Wednesday, September 12th, 2007


Federal flood assistance OK'd for local governments
Hancock County was one of seven area counties declared eligible for "public assistance" Tuesday, which means local governments and some nonprofit organizations are now eligible for help with flood-related costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
more >>
Findlay's hoping for state help, too
Findlay officials on Tuesday hailed the decision to make federal assistance available to local governments affected by last month's flooding.
more >>
Flood damage? Beware of payday loans
Last month’s flood put a lot of area residents in dire financial straits, but experts are warning people not to turn to payday lending institutions as a possible solution.
more >>
Miller's heads for higher ground
Miller's Luncheonette owner Greg Miller is looking to relocate his downtown Findlay institution.
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Dehumidifier giveaway criticized
Some local flood victims got steamed Tuesday after showing up at the local United Way office for a dehumidifier giveaway only to learn the devices had been handed out earlier than scheduled.
more >>
SBA opens extra assistance center for Findlay area
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened an additional center in Findlay to help flood-damaged businesses apply for low-interest loans.
more >>
Land use plan a stepping stone
A new zoning code is on its way to Findlay.
more >>
Suspicious fires damage residence in Mount Cory
MOUNT CORY — Fires of suspicious origin heavily damaged a Mount Cory house on Monday night and again early Tuesday morning.
more >>
Nine indicted by grand jury; charges include rape, burglary, grand theft
A local man who was arrested by Findlay police after he allegedly forced his way into a local motel room, and attempted to abduct an ex-girlfriend, has been indicted by a Hancock County grand jury.
more >>
Seneca County facing lawsuit
TIFFIN — While the Seneca County Commissioners move forward with demolition plans for the county courthouse, an area newspaper has sued the three-member panel over withholding public records.
more >>
HPD facilities suffer over $33K in flood damages
Hancock Park District facilities sustained about $33,216 in damages resulting from last month's flood, according to a report presented by HPD Director Tim Brugeman to the park board Tuesday.
more >>
Mental health, sales tax issue on fall ballot
UPPER SANDUSKY — Wyandot County voters will face two countywide levies when they go to the polls in November.
more >>
Public Record
Docket
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Local News

Federal flood assistance OK'd for local governments

By MICHELLE REITER

STAFF WRITER

Hancock County was one of seven area counties declared eligible for "public assistance" Tuesday, which means local governments and some nonprofit organizations are now eligible for help with flood-related costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Those costs are likely to exceed $1 million for county government offices alone, and the City of Findlay's flood losses are estimated at more than $5 million.

Townships, villages and many nonprofit agencies also sustained significant damage in the August flood, and those public agencies have been waiting to file for financial assistance until the county became eligible.

Garry Valentine, director of the Hancock County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said a meeting for FEMA officials, nonprofit agency directors and public officials has been scheduled for Sept. 19 where FEMA representatives will help guide officials through the process of filing for assistance.

County Commissioner Emily Walton said Tuesday that public offices will probably be able to get assistance for up to 75 percent of their losses, with a 25 percent match from the agencies. That's a best-case scenario — not every expense will likely qualify for FEMA assistance.

A lot of what qualifies may depend on how well-documented each expense was, and Walton encouraged public officials to "document, document, document" all flood-related losses and expenses.

Hancock County has been paying for its flood-related expenses with money from last year's carryover balance. Even if FEMA reimburses the county for some of those expenses, there will still be a cost to the county, officials noted.

The county expects to get more accurate estimates for flood-related costs this week, said Commissioner Phil Riegle, adding that at least three county buildings will undergo assessments to help determine how much of each building was damaged.

Those buildings include the commissioners' offices on Main Street, the building that the Hancock Regional Planning Commission recently occupied on Main Street, and the "media building" on West Main Cross Street, which housed several county offices.

If the buildings are more than 50 percent destroyed, flood insurance rules require renovations to bring the buildings up to standard. The foundation of the structure may have to be raised, for example, which could mean extra costs.

"If we cross the 50 percent threshold, bringing the buildings up to standard could be difficult," Riegle said.

Contact Staff Writer Michelle Reiter at:

(419) 427-8497

michellereiter@thecourier.com

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Findlay's hoping for state help, too

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

Findlay officials on Tuesday hailed the decision to make federal assistance available to local governments affected by last month's flooding.

They're hoping for some state help, too.

Because of Tuesday's determination, the city is now eligible to recoup up to 75 percent of its flood-related costs from the federal government. The next step is to get the state government to cover the remaining 25 percent, Mayor Tony Iriti said.

"Seventy-five percent will go a long way, but we will continue to lobby our state legislators for the other 25 percent," Iriti said.

