Saturday, September 1st, 2007


Red Cross to close city shelter
More than 20 displaced flood victims still living at Findlay's Red Cross shelter have been told they must find another place to live by 6 a.m. Monday, the shelter residents said Friday night.
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SBA leader encourages use of 'recovery center'
U.S. Small Business Administration Chief Steve Preston visited Findlay and Carey on Friday, urging flood victims to go to local Disaster Recovery Centers to get aid more quickly and easily.
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Flood cleanup work doesn't require permit, officials say
Findlay property owners hit by last week's flooding don't need any sort of permit to begin cleaning up.
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New flood assistance efforts announced
Flood cleanup and recovery continues in Findlay and Hancock County, and the United Way of Hancock County has released information on several new and ongoing community efforts:
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Disaster center in Putnam County
OTTAWA — In Putnam County, cleaning has begun and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has moved in, which means the disaster recovery process is in full swing.
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County offices functioning with limited capabilities
Hancock County offices weren't what they were before the flood this week — some operated without telephones or computers — but they were operating, said Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold.
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Back In Business
The following Findlay area businesses, closed by last week's flooding, have announced their reopening:
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Flood Briefs
Insurance chief warns of flood scams
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Area 'pullers' gearing up for the fair
Herb Rettig doesn't "pull" as much as he once did, but he still plans on getting his tractor out of the barn this weekend and taking it to the Hancock County Fairgrounds.
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Award-winning pair
Nathan Strasbaugh made it look easy this week as he reined his pony and horses to titles at the Hancock County Fair.
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Ag society to vote on fair board seats Monday
Members of the Hancock County Agricultural Society on Monday will decide two races for seats on the county fair board.
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Balmy weather boosts fair attendance
Helped by balmy weather, the Hancock County Fair enjoyed "above average" attendance on its third day Friday.
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Parson homecoming planned for Sunday
FOSTORIA — A homecoming event will be held Sunday for local man Shane Parsons, who was severely injured in Iraq in 2006.
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Government offices closed Monday; no trash pickup
Findlay and Hancock County government offices will be closed Monday in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
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No newspaper on Monday
The Courier won't be published on Monday, in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
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Richey to be retried
COLUMBUS (AP) — A county prosecutor has agreed to retry a U.S.-British citizen whose 1986 death sentence was tossed out by a federal appeals court earlier this month, Attorney General Marc Dann's office said Friday.
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Man arrested after using stun gun on ex-girlfriend 20 times
A Findlay man was arrested by city police early Friday after a bloody altercation with an ex-girlfriend at a local motel.
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Fostoria woman sentenced to 5 years for drug trafficking
TIFFIN — Luwana Engler, 42, formerly of Hayes Street, Fostoria, was sentenced to about five years in prison after she was found guilty of trafficking in crack cocaine during a recent appearance before Judge Steve Shuff in Seneca County Common Pleas Court, Tiffin.
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Public Record
Docket
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Bike path meeting rescheduled for Sept. 8
A public open house about the new bike path project, which will connect the trail from downtown to Riverside Park, has been rescheduled for 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, in the Findlay High School cafeteria.
more >>
Local News

Red Cross to close city shelter

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

More than 20 displaced flood victims still living at Findlay's Red Cross shelter have been told they must find another place to live by 6 a.m. Monday, the shelter residents said Friday night.

Putnam County's shelter is closing today.

The Red Cross will provide the first month's rent and deposit for an apartment, Hancock County Red Cross Director Judy Cantwell said.

But the flood victims said rent for the apartments accepting the Red Cross vouchers are too high for them.

"They're giving us a list of apartments," said shelter resident Kris Gonya, whose East Hardin Street apartment was destroyed in the flood. "But most of them are too expensive."

Even if the Red Cross supplies the first month's rent and deposit, many shelter residents said they wouldn't be able to afford the rent in later months on their salaries.

Before the flood, most of these people had jobs and places to live, but lived within limited budgets.

Finding new apartments with rents they can afford takes more than a week or two, they said Friday.

"How do you put together your whole life when it's been destroyed — in 10 days?" asked a shelter volunteer, Todd Taylor. Taylor does not volunteer with the Red Cross, he said, but is working at the shelter as a citizen.

Although the remaining shelter residents said they are free to find cheaper housing on their own, the Red Cross will only be able to help them if their new landlords are willing to take the Red Cross vouchers.

More than 20 — and possibly more than 30 — flood victims were still living at the shelter, at the Cube on North Main Street, Friday night.

Cantwell said that 21 people had stayed Wednesday night.

Among the displaced flood victims are pregnant women, and families with children. Most of them were low-income people who were scraping by before the flood, and who now face replacing a large percentage of their personal belongings, in addition to finding a new place to live.

That takes more money and time than shelter residents say they have available so far.

Amy Valentine, whose Center Street home flooded, has five kids.

"I can't get another place under $600 a month," she said. She was paying $550 a month before the flood.

Jeffrey Vandevort, who was paying $200 for a room on Shinkle Street, said he doesn't know if he'll be able to go home at all. He lived within his income before the flood, but would have a monthly rent increase of at least $200 in one of the apartments suggested by the Red Cross.

Even so, the shelter residents said it's not the Red Cross they blame. The Red Cross has treated them very well, they said, providing meals and bedding every day along with as much help as it can provide.

Some, like Gonya, blame the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is now occupying part of the Cube. Since FEMA arrived, the shelter residents said, the rules have changed.

Although the Red Cross had promised since early last week that the shelter would remain open as long as people needed it, the agency announced it would close its doors after FEMA arrived, the shelter residents charged.

Rules around the shelter have changed, too.

Residents were once allowed to come and go as they pleased, but now there's a curfew at night and residents aren't allowed to stray beyond the porch of the Cube.

HATS, which was once transporting displaced flood victims for free, is back to charging $1 for a ride.

That may not all be due to FEMA's presence, but it's a swift change for shelter residents who are still reeling from a flood that's not quite two weeks old.

One of the cheaper options for the shelter residents — moving to the City Mission — was not a popular idea Friday.

The City Mission has curfews, separates men and women, and makes people go to church, they said, and they'd rather not be forced to live there.

"It makes you feel like you did something wrong," Vandevort said of the City Mission.

Cantwell said the Red Cross will help the shelter residents find alternate housing — apartments and mobile homes being two of the alternatives.

Some shelter residents were homeless to begin with — at least three had been living under a bridge in Findlay when the flood forced them out. Cantwell said the Red Cross will try to help them, but there's only so much the agency can do.

"If some people choose to stay homeless, there's not a whole lot we can do about that," she said.

Meanwhile, shelter residents, and those who sympathize with them, are already making plans for the weekend. Most will hunt for a place to live, but on Sunday at 11 a.m. they plan to protest the limited help they've received in front of the Hancock County Courthouse.

"What's more important to the country, its people or its government?" Gonya asked. "The people are the ones who support the government."

Taylor added that it seems like the government let the poor down again, like it did after Hurricane Katrina.

Barry Louderback, a shelter resident whose Meeks Avenue home flooded, works for Rainbow International in Findlay, a company that cleans buildings and homes after disasters. He said he's seen many Findlay houses whose foundations have collapsed — and many people are displaced.

Some people, however, have enough money to get on their feet in two weeks' time, or have relatives with whom they can stay. For those who don't, the future is uncertain.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Louderback said.

Any Findlay residents impacted by the floods who have unmet needs can call 1-866-GET-INFO to speak with an American Red Cross representative.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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SBA leader encourages use of 'recovery center'

By LOU WILIN

STAFF WRITER

U.S. Small Business Administration Chief Steve Preston visited Findlay and Carey on Friday, urging flood victims to go to local Disaster Recovery Centers to get aid more quickly and easily.

The centers, gateways to federal and state aid for residents, businesses and farmers, opened Friday in Findlay at the Cube, 3430 N. Main St.; and in Ottawa, Bluffton and near Carey.

The centers' normal hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday (including Labor Day) and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

To underscore how pivotal the centers are in helping people get their lives back to normal, Preston, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and other federal and state officials stopped at the Disaster Recovery Center at the Cube.

"We really encourage people to go to one of our disaster centers," Preston said.

Flood victims who go to a recovery center will receive their assistance faster, he said.

The centers are staffed with workers representing federal and state agencies who can reduce confusion over forms and types of aid available. Departments represented at the centers include the Small Business Administration (SBA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

FEMA offers grants to individuals for a variety of flood-related costs. SBA offers loans to homeowners, renters and businesses, counseling for small business owners, and other assistance.

About 80 percent of the money which the SBA lends goes to homeowners and renters.

