, Marshall W. Patterson to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., Section 28, 2 acres, Cass Township.

James F. Plott to M. Darlene Plott, Section 24, .362 acre and Section 24, .346 acre, Washington Township.

John A. and Cheryl L. Larbus to Louis E. Galitza, Section 14, 2.299 acres, Eagle Township.

G A O Yang Enterprises Inc. to George M. Arnold, Lots 84-86, Colonial Park Addition, Fostoria.

George M. and Martha R. Arnold to Hancock Historical Museum, Lot 802, Vance Addition, Findlay.

James M. Schmidt to Martha J. Schmidt, Lot 161, Hillcrest Estates 2nd Addition, Liberty Township.

Fire Calls

Sunday

8:58 p.m., 1843 Tiffin Ave., good intention call.

Monday

1:09 a.m., 15100 Birchaven Lane, alarm malfunction.

1:29 a.m., 2311 N. Main St., EMS call.

3:14 a.m., 15100 Birchaven Lane, alarm malfunction.

8:53 a.m., 2413 Jennifer Lane, EMS call.

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