State Rep. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, said he has already begun lobbying fellow legislators on the matter and is penning a letter to the governor.

"In government, the squeaky wheel gets the grease," Hite said. "Right now, it's my job to be the squeaky wheel."

"I think we can get some, but I don't know how much," Hite said. "I'm not promising anything."

He figures it might take a couple of weeks to get an answer.

Otherwise, Findlay could be looking at paying 25 percent of the estimated $5.62 million cost to clean up the streets and repair city-owned facilities. That means the city would face a bill of a little over $1.4 million.

City council is sitting on a $4.9 million surplus. Council appointed an ad hoc committee in June to explore how to best use that money, but that work has been suspended until it's clear how much of the flooding bill the city is going to have to pay.

In the meantime, council's appropriations committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that the full council appropriate another $900,000 toward the cleanup effort.

Council had appropriated $500,000 for cleanup work on the Friday after the flood to get the effort started, but that was just start-up money.

The full council should vote on the $900,000 during next Tuesday's regularly scheduled meeting.

That money won't be enough to cover four other expenses council will have to appropriate money for in the near future. They are:

• Damage to city-owned vehicles and other rolling stock. An estimate of this damage hasn't been completed.

• Building content replacement for the health department, the police department's narcotics unit and the utility billing office.

• Renovations to the former Parker Lumber building in order to relocate the health department there. The old health department office took too much damage from floodwaters to salvage.

• Repairs to the Riverside Park pool.

Iriti is also requesting that council create a second zoning inspector position so the current inspector, Todd Richard, can devote more time to his duties as the city's flood plain administrator.

There should be plenty of work for the two of them. Iriti is expecting about 450 buildings in the city to be declared "substantially damaged," which means they will have to be raised out of the flood plain before they can be rebuilt or renovated. That, in turn, means those buildings will have to be inspected.

The request for a second inspector has actually been in the works since last winter's flooding, Iriti said.

"We started working on this back in February and March," he said.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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Flood damage? Beware of payday loans

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

Last month’s flood put a lot of area residents in dire financial straits, but experts are warning people not to turn to payday lending institutions as a possible solution.

“I hope they don’t do that,” said Paul B. Bellamy, a Columbus-based attorney with the Equal Justice Foundation.

That’s because loans from payday lending services can end up costing the borrower an amount that’s close to a 400 percent interest rate.

In Ohio, that translates into a borrower paying about $585 in fees and interest on a typical $300 loan.

That’s because the full loan has to be repaid all at one time, normally after about two weeks. The problem is, the borrowers usually don’t have the extra $300 come next payday.

That means they are often forced to take out another loan to pay off the original loan, and another loan after that, etc. It is not unusual for the cycle to repeat itself as many as 13 times in Ohio before the borrower breaks free, according to Bellamy.

The initial $45 in fees for the first $300 loan is manageable, but the fees keep doubling every time a new loan is taken out.

“The industry will tell you that is an unfortunate situation and they don’t like to see that happen either ... but what we call the 'debt trap’ is crucial for payday lenders to survive ... they have to have repeat lenders to make (a profit),” Bellamy said. “If you take away the repeat borrowers, (payday lenders) lose 75 percent of their revenue.”

John Rabenold, a spokesman for Check and Go, didn’t have any official numbers, but said he doubted there has been much of an increase in business because of the flooding. While a flood is certainly not normal, people get hit with unexpected bills all the time, he said.

“They have a car repair or medical bill,” Rabenold said.

He also said using an annual percentage rate (APR) is misleading. Rabenold said his company charges a flat fee which is not based on interest rates.

“It’s clearly stated,” Rabenold said. “People know what they’re getting into.”

Besides, state law requires a person to leave the store for one day before taking out a second loan, so the situation of multiple loans racking up high fees simply doesn’t happen very often, Rabenold asserted.

But Bellamy pointed out that people often go to more than one payday lending service once they get caught in the “debt trap.” They borrow money from one place to repay another place, or they simply use a friend or family member to take out another loan.

Bellamy has also heard the argument that it’s unfair to calculate the repayment amount by an annual interest rate because these people aren’t borrowing money for a year, but he dismissed that as a weak argument.

“Everybody prices interest rates on an annual model,” Bellamy said. “Once you stop doing that, who knows what you’re buying into?”

But Rabenold figures the service that payday lenders offer is “still cheaper than paying late fees or bouncing a check.”

Payday lenders provide an important service for people in a bind with nowhere else to turn, Rabenold said.

“Until they start providing an alternative product, it’s hard for me to accept they know better than our customers,” he said of critics.