Preston said people should not assume that having a savings account, other assets or a line of credit will prevent them from getting aid.

"I would encourage you to go through the initial application process," he told a woman at the Cube.

Some local business owners expressed concern that they would be rejected for aid because they lost records in the flood, making it difficult for them to support their claims.

If current inventory statements or supplier invoices are gone, the most recent ones can be used to help "re-create" conditions when the flood hit, said Travis Brown, an SBA field operations officer.

SBA officials said photos taken of property conditions before the flood, right after it or during the repair process are valuable for documentation.

Some Findlay business owners expressed concerns that they have begun making repairs and want to complete them without waiting for the SBA's approval.

Brown said they should go for it.

"You don't have to wait on us," he said. "You do what you have to to get started."

Residents and businesses should save all flood repair receipts, said SBA Public Information Officer Tom Nocera.

Typically, applications for SBA loans are approved within one to two weeks for residents. Applications for businesses can take two to three weeks because they tend to be more complex.

Once the application is approved, the loans are available within a few days to a week.

Contact staff writer Lou Wilin at:

(419) 427-8413

louwilin@thecourier.com

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Flood cleanup work doesn't require permit, officials say

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

Findlay property owners hit by last week's flooding don't need any sort of permit to begin cleaning up.

"We encourage people to ... get rid of the mold potential and get things dried out," Findlay Zoning and Flood Plain Administrator Todd Richard said Friday.

"I'm still talking to people who think they can't do anything and they can. It's not until they begin the repair or reconstruction do they need a permit."

It's perfectly fine to remove carpet or tear out drywall without a permit, though everyone is encouraged to take pictures or video footage of the damage before they start cleaning up.

If, however, they want to demolish (completely raze) a structure, people need a demolition permit, which costs $20. A flood development permit is also issued at the same time, free of charge.

Findlay and Hancock County residents of flood-damaged homes in the 100-year flood plain are also supposed to have a flood development permit before they begin any repairs or reconstruction, regardless of how it is funded, according to Richard.

To apply for a permit, or to verify that a structure is located within the flood plain, Findlay residents should contact the city's zoning office at 419-424-7108. Residents outside the city should contact the Hancock County Engineer's Office at 419-422-7433.

'Substantial damage' eyed

Members of the Ohio Building Officials Association (OBOA) have started to perform inspections of buildings that may have sustained "substantial flood damage" in Findlay.

They are only looking at buildings in the 100-year-flood plain. If your home or businesses is not in the 100-year-flood plain, OBOA officials will not inspect it.

"Substantial damage" has occurred when the cost of restoring a structure to its before-damage condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.

Once the building officials' damage reports are processed, the city zoning office will issue flood development permits for repair work to uninsured properties in the flood plain that have not sustained "substantial damage."

Owners of structures that are not "substantially" damaged will not have to fill out an application for the permit; they will automatically be mailed.

The owners of "substantially" damaged, uninsured structures will have to fill out an application for the permit. They must submit two itemized contractor estimates along with an acceptable estimate of the market value appraisal of the structure prior to the flood.

Owners of flood-insured property that has "substantial damage" must also submit an application for a permit. They will need to submit a damage estimate from their insurance adjuster, or two itemized contractor repair estimates, along with an acceptable estimate of the market value of the structure prior to the flood.

If an insured structure has not sustained "substantial" damage, flood development permits will be mailed to the property owner.

Any property that has sustained "substantial" damage must be reconstructed or repaired according to the requirements set out in a city flood damage reduction ordinance. This work may include elevating the structure above the base flood elevation, filling in basements or venting crawl space areas. Commercial properties may be required to be dry flood-proofed.

A list of "substantially damaged" properties will be published in The Courier. Those owners must call the city zoning office at 419-424-7108 in order to determine which regulatory standards will apply to them.

Any structure to be demolished must have a zoning permit for the demolition ($20 fee) and a flood development permit (no fee).

Meanwhile, Findlay flood victims can contact the city health department at 419-424-7105 with any plumbing questions or to obtain a water heater permit.

The owners of commercial buildings that sustained flood damage must contact the Wood County Building Inspection Department at 419-354-9190 or 419-424-7116.

The Wood County Building Inspection Department has established a satellite office in Room 304 of the Findlay Municipal Building, 318 Dorney Plaza.



Debris pickup

Meanwhile, city crews continue picking up flood-related debris. The debris that the city has been piling at Emory Adams Park, before taking it to the Hancock County Landfill, should be completely gone by the end of the weekend.

A drop-off site for hazardous materials damaged in the flood — such as tires, electronics and paint thinner — is located in the parking lot across from the city streets department, 330 N. Cory St.



FEMA

By Thursday night, 4,134 households and businesses in Northwest Ohio had registered for aid with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to FEMA spokesman Randy Welch.

Federal officials have responded so far by approving $1.3 million in assistance, Welch said. Assistance awarded so far includes $1.1 million in grants to 280 households for repairs and/or alternate, temporary housing. That comes to about $3,857 per household.

In addition, another $286,439 has been approved to help with other disaster-related needs such as medical expenses, transportation costs and personal property losses not covered by insurance or other assistance programs.

Thirty-nine FEMA inspectors completed 459 inspections in the first three days of their work.

FEMA disaster recovery centers in Hancock, Putnam, Richland, Allen and Wyandot counties are now open. The center serving Hancock County is located at the Cube, 3430 N. Main St. in Findlay.

Other area recovery centers have opened at the following locations:

Putnam County — Putnam Education Center, 124 Putnam Parkway in Ottawa.

Allen County — Bluffton Baptist Church, 345 County Line Road, Bluffton.

Wyandot County — Wyandot County Solid Waste Recycling Center, 11329 County Highway 4, Carey.

The centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday (including Labor Day) and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Flood victims are being encouraged to register with FEMA before going to a disaster recovery center. They can register by calling FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing impaired, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. seven days a week, or by going online at any time to www.fema.gov.

Property owners who have been repeatedly hit by floods or experienced "substantial damage" during the latest flood may be eligible for an "Increased Cost of Compliance" grant worth up to $30,000 to help pay the costs associated with demolishing, elevating, or relocating residential structures or flood-proofing non-residential structures.



Unemployment assistance

People affected by the recent flooding in Hancock, Putnam, Allen, Crawford, Wyandot and Richland counties are eligible for additional unemployment benefits through the state Job and Family Services Department. The deadline to apply for the extra benefits is Sept. 26.

Eligibility for unemployment compensation is broadened under the disaster unemployment assistance program to include people who, as a result of the disaster, no longer have a job, are unable to reach their place of employment, were to have started new employment but could not, or cannot work because of injury. Self-employed individuals and farmers who are not covered by unemployment insurance may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance benefits.

Individuals who have exhausted unemployment compensation eligibility may also qualify for disaster unemployment assistance.

Applications for these benefits may be filed by calling toll free at 1-877-644-6562 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applicants should be prepared to provide a Social Security number and driver's license or state identification number as well as the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all of their employers within the past 18 months.



Loan help

Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray was in Findlay on Friday to announce a new, $50 million program to help flood victims taking loans from private banks to pay for flood-related costs.

Once a loan is secured through a bank, individuals can apply for the "linked deposit" program, which reduces the amount of interest charged.

"It effectively buys down your interest rate by 3 percent," said Holly Hollingsworth, a spokeswoman for Cordray's office.

A second component of the program, funded with $500 million, gives priority consideration to businesses and farmers who apply for interest rate reductions on bank loans through the "small business linked deposit" program.

To apply for the program online, visit www.ohiotreasurer.gov, then click on the "linked deposit" link at the top of the page.



Natural gas

Meanwhile, about 640 homes in Findlay were still without natural gas service Friday. Columbia Gas employees are working to restore service on a first-call, first-served basis. Crews cannot restore service until customers notify the company that the water is out of their basement and their gas appliances have been either cleaned or replaced.

Customers may call the company's emergency phone number at 1-800-344-4077 to report an emergency or schedule an appointment to have service restored.



Who to call?

Following are other helpful phone numbers that area flood victims can call:

To register for disaster assistance (for federally declared disasters), call 800-462-9029.

For general flood insurance information, call 800-427-4661.

For copies of flood maps and flood insurance studies, call 800-358-9616.

For information about the hazard mitigation grant program and flood mitigation assistance, call the Ohio Emergency Management Agency at 614-889-3530.

