About the author  ⁄ Doug Jenkins

2/25/14 – 5:14 A.M.

Overtime costs to keep Hancock County roads clear this winter are just shy of $100,000. County Engineer Christopher Long says the 3,270 overtime hours have cost $94,300 this year. Last year that figure was $19,600.

The effort to keep snow and ice off the county roads has been expensive on the supply side of the equation as well. Long says so far it’s taken 400 more tons of salt compared to last winter to keep the roads clear.

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2/25/14 – 5:08 A.M.

The next superintendent of the Findlay City School system met the public Monday night. The Courier reports Edward Kurt and his family were on hand at Monday’s school board meeting. Kurt, who is currently the superintendent at Margaretta Local Schools, will begin his duties in Findlay on August 1. Until that time current Findlay superintendent Dean Wittwer will assist with the transition period.

School board president Shane Pochard said, “It’s been a long process, but throughout it, Ed rose to the top. We look forward to Kurt moving us up from here.”

MORE: The Courier

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2/25/14 – 5:01 A.M.

The Blanchard River remains in minor flood stage in Ottawa this morning.  The river crested at 25.52 feet early Monday morning and has slowly falling since then.  The National Weather Service estimates the Blanchard will be back under flood stage by this evening.  Roads in low lying areas near the river remain closed this morning.

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2/25/14 – 4:56 A.M.

Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik highlighted many ongoing efforts in the city during her state of the city address Monday night. Mihalik talked about a wide range of subjects, including city finances, downtown development, and areas where city services can be stronger.

On the subject of city finances, Mihalik said that the new health insurance plan is resulting in big savings for the city. Along with other measures taken, Findlay is now operating with a $1.6 million general fund surplus. Mihalik also said strategic planning is showing where the city’s operational strengths are, along with areas where things can improve.

Speaking of improvements, the mayor talked about using the budget surplus to fund a couple of different safety service initiatives. The Police Department will bring back its special assignment unit, which will focus on specific crimes in different neighborhoods. The Fire Department will return Ladder Number 1 to full service.

Mihalik also talked about the numerous changes happening downtown, saying Marathon Petroleum’s $80 million plans to expand its complex and the construction of a new performing arts center are positioning the area for success.

The mayor also addressed flood mitigation, saying with the region seeking around $1.5 million from the federal government to pay for the final phase of the flood study; some of those costs should be shouldered by the Army Corps of Engineers. She added she was optimistic about what will happen in the next couple of weeks in regard to study funding.

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2/24/14 – 12:21 A.M.

Tiffin law enforcement officials are celebrating a dramatic drop in the city’s crime rate. The Advertiser-Tribune reports overall crime was down 60% between 2012 and 2013. Police Chief Fred Stevens tells the newspaper he credits proactice policing for the results.

Stats from the police department show there were 1,157 “part-1″ crimes reported in 2012. That was down to 457 last year. “Part-1″ crimes include murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, thefts and automobile thefts.

MORE: Advertiser-Tribune

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2/24/14 – 12:15 P.M.

Another well-known country act has signed on to play at this year’s Allen County Fair. Jon Pardi, who has hits like “Up All Night” and “Missin’ You Crazy” has signed on to open for Toby Keith for the August 23 concert. Pardi played the fair two years ago, opening for Dierks Bentley.

Tickets for the event go on sale March 8.

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2/24/14 – 11:55 A.M.

The cost to fill up your gas tank keeps going up in Ohio. OhioGasPrices.com reports the average price of self-serve regular is up 11-cents this week to $3.54 a gallon. Locally, Findlay prices were hovering around the $3.57 on average around midday.

While statewide prices were lower a month ago, they are below what we were paying at this time last year.

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2/24/14 – 11:54 A.M.

Efforts to find ways to cut costs on housing inmates took a delegation from Findlay and Hancock County to Clermont County today. Commissioner Phil Riegle spoke with us before getting a look at the Clermont County Community Alternative Sentencing Center. Riegle said that the group wanted to see if the program or elements of it can work locally.

According to the Alternative Sentencing Center’s website, the facility provides drug and alcohol treatment services, a work release program, education services, and re-rentry planning among other options. The goal is to provide low-level offenders with a path back into society; at a lower price than what it costs to house inmates in the county jail.

Riegle says while the goal is to reduce the cost to house inmates, if the program can lower the amount of repeat offenders it’s certainly worth the effort to see if it could work in Hancock County.

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2/24/14 – 4:54 A.M.
Update – 8:16 A.M.
Update – 11:00 A.M.

High water across the region is starting to recede. The Blanchard River in Findlay spilled over its banks Saturday, cresting in the moderate flood stage at nearly 12.2 feet early Sunday morning. The river dropped back below flood stage late last night.

Downstream in Ottawa the river crested in minor flood stage at 25.5 feet. The National Weather Service now calls for the river to drop below flood stage tomorrow night.

In Putnam County the Auglaize River is also in flood stage, having crested the moderate flood stage at 17.4 feet Sunday morning. The river is expected to fall below flood stage late tonight.

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2/24/14 – 5:22 A.M.

The Seneca County Sheriff’s Office is giving St. Patrick’s Day revelers an early notice – they’ll be out in force that weekend. A press release from the agency says deputies will be conducting a high visibility enforcement overtime patrol St. Patrick’s Day weekend in an effort to keep impaired drivers off the road.

The overtime project is funded by a grant issued through the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Office of Criminal Justice Services.

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