Bellamy acknowledges that people often go to payday lenders because there are no better options. A few banks are beginning to explore short-term lending, but they are few and far between.

He recommends people ask their employers for a loan if they can, or even borrow money from a credit card.

“A lot of these people think credit cards are the enemy, but even the worst of them is only 36 percent (interest),” Bellamy said.

Sammie Rhoades, chief executive officer of Hope House -- a transitional shelter for homeless women and homeless women with children -- is strongly opposed to people going to payday lending services as well.

She recalled one client who was forced to use a payday lending service to cash a cash from her father to pay for a medical procedure.

“They took 20 percent of the check,” Rhoades said. “She felt she had no other options so she went ahead and cashed the check there. She did manage to have the procedure done, but had to use grocery money to pay the rest of the bill.”

The Center for Responsible Lending, a national organization that estimates payday lenders took in $4.2 billion across the country in 2005, puts Ohio in the top 10 states in which such borrowers are paying back the most money.

In 1996, the first year the industry was allowed, Ohio had 107 payday lending services. That number had grown to 1,554 by last year.

Likewise, Hancock County had no payday lending services in 1996 and nine by 2006.

“It’s a growth industry,” Rhoades said.

The Equal Justice Foundation is supporting State Rep. William Bachelder, R-Columbus, who is writing legislation that would limit the rate that payday lending services could charge to a maximum of 36 percent annually.

Bellamy admits that would probably hamstring payday lenders’ ability to provide loans, but he doesn’t care.

“That might spell the end of the industry,” he said.

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

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Miller's heads for higher ground

Miller's Luncheonette owner Greg Miller is looking to relocate his downtown Findlay institution.

He said he would like to move his restaurant to another downtown site, "but on higher ground."

Miller is eyeing a couple of areas that are less susceptible to flooding.

Many downtown properties get flooded occasionally, and many were hit hard in last month's flood, but Miller said his 203 N. Main St. location seems to always get soaked when the Blanchard rises, and his flooding is worse than other businesses.

"The last time, with four feet (of water in the restaurant), it was just too much (expense) to put back into the place," Miller said.

Miller said one thing is certain: He will not reopen at 203 N. Main St.

The restaurant has been on North Main since the 1940s.

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Dehumidifier giveaway criticized

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

Some local flood victims got steamed Tuesday after showing up at the local United Way office for a dehumidifier giveaway only to learn the devices had been handed out earlier than scheduled.

A note posted on the door of the United Way of Hancock County office at 245 Stanford Parkway said the supply of 100 dehumidifiers — which had been donated by Danby Products — already had been distributed by 1 p.m. Tuesday, the time the distribution had been set to begin on a "first come, first served" basis.

"It's not right that they did it that way," Anthony Baptiste, of Findlay, said. "I left work to come down here only to find out they started giving them out early. That's just wrong."

There were others who were unhappy too.

Celia Laureano, whose home on Clinton Court was heavily damaged by last month's flood, was at the United Way office at 12:55 p.m. to pick up a dehumidifier to help dry out her basement. She said she had heard about the giveaway in the Saturday Courier.

"The newspaper said 1 p.m.; so that's why I'm here," she said. "If they were going to give them out sooner, they should have said that."

United Way President Keith DuVernay was fielding inquiries and complaints Tuesday after people filed into the office and were told the dehumidifiers were gone. He said most people were understanding of the situation, but others were upset.

"We can understand how frustrated people are right now, especially considering what they've been through with the flood," he said. "I'm sorry that we ran out, but it was a matter of demand greatly exceeding supply."

DuVernay said people had already begun to line up for the dehumidifiers by 7 a.m. Tuesday, and a decision was made to begin the distribution early when it became clear that all the dehumidifiers would be claimed.

By about 11:30 a.m., he said, all 100 were spoken for.

That did not sit well with those who waited until closer to the previously announced start of the distribution to make the trip to the United Way office.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she showed up around noon and learned the distribution had already been completed. She too had relied on a notice in the Courier to plan her arrival time.

The woman said she would have gladly stood in line, if needed, in order to claim one of the dehumidifiers.

"I'm totally disappointed in how they conducted it," the woman whose Front Street home was heavily damaged by floodwaters. "If you say you're going to do something at 1 p.m., then you should stick to it. Had I been the 101st or 102nd person in line at 1 p.m., I would understand if they were out.

"This I don't understand."

DuVernay said the decision to start the distribution early wasn't meant to inconvenience anyone.

"The thought was, why keep anyone waiting until 1 p.m. once we knew there was going to be more people than dehumidifiers," he said. "But we're sorry for the inconvenience that it caused."