For information about reconstruction of residential and non-residential structures, manufactured home installation and non-residential flood proofing, call 614-265-6750.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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New flood assistance efforts announced

Flood cleanup and recovery continues in Findlay and Hancock County, and the United Way of Hancock County has released information on several new and ongoing community efforts:

The United Way is reminding citizens to use the county's Flood Assistance Center for help with cleaning and other recovery work. There are no restrictions on receiving assistance at the center. The phone number is 419-423-1432. Phones will be answered throughout the Labor Day weekend and on Monday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A United Way Flood Relief Fund has been established by Fifth Third Bank, which will be used to assist flood victims in Hancock County.

There will be a school supply drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Wal-Mart. Parents who need school supplies for their children can sign up to receive items, which will be distributed Thursday from 6-8 p.m.

The First Federal Bank Chicken Barbecue United Way fundraiser, which was scheduled for Sept. 7, has been postponed. A new date has not been set.

Vision Service Plan (VSP), a national eye care benefit provider, has joined forces with the American Red Cross to help bring vision services to the victims of the flood. Individuals who have lost glasses due to flooding should report this loss to the Red Cross at Owens Community College.

Gifts In Kind International is requesting information about individuals in the area who have lost appliances due to flooding. Anyone with a loss of items can call the Flood Assistance Center to be placed on a request list, but there is no guarantee that items will be replaced.

Many individuals have no lawnmowers due to flood damage. Findlay City School teachers will be providing lawn mowing services early next week. Call the Flood Assistance Center to request assistance with lawn mowing.

Flood cleanup kits are still available at Hurricane Express Trucking Co. (801 W. Hardin St.) If individuals have already picked one up but need another, they are encouraged to get more.

Individuals are being advised to not pick up, move or attempt to relocate any headstones at cemeteries. Volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are assisting with headstone cleanup, and the City of Findlay will bring in experts to replace fallen headstones.

The church volunteers have also filled all requests from the city for disinfecting playgrounds, which should be done by the end of today.

Free shredding is available for nonprofit groups at the VFW on Walnut Street. Confidentiality will be maintained.

A truckload of food will be given away to anyone in need on Monday morning. The truck will be parked at the Family Center, 1800 N. Blanchard St. Call the Flood Assistance Center for more information.

The county will be offering well water testing beginning Tuesday for $20. Call the county commissioners' office at 419-424-7044.

Sue Davies at the Salvation Army is handling requests to adopt families affected by the flood. People wanting to adopt and those needing to be adopted should call her at 419-422-8238.

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Disaster center in Putnam County

OTTAWA — In Putnam County, cleaning has begun and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has moved in, which means the disaster recovery process is in full swing.

FEMA's Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is now open in the county, located at the Educational Service Center on Parkway Plaza, across from the YMCA. Its hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Agencies at the DRC will be FEMA, the Small Business Administration, Putnam County Job and Family Services, American Red Cross and the State of Ohio Insurance Agency.

People affected by the flooding in Putnam County may be eligible for assistance through FEMA by applying either at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or www.fema.gov. You must register to get assistance.



Volunteers needed

Volunteers are needed in the cleanup and recovery process.

About 475 volunteers were working at 50 different locations in the county, according to a prepared statement from the Putnam County Office of Public Safety, but more are needed.

The Volunteer Center is located at the Educational Service Center. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. To volunteer, call 419-523-3288.

Cash donations are being accepted, along with donations of buckets, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food and hygiene products. However, no more clothing is needed.



Cleanup

Debris is still being removed from Ottawa, the townships and throughout the county. Debris pickup times are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today; there will be no pickup Sunday or Monday. Pickup will resume Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.

The County Transfer Station is located at 11508 Road H 11 in Ottawa, and its hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today.

All appliances will be picked up at the curb at a later date, so residents are urged not to drop them off.



Agencies still mobilized

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Putnam County EMS and Emergency Management Agency, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, the Ottawa Police Department, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Shawnee Fire Department are still mobilized in Putnam County.



Water safety

The Putnam County Health Department continues to offer free or reduced-price water sampling for homeowners whose well water may have been affected by the flood. Information regarding mold cleanup is available at the agency's Web site, www.putnamhealth.com, or by calling 419-523-5608.



Household hazardous

drop-off point

The household hazardous waste drop-off point is open and functioning in Ottawa. Its location is the old Phillips plant parking lot — the entrance is off of Pratt Street. The hours are today between noon and 6 p.m. It will be closed Sunday and Monday.

Affected residents may drop off materials to the personnel at the drop-off center. Tires will be accepted, but personnel will ask for a $1 donation per tire.

Crews will also pick up materials curbside during the same hours.

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County offices functioning with limited capabilities

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County offices weren't what they were before the flood this week — some operated without telephones or computers — but they were operating, said Hancock County Commissioner Ed Ingold.

The Hancock County Health Department settled itself in its former offices on the second floor of 222 Broadway, above the Hancock County Prosecutor's office. They had been situated in the building at 209 W. Main Cross St., across the hall from the Hancock County Board of Elections, but that building was among the most severely flooded in Hancock County.

They will likely be moving into a temporary modular building in the parking lot of their building until renovations — which could take up to two months — are complete.

This week, they provided all the usual services to the community from their temporary office, with limited phone service and no Internet. A hand-written, paper sign announced the entrance to the health department offices, and the single telephone line had to be shared by employees.

"We're functioning," John Shoop, the county health board's environmental director, said Thursday. "Even without the phone or Internet."

Life might have rolled back 20 years for county employees this week, many of whom had to make do in an online world without Internet service, or created hodgepodge semblances of their former offices in modular buildings or borrowed rooms. Some offices had to wait for telephone service, others slowly moved what furniture, copy machines and computers the flood didn't damage into new office space.

Modular buildings fill Dorney Plaza, and employees work inside their thin walls, jumbled together.

Ingold said that the first phase of the post-flood recovery effort — cleaning — is nearly complete.

"They're almost done cleaning all the buildings except 320 (S. Main St.)," Ingold said.

Asbestos was discovered in that building, which housed Hancock Regional Planning until those offices recently moved back into the Findlay City Municipal Building. Ingold said a separate contractor will have to be hired to remove the asbestos, a task he hopes to accomplish for less than $10,000. Because the asbestos is likely a less-toxic variety, Ingold said it should be cheaper to remove and can be taken to the Hancock County Landfill.

Commissioners are already in their modular building in Dorney Plaza, and the Hancock County Public Defenders offices should be settled into their own modular unit by next week.

All of the modular units have arrived, he said, so it's now a matter of getting the buildings wired and ready for occupants. The county's IT offices have been working to help get all the offices technologically up-to-date again.

Ingold said the county has not yet heard whether public offices have been declared a federal disaster, making them eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but that often happens last in a disaster situation, he's heard.

Meanwhile, county offices are preparing to apply for whatever aid they can get, he said, by documenting all losses and expenses. Because officials don't know what the process is for receiving FEMA aid, Ingold said they are investigating other counties that have received FEMA aid.

"Business should be fairly back to normal Monday," he said. "If you can call it back to normal."



Garbage pickup

Hancock County is smelling better, and looking better. Ingold said much of the flood debris has been picked up, but there is still more to go.

Also, flood debris is still arriving at the county landfill from Putnam County.

Next week, he said, the landfill will be open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be closed Sunday and Monday. Residents are encouraged to leave debris by the curb and let garbage haulers pick it up to keep traffic down at the landfill.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Back In Business

The following Findlay area businesses, closed by last week's flooding, have announced their reopening:

City Dry Cleaning, 116 E. Main Cross St.

New Adventure Computer & Electronics, 223 Broadway.

Rustic Razor, 227 W. Crawford St.

Southside Family Restaurant, 3050 S. Main St.

Streicher's Quickprint, 109 S. Main St.

Flores Cafe, 220 S. Main St.

Reopenings that were previously announced:

Cavins Kitchen Village, 215 S. Main St.

Disabled American Veterans, Buddy Chapter 43, 201 E. Front St.

Hair After, 414 E. Sandusky St.

Hair Studio Salon and Spa, 622 E. Sandusky St.

House of Awards and Sports, 419 N. Main St.

Jim's Trophies and Screen Printing, 701 Howard St.

Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, 427 Tiffin Ave., taking orders through the drive-through and by carryout only.

Masterson's ACE Hardware, 10205 U.S. 224 West.

Ottawa branch office of ERA Noakes-Rooney & Associates, temporarily at 819 N. Locust, Suite 1, Ottawa.

Oxley, Malone, Hollister, O'Malley & Warren law firm temporarily located at 6566 County Road 236.

Suntime Professional Auto Detailing is now operating at 1043 Bright Road, in the rear building of Gene Stevens Honda.

The Alteration Shop & In-Stitches Monogramming, 303 E. Sandusky St.