While the United Way has had discussions with other companies about dehumidifiers, DuVernay said the agency had not received a commitment for a donation of more of the devices.

He noted Tuesday that were still several hundred free cleaning kits available to flood victims at both the United Way office and at the Hurricane Express, 801 W. Hardin St.

"We had 4,000-4,500 of the cleaning kits," DuVernay said. "We only had 100 dehumidifiers."

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at:

(419) 427-8423

stevedillon@thecourier.com

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SBA opens extra assistance center for Findlay area

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened an additional center in Findlay to help flood-damaged businesses apply for low-interest loans.

The rear entrance to Commercial Savings Bank, 201 E. Lincoln St., is now the site of an SBA Business Assistance Center.

SBA representatives will help business owners learn how a loan can help them recover.

They also will help business owners apply for the loans.

Beginning today, the center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays, and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

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Land use plan a stepping stone

By JOHN GRABER

STAFF WRITER

A new zoning code is on its way to Findlay.

"We've already started on it," Hancock Regional Planning Commission Director Bill Homka said Tuesday night.

However, before it is drawn up, a new comprehensive land use plan has to be adopted, which Findlay City Council reviewed for the final time Tuesday night.

Legislation to adopt the land use plan should be on council's Oct. 2 agenda. With three mandatory readings, council is likely to vote on the land use plan during its Nov. 6 meeting.

The city paid the HRPC $80,000 to create the new land use plan, which will be used as a stepping stone for a complete rewrite of the city zoning code. The city also paid $80,000 for the new zoning code.

First Ward Councilman Mike Slough worried Tuesday that the proposed land use plan doesn't do enough to encourage redevelopment in the older sections of town, especially those areas hit by the recent flooding.

However, Homka said a land use plan is not where those concerns should be addressed.

The last time city council adopted a land use plan was 1965. The city currently works off a plan that was drawn up in 1982 but was never adopted by city council.

Some conclusions of the proposed plan are:

• New industry would be best located in areas north of town, extending from County Road 140 east to near the Township Road 243-Ohio 12 intersection in Cass Township. Those areas have better access to Interstate 75 and railways. The area is also higher in elevation, so water pressure would probably be less than desirable for homes.

• The southwest corner of town might also be better for industrial development because of current land uses there. In addition, much of the land is bedrock, making it expensive to install water and sewer lines.

• Residential developments could be located in the southeast corner of town because construction of roads and utilities would be cheaper in that area.

A draft of the proposed comprehensive land use plan is available online at www.hancockrpc.org.

Contact staff writer John Graber at:

(419) 427-8417

johngraber@thecourier.com

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Suspicious fires damage residence in Mount Cory

By ERIC SCHAADT

Staff Writer

MOUNT CORY — Fires of suspicious origin heavily damaged a Mount Cory house on Monday night and again early Tuesday morning.

The fires marked a string of unfortunate events for the seven-member family of Kimberly and Jason Cahill.

Mold in the house had made family members sick, forcing them to live in their garage, which then flooded last month. And then came the fires.

According to the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, the initial blaze was reported at 8:05 p.m. Monday at the two-story wooden frame house located at 102 N. Main St. in Mount Cory.

The fire, which started in the first floor of the home, was noticed by a neighbor.

A second fire was reported at 6:12 a.m. Tuesday by another neighbor. That fire apparently started on the second floor, fire officials said.

Mutual aid was provided by Rawson and Bluffton fire departments, which remained at the scene for three hours after each fire.

No injuries were reported, according to Mount Cory Fire Chief Grant Peterson. No dollar estimate for the loss had been determined Tuesday.

Peterson called the fires suspicious, adding that the State Fire Marshal's Office was summoned to the scene. Officials haven't released the cause of either fire.

"At this point, it's still under investigation," Peterson said Tuesday night.

Those with information about the fires are being asked to contact the sheriff's office at 419-422-2426, the fire chief said.

The house, which the Cahills bought in 2005, was not insured. It was the first house the family had purchased.

According to a Mount Cory neighbor, after the family moved into the house, mold inside the structure was blamed for making family members sick, causing colds and breathing problems.

The mold also contaminated clothes, heirlooms, pictures and other possessions which the family could not save.

During the summer the family renovated their garage and moved into it. The family used the bathroom and shower facilities in a camper trailer on loan from a former in-law.

Then floodwaters crept into the garage last month.

Since the flooding, the Cahills had been in the process of moving into a mobile home trailer with three bedrooms in Ada.

"The kids are not taking it well," the neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said. The five Cahill youngsters range in ages from 5 to 17.

Contact staff writer Eric Schaadt at:

(419) 427-8414

ericschaadt@thecourier.com

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Nine indicted by grand jury; charges include rape, burglary, grand theft

By J. STEVEN DILLON

STAFF WRITER

A local man who was arrested by Findlay police after he allegedly forced his way into a local motel room, and attempted to abduct an ex-girlfriend, has been indicted by a Hancock County grand jury.

Matthew G. Cook, 436 Carnahan Ave., was charged Tuesday with aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony; violating a protection order, a third-degree felony; and attempting to commit abduction, a fourth-degree felony.

Cook, 25, was arrested by police early Aug. 31 after he showed up at Blanchard Valley Hospital for treatment of several lacerations to his shoulder and leg. The cuts were later determined to have been inflicted during an Aug. 30 incident at the Hampton Inn, 921 Interstate Drive.

There, police say Cook had forced his way into a motel room where an ex-girlfriend was staying. A struggle ensued in which Cook allegedly used a stun gun to apparently try to subdue the woman, who pulled out a knife to defend herself.

Cook was slashed several times with the knife before he fled. The woman, who had obtained a protection order against Cook on Aug. 7, was treated at the hospital for a hand injury she suffered during the struggle.

Eight other people were indicted on unrelated charges Tuesday.

Michael A. Kitchen, 22, 600 Grand Ave., was charged with five counts of rape, each a first-degree felony.

According to his indictment, Kitchen engaged in sexual conduct with a 12-year-old girl on five occasions at a Findlay residence on June 30, 2006. The case was investigated by city police and Hancock County Children's Services.

Wayne W. Blackburn, 56, 107½ N. Main St., Jenera, was indicted for felonious assault, a second-degree felony. He is alleged to have caused physical harm to Paula Blackburn with a wooden bludgeon on Aug. 28 in Van Buren Township.

The nature of Paula Blackburn's injuries were not disclosed.

Bradley D. Wright, 36, 318 George St., and Joseph L. Ball, 26, 235 Midland Ave., were indicted on related third-degree felony burglary charges.

Both are accused of stealing household items during an Aug. 26 break-in at 100 Smith St. in Findlay. The home had been temporarily vacated at the time due to flooding that had occurred the prior week.

Heath A. May, 27, 636 E. Sandusky St., was charged with two counts of violating a protection order, both fifth-degree felonies, on June 21 and Sept. 6. A prior conviction in Findlay Municipal Court in October 2004 increased the severity of both the offenses.

Kinyatae T. Williams, 22, 2201 Jennifer Lane, Apt. 2, was indicted for failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony.

Williams is alleged to have caused a substantial risk of serious physical harm to persons or property while fleeing from a police officer last Saturday in Findlay. Police had pursued the defendant at speeds that topped 80 mph on North Blanchard Street and Tiffin Avenue. Williams reportedly jumped from a moving car before being apprehended.

Andrew S. Bowen, 20, address unknown, was charged with receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony. He is alleged to have retained a 1996 Ford that had been stolen from a local woman on Sept. 6 in Findlay.

Frederick A. Wiseman, 52, 441 California Ave., was indicted for grand theft, a fourth-degree felony. He is accused of stealing between $5,000 and $100,000 cash from Kotton Enterprises, Findlay, from Aug. 30, 2004 to Oct. 7, 2006.

The amount of the alleged theft increased the severity of the charge.

All of those indicted Tuesday are scheduled for arraignment in Hancock County Common Pleas Court on Sept. 19.

Contact staff writer J. Steven Dillon at:

(419) 427-8423

stevedillon@thecourier.com

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Seneca County facing lawsuit

TIFFIN — While the Seneca County Commissioners move forward with demolition plans for the county courthouse, an area newspaper has sued the three-member panel over withholding public records.

The Toledo Blade filed the lawsuit this week with the Ohio Supreme Court requesting the commissioners turn over all e-mails related to the structure's demolition. The newspaper also asked that demolition of the structure be delayed until the commissioners comply with the state's open records and open meeting laws.

The Blade first requested the information in August, seeking all e-mails from Jan. 1, 2006 until now.

The newspaper claimed there were gaps during which no e-mails were provided and recently found archived e-mails weren't provided, either.

Commissioner Ben Nutter found the deleted archive file this week and informed legal counsel, which needs to review the documents for any attorney-client information in the documents.

The newspaper has been notified of the finding and that the information will be forthcoming.

"It wasn't anything intentional," said Commissioner Dave Sauber. He said the county has supplied the newspaper with all the requests. "This is one e-mail we are talking about, not 100."