The Courier is asking businesses that have reopened after the flood to please e-mail the Courier's business reporter, Lou Wilin, at louwilin@thecourier.com; or e-mail news@thecourier.com; or drop off a note for Wilin at the Courier's newsroom. Tell us the name of your business, and your address.

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Flood Briefs

Insurance chief warns of flood scams

Ohio Department of Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson is warning victims of the recent floods in northern and central Ohio to be aware of individuals who may be selling bogus flood insurance policies.

The department has received reports of people trying to sell retroactive flood insurance policies, claiming that if a homeowner purchases a policy, the policy will cover any damages incurred during this latest flood.

There is no such thing as a retroactive flood insurance policy, and residents approached by someone trying to sell one should call the Ohio Department of Insurance consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526.

Flood victims can call the hotline number over the Labor Day weekend from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., or visit the department's Web site, www.ohioinsurance.gov.

Department representatives will also staff Disaster Recovery Centers in Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Putnam, Richland and Wyandot counties.



UF collecting school supplies

The University of Findlay Law Society is collecting school supplies and small donations for students of the Ottawa school district who were affected by the recent flooding.

The society will have a booth at the Alumni Memorial Union between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information, call Juan Ortiz, president of the law society, at 440-749-9243.



Flood assistance seminar planned for businesses

A "Flood Disaster Assistance Seminar," an open forum for businesses in Hancock County, will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Findlay Inn & Conference Center.

Sponsored by GreaterFindlayInc., the forum will help business leaders learn more about assistance for business recovery.

A presentation and question-answer session will be offered by a panel including representatives of Findlay and Hancock County governments, GreaterFindlay, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration, Better Business Bureau, Hancock Regional Planning Commission, Small Business Development Center, the Wood County Building Inspector and West Central Development Corp.



Donations to Red Cross can remain local if desired

The North Central Ohio Floods Relief Operation Headquarters for the Red Cross reports that there has been confusion among people wanting to donate to local flood relief efforts who are worried that their gift, intended to help people in this area, will be used elsewhere.

To designate the gift to the North Central Ohio Floods, indicate N.C. Ohio Floods (DR 681-08) in the memo section of the check. The Red Cross honors donor intent.

Anyone wishing to make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund can send donations to the American Red Cross — Hancock County Chapter, 125 Fair St., Findlay, 45840; call 1-800-HELP-NOW or visit www.redcross.org.



Driver's seminar changes location

A driver's training seminar, sponsored by the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the cafetorium at Liberty-Benton High School. The location was changed from Central Middle School auditorium because of flooding.



Mall offers boxes for flood victims

Findlay Village Mall is offering boxes to help flood victims, and the mall also will accept donations on behalf of relief efforts.

Donated boxes can be picked up in the space between Fiesta Hair & Tanning and Invision Eye Care while supplies last.

The mall also is accepting donations for the Hancock County United Way Flood Relief Fund, at Guest Services. All funds will be used for those affected by the flood.

The mall also will be a drop-off center for Findlay Flood Relief Aid Sept. 15-16. A table display with more information is located in front of Guest Services.



Great Scot plans flood aid campaign

Great Scot Community Markets will hold a "Stuff the Box" campaign to aid victims of the flooding in Northwest Ohio.

The stores will give cash back to the Red Cross totaling 2 percent of their sales receipts collected at the stores. Anyone can aid the fundraising effort by stuffing their green receipts in the drop boxes located at registers when shopping at Great Scot.



Tax extension announced

Some residents and businesses stricken by last week's severe flooding will be granted an extension to Oct. 15 to file and pay taxes.

The extended deadlines apply to residents and businesses in the six counties that were declared federal disaster areas: Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Putnam, Richland and Wyandot counties.

The deadline extension applies to any Ohio tax payment, report or return due between Aug. 20 and Sept. 30, 2007.

There is not a special form. They may simply write or type, in bold letters, "Disaster Relief" across the top of a payment check, return or report at the time it is filed. The Ohio Department of Taxation will credit tax accounts accordingly.

To qualify for the extension, an individual or a business must have resided in or operated in one of the six counties declared a disaster area on Aug. 20.

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Area 'pullers' gearing up for the fair

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

Herb Rettig doesn't "pull" as much as he once did, but he still plans on getting his tractor out of the barn this weekend and taking it to the Hancock County Fairgrounds.

Wayne Smith stopped "pulling" around 1999, after about 30 years. Now he lets his kids do it.

Rettig, along with Ben, Jacob and Amanda Smith, will be among those competing in the "Biggest Little Pull in Northwest Ohio," the annual tractor pull at the Hancock County Fair.

The show, a tradition at the fair since the 1950s, begins at noon Sunday at the south grandstands. The $3 admission will get you a seat in the stands or a spot in the "pits."

Last year, about 4,000 people show up for the tractor pull.

The Sunday pull, which is likely to last most of the day depending on the number of pullers who turn up, will actually be the second pull of the weekend.

Today beginning at 7 p.m. the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) Regional Nationals will be held at the fairgrounds.

Sponsored by LaRiche Chevrolet Cadillac, the NTPA event is considered the main program at this year's fair and is being held in the time slot normally filled by a music show. Admission to the grandstands will be $10 for those 16 and older; $5 for those 6-15; and free for those under age 5.

"We wanted to try something a little bit different," said Scott Lewis, a member of the fair's motorsports committee. "We believe it will be good entertainment for the entire family."

Today's NTPA show, featuring super farm tractors, four-wheel-drive trucks, light super stock tractors, modified minis, and super semi trucks, is expected to run about three hours and will pay out more than $14,000 in prize money.

Today's pullers will come from around the Midwest. At least one area puller, Ron Newell of Leipsic, is expected to compete in the truck class.

While today's NTPA pull will generate more smoke and noise, the Sunday show will feature just as much competition. Organizers said many of the competitors Sunday will pull in vehicles they drive to work on Monday mornings.

Smith, of rural Arlington, said he began pulling in the mid-1970s and used to travel around the country to different events. He used to pull with a 1975 International pickup truck, a vehicle he says could still pull if he wanted it to.

"I gave up driving eight years ago when the kids became old enough (16) to drive," he said. "Now I just stand on the sidelines and let them do it."

The Smith family is one of many families involved in pulling, according to Brian Wolford, another member of the fair board's motorsports committee.

"You see a lot of families involved in pulling," said Wolford, whose own daughter will compete in the mini rod class on Sunday. "Dads will pass it on to their sons and daughters, then they'll do the same thing."

Jeff Casey of North Baltimore said he started going to tractor pulls at the Wood County Fair 25 years ago with his brother Mike.

"One year we took one of dad's tractors to the Wood County Fair and entered it," he said. "Mike only kept at it for a couple of years, but I never really stopped."

Now he hits the area pull circuit with his three sons, Steve, Bill and Matt. They were at a pull in Wauseon on Friday night, and all four will compete Sunday in the farm stock class in Findlay.

Pullers are a unique breed, according to Tom Higbie, another motorsports committee member, who says tractor pulling incorporates both physics and geometry. Many pullers are farmers and most are mechanics.

The Caseys are both. They farm in Wood County and operate Casey Sales and Service, a North Baltimore business geared toward farm equipment.

While pullers used to compete for bragging rights, and pulled sleds loaded with bricks or people, they can now haul away cash.

The winner in each class is the vehicle which is able to pull a weighted sled the furthest down a 300-foot track. The entry fee to compete Sunday is $25 and premiums are as high as $100 for the farm stock and pickup classes, while the 4x4 pickup and diesel pickup classes will pay back $500 to the winners.

Pulling, of course, is not cheap these days. Some of the machines will burn 7 or 8 gallons of diesel or alcohol fuel in the 15 or 20 seconds it takes for a run, and an engine on some of the top vehicles can cost $40,000-$60,000.

It also involves a lot of work to get the fairgrounds track ready for competition. Higbie estimates a crew will dump between 7,000-8,000 gallons of water on the track to get it just right for the pull.

"Everyone seems to like the track here," Higbie said. "We have a lot of clay, which makes it a hard pack."

Rettig, of Jenera, may know the local track better than anyone. While he admitted Friday he has scaled back some, he still plans to compete Sunday.

Rettig, a retired farmer, got his start pulling in the 1950s and used to pull regularly in summer events throughout the Midwest, including the World Pull in Illinois. These days, he sticks closer to home.

"I did it just for fun, I've always enjoyed it," Rettig said. "But I'm older now, you gotta slow down, when you get older."

Family members and friends of Rettig also used to pull, but have given up the hobby in recent years. He said the costs and time of keeping a tractor in pulling shape has become too much for many.