The Blade lawsuit is the second one filed against the commissioners over the courthouse issue.

In May, six county residents alleged the commissioners violated the state's open-meeting law when they voted Aug. 15, 2006 on a 15-year building and space utilization master plan for the county.

But last month, visiting Judge Charles Wittenberg denied the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction to halt demolition since the plaintiff's failed to produce enough evidence of a violation.

The plaintiff's have filed an appeal with the Third District Court of Appeals, Lima.

The commissioners this week set Oct. 16 as the date to open "requests for qualifications" from companies interested in designing a new county courthouse to replace the 1884 structure.

The commissioners decided that once the qualifications are received they will select companies to interview and make a final decision.

Two public forums will be held to receive opinions on the design of a new facility.

Commissioners would have the final decision.

Qualifications from firms for the demolition of the structure are being sought.

An architectural firm estimated it would cost at least $13 million to renovate the historic courthouse.

But commissioners said the renovation still would not provide the county with enough office space.

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HPD facilities suffer over $33K in flood damages

By JIM MAURER

Staff Writer

Hancock Park District facilities sustained about $33,216 in damages resulting from last month's flood, according to a report presented by HPD Director Tim Brugeman to the park board Tuesday.

That figure climbs to about $36,880 when lost wages and facility rentals are added. The new figures are below previous estimates of $50,000 to $75,000.

The HPD board approved a transfer of $8,000 to pay for the replacement of telephone, computer terminals, furnace, air conditioning and a hot water tank which were all damaged at HPD headquarters on East Main Cross Street during the flooding. The transfer will cover a portion of the nearly $12,260 that has been paid so far.

Needed repairs at River Landings and Riverbend Recreation Area ranger station, estimated at $6,000 total by Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel, will include wall repair, ceiling repairs and electrical work.

Also about $13,000 will be needed to replace various pieces of HPD-owned equipment, including two generators, four canoes, two kayaks and 12 steel picnic tables which floated away in the floodwaters.

Lost wages, paid to employees unable to come to work during the Level 3 flood emergency, were estimated at about $3,556.

Board Chairman Bill Miller, on behalf of commissioners Jerry Hawkins and Gwen Kuenzli, thanked the more than 40 volunteers, area park district personnel and others who assisted during the post-flood cleanup effort. HPD personnel toured the various HPD facilities with FEMA investigators on Aug. 25.

The board also approved a resolution for collection of $1,212,790 during tax year 2008 (beginning Jan. 1), as certified by the Hancock County Budget Commission. It will be the final year of collection of an 0.8-mill, 8-year replacement levy approved by voters in March 2000.

At the October board session, there will be a discussion on tax issue options and long-term park needs before the board makes a final decision later this year on what to place on the March 2008 ballot. As of now, it will be the only issue on the spring ballot, Brugeman has said. A final decision will be made in November and the resolution to place the issue on the March ballot will be acted on in December. The deadline for issues for the primary election is Dec. 20.

The board approved a bid of $157 per acre from Jeff Schimmoeller to farm 60 acres of land adjacent to Oakwoods Nature Preserve for a two-year period through fall 2009. He will utilize normal fertilizer and herbicides "appropriate for good conservation practices," according to HPD information.

Funds will be sought, via a grant from the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, to hire a "project manager" for the relocation of the Township Road 241 bridge which leads into Riverbend Recreation Area. The wrought iron bridge will be moved into the recreation area and provide a link between Oxbow Activity Area and the primitive campground. Hancock Parks Foundation and HPD will seek $6,475 in funds.

A portion of those funds will be used to pay Vern Mesler, a historic steel bridge enthusiast from Lansing, Mich., to serve as project manager and a portion will be used for educational purposes in relation to the move and historical background of the bridge. Information will be placed on a plaque that will be located at the bridge's new location. Movie and still pictures will be taken of the entire project to further document the occasion.

The bridge relocation will be done in three phases: removal from the abutments, dismantling and rebuilding in the new location.

A new wooden covered bridge, under the direction of the Hancock County engineer's office, will be put in place on Township Road 241 by late 2008. The current bridge will be moved just prior to the new bridge construction to minimize disruption of traffic, Brugeman said.

During a review of the Blanchard River Greenway Trails extension project, the 10-foot wide paved pedestrian, jogging and bike path from downtown to Riverside Park, Brugeman said revised plans call for the installation of a retaining wall made of poured concrete with reinforced steel. Also banks along the river will be cleared of dead trees and scrub growth prior to the construction work. Estimates will be sought for that portion of the project. The trees will be replaced when lights are installed along the path.

The overall project will be bid in winter or early spring. Construction will be undertaken in summer 2008 and completed that year. It's being funded mainly by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Following the regular meeting, the board traveled to Benton Ridge and Jenera community parks to talk with local officials about improvements at both locations. The visits were the last two scheduled this year.

Contact Staff Writer Jim Maurer at:

(419) 427-8420

jimmaurer@thecourier.com

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Mental health, sales tax issue on fall ballot

By JIM MAURER

Staff Writer

UPPER SANDUSKY — Wyandot County voters will face two countywide levies when they go to the polls in November.

In Carey, voters will elect a new mayor and two school board members.

The deadline for issues and non-partisan candidates to be placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot has recently passed. The deadline for write-in candidates to file was earlier this month, and nobody filed for any of the Carey offices.

County voters will decide whether to renew the one-half percent sales and use tax, first approved by voters in 2005.

The tax, if approved, would continue to provide funds for the county sheriff's office and emergency medical services operations. Voters approved the issue in 2005 after the county commissioners had imposed the tax in July 2003. Voters then repealed it in March 2004, before adopting a three-year measure with specified allocations for the funds in 2005.

Also, the multi-county Mental Health & Recovery Services Board is seeking an additional 0.8 mill, five-year levy for counseling and supportive services to children, adults and senior citizens.

In Carey, residents will elect a new mayor for the first time in 24 years this fall. Three people are seeking to replace Mayor Dallas Risner, who isn't seeking re-election after 30 years of public service. He will complete his sixth term as mayor — split between two different stints in the office. He also served six years on village council.

Current village councilmen, independent Robert E. "Bob" Styer Jr., 620 E. Findlay St., and Republican John S. Rymer, 601 W. Findlay St., will be joined on the ballot by independent candidate Nancy K. Maison, 323 Lakeland Ave., who is currently executive director of the Carey Area Chamber of Commerce.

The mayor's post is a part-time position which will pay $11,500 annually.

It's the only village race which voters will decide, according to the Wyandot County Board of Elections.

There are two seats open on village council, but independent candidates Clinton Spradlin, 616 W. Findlay St., and council newcomer Michael D. Blair, 610 Fairlane Drive, are unopposed for the posts.

Clerk-treasurer Antonia "Toni" Ahlberg, also an independent, is unopposed for re-election, too.

There is a field of 12 people seeking the two open seats on the Carey Board of Education as current members Linden Beck and Bob Buckland decided not to seek re-election. School board members are paid $125 per meeting for up to 16 meetings per year.

The candidates include:

Tamara S. Wyatt, 3193 Township Highway 88; Mike Roszman, 15548 Township Highway 20; Brian Will, 320 Grove St.; Gregory McCartney, 3466 County Highway 97; Dan Hyatt, 407 Dogwood Lane; Mary Rittler, 306 S. Patterson St.; Matthew Ricker, 208 W. North St.; Douglas Keller, 5131 County Highway 97; Andrew Baldridge, 560 S. Patterson St.; Robert L. Wedge, 122 W. South St.; Trisha DeAmicis, 101 Oakwood Place; Angel Tackett, 116 W. Chris St.

Other issues on the ballot include:

• A 1.3-mill five-year renewal tax levy for current expenses in Upper Sandusky.

•A 1-mill five-year renewal tax levy for current expenses in Marseilles Township.

• A 1-mill five-year renewal tax levy for current expenses in Richland Township.

• A 0.3-mill four-year replacement tax levy for current expenses in Richland Township.

• A 1.5-mill five-year replacement tax levy for current expenses in Jackson Township.

• A liquor option for Sunday sales from 1 p.m. to midnight at Carey Conservation Sportsman's Association, a private club at 2877 Township Road 106, Carey.

• A liquor option for Sunday sales from 10 a.m. to midnight for Moreno's Casual Dining restaurant, 109 W. Findlay St., Carey.

• A liquor option for carry-out of beer, wine and mixed beverages for Wal-Mart Supercenter, 1855 E. Wyandot Ave., Upper Sandusky.

Contact Staff Writer Jim Maurer at:

(419) 427-8420

jimmaurer@thecourier.com

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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 purse was taken Sunday from an auto at 329 W. Trenton Ave.

Playstation equipment was removed Monday from 409 Defiance Ave.

Police investigated an assault at 1833 Harrison St. on Monday.

A Findlay man reported Monday that he had received four fraudulent traveler's checks.

Three people issued a total of 23 bad checks to Great Scot stores. These reports were filed Monday.