"It's gotten expensive," he said. "Just getting the tractor ready and hauling it around, it gets more expensive every year."

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at:

(419) 427-8423

stevedillon@thecourier.com

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Award-winning pair

By LOU WILIN

STAFF WRITER

Nathan Strasbaugh made it look easy this week as he reined his pony and horses to titles at the Hancock County Fair.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Liberty-Benton senior won the grand champion trophy for cart and driving presentation with his draft pony, Kate. He also won a variety of other awards.

Nathan also competes at the state fair, where in 2004 he took first place in a cart obstacle course with Kate. At this year's state fair he won third place.

Nathan guides the pony from the cart in a walk, then a trot, then turning among obstacles, then backing into a small space.

What judges find so winsome is how Nathan and Kate work together as one. He makes it all look effortless.

In a sense it is, now.

"Kate is the same age as me," Nathan said. "We grew up together."

Kate was a gift from Nathan's grandparents, Joe and Ann Bell of the Mount Blanchard area. Joe Bell, vice president of the Hancock County Agricultural Society, has had a lifelong love of draft ponies.

When Nathan was about 17 months old, he and "Pampa" — as the boy pronounced it back then — began going for rides in a buggy pulled by a hitch of six ponies.

Kate, Nathan's pony, is the offspring of the leader of that hitch.

Nathan has been training Kate since he was 6 years old.

"Nathan's taken her from a rough stone to a gem," Joe Bell said.

Nathan has learned along the way, too.

"Patience is the key," he said.

Practice can make perfect, but it must be done at the pony's pace.

"To you it's easy, but to them it's so much more," Nathan said.

Trust also is important and it must go both ways between the animal and driver, he added.

It takes time to develop.

Like the time it takes to grow from boyhood into early manhood.

Contact staff writer Lou Wilin at:

(419) 427-8413

louwilin@thecourier.com

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Ag society to vote on fair board seats Monday

Members of the Hancock County Agricultural Society on Monday will decide two races for seats on the county fair board.

Voting will be done from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday in the Grange building at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. Only people who hold Agricultural Society membership tickets can vote.

Three candidates are running Monday for one seat on the fair board, representing Findlay. Candidates are Diane Bauman, Edward Greeno Jr. and incumbent Raymond Rettig.

In another race Monday, three candidates are running for two at-large seats on the board.

Candidates are Richard Amstutz, Brenda Fenstermaker and Becky Wolford. Amstutz is currently an at-large representative on the fair board. The second at-large seat is currently vacant.

Five other fair board candidates have no competition on Monday.

They are Darrell Baird, representing Amanda Township; Brad Griffin, representing Delaware Township; Scott Frysinger, representing Eagle Township; Chris McDougall, representing Union Township; and Dean Mengert, representing Washington Township.

Frysinger will replace Eagle Township representative Dennis von Stein, who didn't seek another term. The other four candidates are currently on the board.

Fair board members serve three-year terms. The fair board has 25 members; one-third of them are normally up for election each year.

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Balmy weather boosts fair attendance

Helped by balmy weather, the Hancock County Fair enjoyed "above average" attendance on its third day Friday.

Ticket chairman Tom Warren noted that Friday attendance is traditionally slower at the fair because of people attending high school football games, especially Findlay home games.

Findlay did play at home Friday, but fair attendance was decent, so maybe "we broke tradition," Warren said.

He's looking for an attendance surge over the holiday weekend. Tractor pulls today and Sunday should "really pull them in," Warren said. "I think we ought to have a good weekend."

On Monday, the fair's final day, the Northwest Cheerleading Invitational will be "a big draw," Warren said, along with the demolition derby.

As the fair reached its halfway point Friday, many more winners were named in junior fair and open class competition:



Junior fair

Poster contest

Rabbit — Michelle Reigle, first; Kara Reigle, second.

Goat — Katie Borgelt, first; Emily Ward, second.

Swine — Mariah Weihrauch, first; Jason Brown, second.

Dairy feeder — Jackie Leppelmeier, first; Nicole Kelbley, second.

Beef — Troy Hartman, first; Justin Gillespie, second.

Dairy — David Feller, first; Mike Kryling, second.

Sheep — Hannah Elsea, first; Rebecca Kirian, second.

Poultry — Tessa Simpson, first; Dan Drake, second.

Dairy

Senior showmanship — Katie Cole, Eagle Creek, first; Ethan Oberst, Barnstormers, second.

Junior showmanship — Jena Kryling, Kountry Kids, first; Tristen Spahr, Riverbend, second.

Super showman — Katie Cole, first; Jena Kryling, second.

Brown Swiss winners:

Intermediate heifer calf — Justin Bower, Country Bumpkins, first.

Junior champion — Justin Bower.

Jersey winners:

Junior heifer calf — Tristen Spahr.

Intermediate heifer calf — Tristen Spahr.

Senior heifer calf — Taylor Allen, Indian Green, first; Tristen Spahr, second.

Junior yearling calf — Ethan Oberst, first; Chase Brown, Barnstormers, second.

Intermediate yearling calf — David Feller, Country Bumpkins, first; Cam Brown, Barnstormers, second.

Junior champion — Ethan Oberst, first; Taylor Allen, second.

Grand champion — Ethan Oberst, first; Taylor Allen, second.

Guernsey winners:

Intermediate heifer calf — Seth Holliger, Country Bumpkins.

Junior champion — Seth Holliger.

Grand champion — Seth Holliger.

Holstein winners:

Junior heifer calf — Katie Cole, Eagle Creek, first; Alison Beverly, Kountry Kids, second.

Intermediate heifer calf — Katie Cole.

Senior heifer calf — Katie Cole, first; Jena Kryling, Kountry Kids, second.

Intermediate yearling heifer — Mike Kryling, Kountry Kids.

Senior yearling heifer — Katie Cole.

4-year-old cow and over — Katie Cole, first; Mike Kryling, second.

Junior champion — Katie Cole, first and second.

Senior champion — Katie Cole, first; Mike Kryling, second.

Grand champion — Katie Cole, first; Mike Kryling, second.

Champion over all breeds — Katie Cole.

Goats

Overall market kid — Megan Johnson, SoHanCo, champion; Charley Shepler, All Around Champions, reserve champion.

Senior showmanship — Travis Siferd, Gold Star, first; Ryan Stamper, Country Critters, second.

Intermediate showmanship — Ashley Siferd, Gold Star, first; Alex Johnson, SoHanCo, second.

Junior showmanship — Mariah Burkholder, Gold Star, first; Emily Musson, Biglick Buckeyes, second.

Super showmanship — Travis Siferd.

Lightweight market dairy — Chase Marshall, Millstream Farmers, first; Emily Ward, Millstream Farmers, second.

Medium weight market dairy — Tracy Shrader, Northwest Stars, first; Carl Scoles, Gold Star, second.

Heavyweight market dairy — Ashton Beach, Country Bumpkins, first; Travis Siferd, second.

Champion market dairy — Ashton Beach, first; Tracy Shrader, second.

Meat boer — Megan Johnson, SoHanCo, champion; Charley Snepler, All Around Champions, reserve champion.

Pygmy under 1 year — Lucas Huntly, Lakeland Leaders, first; Jason Welty, Hancock Hareraisers, second.

Pygmy 1 year and under 3 — Dezaray Meddows, Pride of Pleasant, first; Dana Huntly, Lakeland Leaders, second.

Pygmy over 3 years — Dana Huntly, first; Tracy Rinker, Lakeland Leaders, second.

Overall pygmy champion — Dana Huntly; reserve champion — Tracy Rinker.

Harness, first year — Emily Mussen, Biglick Buckeyes.

Harness, second year — Ashton Beach, Country Bumpkins.

Variety under 1 year — Emily Mussen, first; Meeghan Kelly, Biglick Buckeyes, second.

Variety 1-3 years — Meeghan Kelly.

Variety over 3 years — Meeghan Kelly.

Champion variety — Meeghan Kelly, first and second.

Junior dairy doe kid — Ashley Siferd, Gold Star.

Intermediate doe kid — Travis Siferd, first; Ashley Siferd, second.

Senior doe kid — Ashley Siferd, first; Travis Siferd, second.

Dry yearling — Ashley Siferd, first; Travis Siferd, second.

Junior dairy champion — Ashley Siferd; reserve champion — Travis Siferd.

Senior dairy doe winners:

Yearling in milk — Ashley Siferd, first; Travis Siferd, second.

Doe in milk, 2 years and under 3 — Travis Siferd, first; Ashley Siferd, second.

Doe in milk, 3 years and under 5 — Travis Siferd.