A youth was expected to be cited Monday for criminal damaging after using a chain to strike a parked car outside 539 S. Main St.

A man, later found to be wanted under a county warrant, was arrested for drug paraphernalia possession following a Monday traffic stop in the 1300 block of North Blanchard Street.

Two men were charged Tuesday for possessing drug paraphernalia at 1222 Crystal Glen Blvd., Apt. F. One man was also wanted under a warrant.

Percocet was pilfered from a vehicle at 1119 Bernard Ave. on Tuesday.

Sheriff's Office

A rural Findlay man was charged Monday for failing to control his Chevy Silverado, which struck a gas line marker pipe before coming to rest in a bean field near the intersection of Jackson Township Roads 180 and 168.

A truck left ruts in a yard at 14801 Ohio 235 on Aug. 21.

Two family members were involved in a domestic dispute at a County Road 109 residence Sunday.

The hood of a vehicle was scratched Monday at 19938 U.S. 224.

Courthouse

Common Pleas Court

The following activity took place in Hancock County Common Pleas Court:

Angelina Pina, 35, of Fostoria, was placed on community control sanctions (CCS) for five years by Judge Joseph Niemeyer on three, fourth-degree felony trafficking in cocaine convictions. Pina was indicted in May for selling cocaine on Feb. 13, 14 and 21. The severity of each of the charges was increased because the transactions occurred within 1,000 feet of Central Middle School. The defendant will have to serve a 24-month sentence if she fails to complete her CCS.

Pamela S. Deal, 38, of Findlay, was convicted of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor, by Judge Niemeyer, who ordered a pre-sentence investigation. Deal had been indicted on a fifth-degree felony theft charge after she stole more than $500 cash from a local Wal-Mart between Aug. 16 and Sept. 20, 2006. The charge was reduced as part of a plea bargain.

Marriage Licenses

Joshua D. Richmond, Fostoria, construction, to Nicole E. Main, Fostoria, day care.

Joseph D. Rucker, 222½ Western Ave., technician, to Amber M. Spoors, 222½ Western Ave., chiropractic assistant.

Ryan P. Westenbarger, McComb, security guard, to Patricia Ann Moran, Avon, insurance agent.

James M. Linville, Fostoria, laborer, to Julie M. Kings, Fostoria, receptionist.

Brad Ferguson, Fostoria, quality technician, to Nadina Ann Blair, Fostoria, herbalist.

Seth N. Bush, McComb, laborer, to Kelli M. Cunningham, McComb, teacher.

Andrew S. Kirk, Texas, I.T. technician, to Jennifer J. LaRoche, Texas, clerical.

Daniel A. Rieman, Ottawa, retired, to Norma J. Haley, 1721 Brookside Drive, payroll analyst.

Brock R. Mason, Van Buren, Friends employee, to Amy R. McGrain, Van Buren, Findlay Country Club employee.

Danville W. Howell, 1904 Gayle Lane, recording producer, to Angela J. Swanson, 107½ E. Sandusky St., legal assistant.

David A. Spitsnaugle, 1469 Eastshore Drive, retired, to Diane E. Rentz, 1469 Eastshore Drive, retired.

Garrett T. Kasselder, 135 E. Foulke Ave., relationship manager, to Jennifer K. Helms, 7810 Driftwood Drive, surgical coordinator.

David S. Mast, 1300 Kensington Drive, engineering manager, to Laura Ann Phillips, 1300 Kensington Drive, advanced accountant.

Real Estate Transfers

Jeffrey T. and Deborah M. Sterrett to National City Bank, Lots 72-73, Kagy Addition, Van Buren.

John R. and Jo Ann Bower to Thomas W. Creech, Section 20, 2 acres, and Section 20, 3.211 acres, Eagle Township.

Wilma M. Arlington to John B. Arlington, Section 34, 78.758 acres, Jackson Township.

Royster Clark Inc. and Royster Clark Agribusiness Realty to Crop Production Services, Section 33, 1.802 acres, and Section 34, 2.384 acres, Liberty Township.

Steven M. and Betty J. Nagy to Michael E. Heldman II and Michealna R. Powell, Lots 12-13, West Park Subdivision Replat Addition, Findlay.

First Federal Bank to Tommy G. and Ruthanne I. Springer, Lots 23-24, D Peters 1st Addition, Arcadia.

Fire Calls

Tuesday

4:49 a.m., 307 Clinton St., EMS call.

12:15 p.m., 1925 Park St., EMS call.

2:07 p.m., 122 E. Sandusky St., EMS call.

3:58 p.m., 1501 N. Main St., alarm sounded unintentionally.

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