Doe in milk, 5 years and over — Travis Siferd, first; Ashley Siferd, second.

Senior doe champion — Travis Siferd; reserve champion — Ashley Siferd.

Dairy doe champion — Travis Siferd; reserve champion — Ashley Siferd.

Dairy specialty winners:

Dam and daughter — Ashley Siferd, first; Travis Siferd, second.

Produce of dam — Travis Siferd, first; Ashley Siferd, second.

Breeders trio — Travis Siferd.

Junior meat doe winners:

0-3 months — Megan Johnson, SoHanCo.

3-6 months — Megan Johnson, first; Ian Roberts, Lakeland Leaders, second.

6-9 months — Ashley Siferd, first; Travis Siferd, second.

9-12 months — Megan Johnson.

Junior meat doe champion — Ashley Siferd; reserve champion — Megan Johnson.

Senior meat doe winners:

12-18 months — Jackie Reffitt, Gold Star, first; Mariah Burkholder, Gold Star, second.

18-24 months — Morgan Roberts, Lakeland Leaders, first; Josie Smith, K-9 Best Friends, second.

24-36 months — Jackie Reffitt, first; Morgan Roberts, second.

36 months and older — Morgan Roberts.

Senior meat doe champion — Ian Roberts; reserve champion — Jackie Reffitt.

Overall grand champion — Ian Roberts; overall reserve champion — Jackie Reffitt.

Meat specialty classes:

Dam and daughter — Morgan Roberts, first; Jackie Reffitt, second.

Produce of dam — Ashley Roberts, Lakeland Leaders, first; Ian Roberts, second.

Breeders trio — Hannah Johnson, SoHanCo.

Draft horse

Team driving — Nathan Strasbaugh, Gentle Giants, first; Michelle Brown, Gentle Giants, second.

Single horse line driving — Nathan Strasbaugh.

Riding — Melissa Ream, Gentle Giants, first; Michelle Brown, second.

Decorating class — Chase Marshall, Gentle Giants, first; Melissa Ream, second.

Junior showmanship — Melissa Ream.

Senior showmanship — Nathan Strasbaugh, first; Michelle Brown, second.

Cart class — Michelle Brown.

Dairy feeders

Champion dairy feeder — Brittni Barker, Kountry Kids; reserve champion — Lynae Anspach, Pride of Pleasant.

Senior showmanship — Lynae Anspach, Pride of Pleasant, first; Rachel Barker, Kountry Kids, second.

Junior showmanship — Michaela Breece, His Kids, first; Adam Newcomer, Kountry Kids, second.

Beginning showmanship — Charles Shoop, Kountry Kids, first; Olivia Sattler, Rocky Ford Guys & Gals, second.

Super showmanship — Lynae Anspach.



Open class

Horticulture

Apples winners:

Granny Smith — Gene Geckle, Alvada.

Red Delicious — Gene Geckle, first; Bill Detamore, McComb, second.

Any other variety — Gene Geckle.

Jonathon — Gene Geckle.

Rome Beauty — Gene Geckle.

Golden Delicious — Gene Geckle, first; Cheryl Conkle, McComb, second.

Stayman Winesap — Gene Geckle.

Macintosh — Gene Geckle, first; Bill Detamore, second.

Cortland — Gene Geckle.

Best display — Gene Geckle.

Peaches winners:

Hale — Bill Detamore, McComb.

Elberta — Bob Schwab, McComb, first; Bill Detamore, second.

Red Haven — Bob Schwab, first; Bill Detamore, second.

Any other variety — James Stahl, Findlay.

Best display — Bob Schwab.

Plums:

Stanley prune — Gene Geckle, Alvada.

Best display — Gene Geckle.

Pears:

Bartlett — Gene Geckle.

Any other variety — Cheryl Conkle, McComb, first; Bill Detamore, McComb, second.

Best display — Gene Geckle.

Grapes:

Concord — Ilene Hoy, Alvada, first; Bill Detamore, McComb, second.

Best display — Ilene Hoy.

Special display of farm produce:

Bill Detamore, McComb, first; Cheryl Conkle, McComb, second. Best display: Bill Detamore.

Farm products

Corn winners:

DeKalb medium — Brenda Fenstermaker, McComb, first; Dennis Dorman, Findlay, second.

Agra-Gold medium — Bob Riegle, Arlington, first; John Rinker, Van Buren, second.

Agra-Gold late — Bob Riegle.

Pioneer early, medium, and late — Norman Lewis, Arcadia.

List variety early — Caleb Breece, Alvada.

List variety medium — Jerry Augustine, Rawson, first; Richard Herr, Arlington, second.

List variety late — Caleb Breece.

Best single ear, any variety — Michael Leader, Deshler, first; Jerry Augustine, second.

Wheat winners:

One gallon Pioneer — Norman Lewis, Arcadia.

One gallon AOV — Norman Lewis, first; Dick Amstutz, Rawson, second.

Best display — Norman Lewis.

Oats winners:

One gallon Ogle — Brenden Fry, Findlay.

Soybean winners:

One gallon early — Brandon Amstutz, Rawson, first; Dick Amstutz, Rawson, second.

One gallon medium — Dick Amstutz, first; Norman Lewis, Arcadia, second.

One gallon late — Dick Amstutz, first; Brandon Amstutz, second.

Best display — Brandon Amstutz.

Other grains:

Half gallon red clover — Brandon Zuercher, Jenera, first; Nathan Zuercher, Jenera, second. Best display: Brandon Zuercher.

Shelled corn:

One gallon shelled corn — Norman Lewis, Arcadia, first; Marvin Ritter, Findlay, second.

Hay winners:

Alfalfa, first cutting — Michael Leader, Deshler, first and second.

Alfalfa, second or third cut — Michael Leader, first and second.

Mixed alfalfa and grass — Michael Leader, first and second.

Mixed clover and grass — Margaret Rickle, Findlay.

Best display — Michael Leader.

Sweet corn winners:

Bi-color — Charles Hanna, Benton Ridge.

Yellow sweet — Jim Myers, Arlington, first; Tim Myers, Findlay, second. Best display: Jim Myers.

Popcorn winners:

Strawberry — Bob Schwab, McComb.

Miniature decorative — Charles Hanna, Benton Ridge, first; Sharon Calvelage, Bluffton, second.

AOV — Sharon Calvelage, first; Bob Schwab, second.

Best display — Bob Schwab.

Root crops winners:

Russet potatoes — Ron Stacy, Findlay.

Kennebec potatoes — Dennis von Stein, Rawson, first; Jim Myers, Arlington, second.

Red potatoes — Charles Hanna, Benton Ridge, first; Ralph Barringer, Van Buren, second.

Katahdin potatoes — Charles Hanna, first; Richard Herr, Arlington, second.

Sweet potatoes — Ralph Barringer, Van Buren, first; Barb Stamper, Arlington, second.

Stalks rhubarb — Ron Stacy, Findlay, first; Emily Spaeth, Jenera, second.

Garden beets — Jill Smith, McComb, first; Jeremy Strapp, Findlay, second.

Turnips — Cheryl Conkle, McComb.

Parsnips — Cheryl Conkle.

Carrots — Tracey Dindal, Findlay, first; Harvey Tesnow, Arcadia, second.

Short carrots — Cheryl Conkle.

Radishes, red — Jim Myers, Arlington, first; Sarah Freshwater, Forest, second.

Radishes, white — Sarah Freshwater, first; Cheryl Conkle, second.

Onions, white — Bob Schwab, McComb, first; Harvey Tesnow, Arcadia, second.

Onions, Bermuda — Harvey Tesnow.

Onions, sweet — Bob Schwab, first; Ralph Barringer, Van Buren, second.

Onions, red — Harvey Tesnow, first; Bob Schwab, second.

Cooking onions — Bill Detamore, McComb, first; Bob Schwab, second.

Best display — Tracey Dindal.

Vegetable winners:

Tomatoes, canning type 3 inches — Charles Hanna, Benton Ridge, first; Cheryl Conkle, McComb, second.

Tomatoes, larger than 3 inches — Charles Hanna, first; Jim Myers, Arlington, second.

Tomatoes, beefsteak type — Tracey Dindal, Findlay, first; Sarah Freshwater, Forest, second.

Yellow tomatoes — Bob Schwab, McComb, first; Chris Houck, Rawson, second.

Italian or paste tomatoes — Harvey Tesnow, Arcadia, first; Lois Hile, Findlay, second.

Cherry tomatoes, red — Chris Houck, first; Jim Myers, second.

Cherry tomatoes, yellow — Mona Wittlinger, Findlay, first; Marcia Schwab, McComb, second.

Plum tomatoes — Harvey Tesnow, first; Jeremy Strapp, Findlay, second.

Bell peppers, green, red and yellow — Harvey Tesnow, first; Charles Hanna, second.

Bell peppers, any other color — Bob Schwab, first; Harvey Tesnow, second.

Sweet banana peppers — Bob Schwab, first; Chris Houck, second.

Hot banana peppers — Bob Schwab, first; Ron Boyer, Findlay, second.

Hot peppers, jalapena — Michael Struble, Findlay, first; Chris Houck, Rawson, second.

Hot peppers, any other variety — Caleb von Stein, Rawson, first; Monica von Stein, Rawson, second.

Pimentos, red — Monica von Stein, Rawson, first; Bob Schwab, second.

Kohlrabi — Jim Myers, Arlington, first; Bob Schwab, second.

Green cabbage — Bill Detamore, McComb.

Flat Dutch cabbage — Cheryl Conkle, McComb.

Red cabbage — Dennis von Stein, Rawson.

Broccoli — Jean Nonnamaker, Bluffton.

Cucumbers for slicing — Dennis von Stein, first; Tim Myers, Findlay, second.

Cucumbers for pickling — Ron Stacy, Findlay.

Beans, green — Ron Stacy, first; Jim Myers, second.

Beans, any other variety — Sharon Calvelage, Bluffton.

Large lima beans — Ron Stacy, Findlay, first; Cheryl Conkle, McComb, second.

Watermelon, any variety — Jeremy Strapp, Findlay, first; Kylee Simpson, Bluffton, second.

Muskmelon — Levi Bishop, Findlay, first; Heather Bishop, Findlay, second.

Cow pumpkin — Heather Bishop, first; Levi Bishop, second.

Mini sugar pie pumpkin — Jeremy Strapp, first; Cheryl Conkle, second.

Pie pumpkins — Jill Smith, McComb, first; Cheryl Conkle, second.

Striped cushaw — Gary Knox, Fostoria.

Zucchini squash — Ron Stacy, Findlay, first; Jim Myers, Arlington, second.

Butternut squash — Susan Barringer, Van Buren, first; Chris Houck, Rawson, second.

Spaghetti squash — Sarah Freshwater, Forest, first; Bob Schwab, McComb, second.

Yellow straight neck squash — Tim Myers, Findlay, first; Bill Detamore, McComb, second.

Hubbard squash — Sarah Freshwater, first; Cheryl Conkle, second.

Acorn squash — Trejen Miller, Rawson, first; Bill Detamore, second.

Turk turban squash — Cheryl Conkle.

Patty pan squash — David Cramer, Rawson, first; Bill Detamore, second.

Crookneck squash — Brandon Zuercher, Jenera, first; Ron Stacy, Findlay, second.

Squash, AOV — Ralph Barringer, Van Buren, first; Ron Stacy, second.

Mixed ornamental gourds — Cheryl Conkle, first; Bob Schwab, second.

Lagenarian gourds — Cheryl Conkle.

Display of ornamental gourds — Cheryl Conkle, first; Sarah Freshwater, second.

Egg plants — Bill Detamore, first; Sierra Russler, Mount Cory, second.

Mini pumpkins — Cheryl Conkle, first; Bill Detamore, second.

Largest farm products winners:

Beets, table, 3-inch tops — Jane Kirian, Alvada, first; Ron Stacy, Findlay, second.

Carrot, 3-inch tops — Tracey Dindal, Findlay.

Cucumber — Ron Stacy, first; Sierra Russler, Mount Cory, second.

Field corn, longest ear — Richard Herr, Arlington.

Muskmelon — Charles Hanna, Benton Ridge.

Onion — Harvey Tesnow, Arcadia, first; Ron Stacy, second.

Potato — Austin Waxler, Arlington, first; Jim Myers, Arlington, second.

Largest tomato — Ernie Hile, Findlay, first; Norman Lewis, Arcadia, second.

Largest pumpkin — Heather Bishop, Findlay, first; Levi Bishop, Findlay, second.

Largest zucchini squash — Michael Struble, Findlay, first; Austin Waxler, second.

Largest squash — Courtney Ritter, Findlay, first; Ralph Barringer, Van Buren, second.

Largest vegetable — Bob Schwab, McComb, first; Gary Knox, Fostoria, second.

Largest sunflower — Alan Shoop, McComb, first; Roger Powell, Findlay, second.

Watermelon — Norman Lewis, Arcadia, first; Charles Hanna, Benton Ridge, second.

Longest ear Indian/rainbow corn — Sharon Calvelage, Bluffton.

Display over all books 8-11 — Cheryl Conkle, McComb.

Best display — Harvey Tesnow, Arcadia.

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Parson homecoming planned for Sunday

FOSTORIA — A homecoming event will be held Sunday for local man Shane Parsons, who was severely injured in Iraq in 2006.

The event was expected to welcome Parsons and his mother, Cindy, back to Fostoria, but it has also become an extensive effort to remodel their residence — which suffered mold damage throughout the entire building. It's estimated to cost $175,000 for the repairs.

The damage was caused by a water leak at the 1754 N. Union St. location, and volunteers have begun the work to make the necessary repairs. What was expected to be a two-room makeover of the property has become an entire renovation of the structure.

The price tag has soared from the original estimate of $6,500, according to Frank "Sarge" Harris, a member of the Ohio Patriot Guard who is coordinating the event. Insurance may fund a portion of the repairs and donations are being sought for the remainder.

"I figure in six Sundays with the volunteers we have, they will have a new home," Harris said.

The Shane Parsons Building Fund has been established at KeyBank, according to bank representative Jane Frankart. Donations may be made at any KeyBank location, with a notation on checks that the funds are for the Parsons building fund.

The homecoming and renovation effort are being coordinated by Harris and the city administration.

Parsons and his mother will fly into Columbus where they will be greeted by a color guard provided by a local veterans group. They will be driven to Carey, and members of the Patriot Guard will then escort the family into Fostoria.

Originally formed in 2005 to shield mourning families from protestors' comments, the Ohio Patriot Guard group attends military personnel funerals and conducts military personnel homecomings.

As the group enters Fostoria, it will stop on the south side of town where local residents may join the procession of cars and motorcycles, according to Fostoria Mayor John Davoli.

Davoli encouraged people to temporarily postpone their plans for the holiday weekend and attend the homecoming effort.

"We want as big a crowd as possible," he said.

The procession route, which will be lined with yellow ribbons donated by local florist shops, will move along the Mid-Block area and into downtown about noon Sunday. The vehicles will stop at the traffic light in front of the city building, on the corner of South Main and West Tiffin streets, where a red carpet will be rolled out for Parsons.

Davoli will welcome the couple and Parsons will be presented with a key to the city. Time will be given for presentations by various veterans groups and possibly some other dignitaries, including several congressmen who have been invited to the event.

The Parsons also may make some comments during the ceremony, which is expected to last 10-15 minutes.

The couple's vehicles, which include Parsons' truck, haven't been used for a year, but were cleaned and readied by a local car dealership.

Anyone with additional ideas for the Parsons' homecoming event may call the mayor's office at (419) 435-8282.

For information about donations to assist the effort, contact Harris at sgtflh@yahoo.com.

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Government offices closed Monday; no trash pickup

Findlay and Hancock County government offices will be closed Monday in observance of the Labor Day holiday.

That means city crews will not be picking up flood trash during the holiday. Normal hours for city and county offices will resume Tuesday.

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No newspaper on Monday

The Courier won't be published on Monday, in observance of the Labor Day holiday.

All newspaper offices will be closed on Monday except the newsroom, which will begin working on Tuesday's newspaper at 5 p.m. Monday.

All other Courier offices will resume regular operations at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

During the holiday weekend, Courier subscribers who have a question or complaint about newspaper delivery may call the circulation department at 419-422-5158 and leave a voice mail message.



Online news

While there won't be another Courier newspaper until Tuesday, news and sports updates can be found over the holiday weekend at the Courier's Web site, www.thecourier.com.

Online sports coverage Saturday night will include the University of Findlay football game, and the 41-team Columbus Grove Invitational cross country meet.

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Richey to be retried

COLUMBUS (AP) — A county prosecutor has agreed to retry a U.S.-British citizen whose 1986 death sentence was tossed out by a federal appeals court earlier this month, Attorney General Marc Dann's office said Friday.

Rather than challenge the ruling, Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers made the decision to retry Kenneth Richey after discussing the case with Dann and the family of Cynthia Collins, a 2-year-old girl who was killed two decades ago in an apartment fire in Columbus Grove, the attorney general's office said.

A message seeking comment was left at Lammers' office in Ottawa.

Richey, now 43, was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to die for setting the fire.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 10 that Richey should be released or retried within 90 days because of ineffective counsel at his murder trial. The court said expert testimony could have contended that the fire wasn't intentionally set but caused by something else.

The attorney general's office already said Monday that the state would retry Richey instead of challenging the appeals court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Lammers said he wanted to meet with both state prosecutors and the girl's family first.

Lawyer Ken Parsigian, who now represents Richey but did not at his original trial, said the state's case will be tough to prove 21 years later. Witnesses have died, become incapacitated or cannot be found, he said.

"This is kind of an odd decision," Parsigian said. "Their case has gotten dramatically weaker and ours has gotten dramatically stronger."

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.

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Man arrested after using stun gun on ex-girlfriend 20 times

A Findlay man was arrested by city police early Friday after a bloody altercation with an ex-girlfriend at a local motel.

Police said Matthew Cook, 25, 436 Carnahan Ave., was taken into custody at about 5:15 a.m. Friday after he was released from Blanchard Valley Hospital, where he had been treated for stab wounds to his arm, leg and shoulder.

He is expected to be charged with violation of a protection order, abduction, burglary and tampering with evidence in connection with an incident that had started at about 11:20 p.m. Thursday at the Hampton Inn, 921 Interstate Drive.

According to police reports, Cook was stabbed after he apparently forced his way into a motel room where his estranged girlfriend, 22, was staying.

The woman, who had obtained a civil protection order against Cook in Hancock County Common Pleas Court on Aug. 7, told police she did not recognize him until he forced his way into in the room. A struggle ensued, in which Cook reportedly used a stun gun on the woman.

The woman responded by pulling out a knife and slashing Cook several times. The fight ended, but not before the woman had been struck about 20 times with the stun gun and Cook had sustained several lacerations. One, on his shoulder, apparently cut to the bone.

Police said Cook fled the area, but was located after he showed up at the hospital emergency room for treatment for his injuries.

The woman, who was treated at the hospital for a hand wound, is not expected to be charged.

Reports indicate that Cook and the woman had broken up recently, but that he had contacted her about a week ago, using a fictitious name and identity, through MySpace, and they had agreed to meet at the motel.

Cook was being held Friday night in the Hancock County Justice Center.

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Fostoria woman sentenced to 5 years for drug trafficking

TIFFIN — Luwana Engler, 42, formerly of Hayes Street, Fostoria, was sentenced to about five years in prison after she was found guilty of trafficking in crack cocaine during a recent appearance before Judge Steve Shuff in Seneca County Common Pleas Court, Tiffin.

She was convicted of five drug-related felonies for her involvement in a drug ring that was busted by law enforcement personnel during a raid throughout Fostoria in June. She was sentenced to 4 years and 11 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to four counts of trafficking in crack cocaine, fourth- and fifth-degree felonies, and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony.

As part of the guilty pleas, Engler agreed to be a witness in pending drug cases involving other defendants from the drug roundup.

Engler is the second Fostorian to be sentenced from the two-year undercover investigation which resulted in 150 charges against 21 individuals.

Earlier in August, Alexa Johnson, 20, was convicted of 18 drug-related felonies and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Engler was returned to the Seneca County Jail, Tiffin, where she has been since being arrested. She will be transferred to the Marysville state prison for women where she will serve her sentence.

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Public Record

Docket

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

Police Department

Someone spray painted a building at 1101 Croy Drive on Wednesday.

A Findlay woman is expected to be charged with criminal damaging after cutting her dad's car tire at 752 Howard St. on Thursday.

A window was broken by vandals at 1104 Park St. Aug. 24.

A 4-year-old girl who had wandered away from a Parkside Place residence on Thursday was later found on Vincent Street.

A man reported he had been threatened in the 900 block of Putnam Street by a man with a rifle at about 11:45 a.m. Thursday. The man told police he pointed a power washing nozzle at the man because he felt he was looking to steal items from his residence.

Pop, cigarettes and a Velvet Ice Cream cooler were taken Wednesday from the Marathon gas station at 464 E. Sandusky St., where the items had been put outside to dry after the flood.

A man and woman were both arrested for domestic violence after an incident in the 100 block of West Lincoln Street Thursday evening.

A man is expected to be charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle after he took a vehicle from a family member on Friday.

The same man was arrested about 6:45 a.m. Friday after he stole a golf cart from K-T Rental on Western Avenue and crashed it into a fence in the 1000 block of Putnam Street.

Sheriff's Office

A truck drove through a yard at 4010 Township Road 254, Arcadia, leaving ruts on Aug. 16.

Six teens, ranging in age from 16 to 19, are expected to be charged with underage consumption after deputies raided a party at 17632 Township Road 178 on Aug. 15. The suspects were from the Arlington and Forest areas.

An Edgewood Drive woman reported Wednesday that someone had made numerous unauthorizied withdrawals from her checking account in July and August.

Courthouse

Marriage Licenses

Kenneth R. Carpenter, 326 Lima Ave., laborer, to Kaylynn M. Boss, 326 Lima Ave., laborer.

Paul L. VanSickle Jr., 41712 W. Sandusky St., laborer, to Desiree R. Clinger, 41712 W. Sandusky St., homemaker.

Luis M. Cortell, 400 S. West St., teacher, to Kerry L. Wherley, 400 S. West St., student.

Real Estate Transfers

Marjorie I. Henry to Justin S. and Sara M. Urbanczyk, Section 2, 3 acres, Orange Township.

Hancock County sheriff, Maria M. and Jared A. George to LaSalle Bank, Lot 143, Liberty Dold Farms 2nd Addition, Liberty Township.

Joshua D. and Jodi M. Cramer to Matthew R. and Carol H. Meyer, Lot 113, Forest Lake 2nd Addition, Marion Township.

Richard A. and Karen A. Meyer to Terry D. and Delilah A. Schwaner, Lot 33, Hillcrest Estates 11th Addition, Liberty Township.

Heidi and Chris B. Berry to Matthew A. and Kathryn M. Zalat, Lot 54, Forest Lake 1st Addition, Marion Township.

West Portage Development and Daniel W. Sandwisch to David C. Boyer, Lot 24, Covington Greens Subdivision Replat, Findlay.

Roger D. Ward to Dustin D. Mengert and Melissa S. Feck, Lot 138, Arcadia Original Plat, Arcadia.

Aegis Mortgage Corp. to Kimberly J. Wickman, Lot 34, Original Plat Addition, Mount Blanchard.

Fire Calls

Thursday

9:34 a.m., 1730 Lima Ave., EMS call.

11:02 a.m., 131 W. Melrose Ave., good intent call.

11:24 a.m., 3200 Bright Road, EMS call.

8:34 p.m., 2141 Bright Road, smoke scare.

11:11 p.m., 1900 Kirkwood Court, gas leak.

Friday

2:19 p.m., 655 Fox Run Road, EMS call.

3 p.m., 1757 Tiffin Ave., vehicle accident with injuries.

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Bike path meeting rescheduled for Sept. 8

A public open house about the new bike path project, which will connect the trail from downtown to Riverside Park, has been rescheduled for 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, in the Findlay High School cafeteria.

Area residents can learn about construction of the new Blanchard River Greenway Trails project. The first 100 visitors will receive free Dietsch's ice cream bars, provided by Hancock Friends of the Parks.

The meeting was re-scheduled from Aug. 22 due to the recent flood.

Displays, drawings and environmental reports will be available for public inspection and questions. There will also be displays and exhibits on bicycling as part of the annual Hancock Hundred Bicycle Tour, hosted by the Hancock Handlebars Bicycle Club, which will be held Sept. 9.

HPD Director Tim Brugeman will review information about the project, along with volunteers from the bicycle club. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is providing 80 percent matching funds of $650,000 for the 10 foot-wide paved multi-use path along the north bank of the Blanchard River. An underpass will be built at the CSX Railroad and Martin Luther King Jr. Way overpass. Lights and landscape materials will be placed along the riverbank, too.

The path was recently designated the "Findlay Rotary Greenway-Bikeway" by the HPD Board of Park Commissioners, in recognition of the club's donation of $50,000 as part of the 20 percent matching funds. Other local funds are being provided by HPD, Hancock Parks Foundation, the City of Findlay, the bicycle club, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation.

The trail extension is expected to be open by fall 2008. Development of this connector between Civitan Park and the Findlay Water Treatment Plant will link Main Street, four parks, and existing sections totaling two miles of paved paths. The bike path was first planned in the 1980s.

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