About the author  ⁄ Doug Jenkins

2/11/15 – 6:52 A.M.

Seneca County residents who can’t afford to make home improvements might be able to now thanks to a grant. The Courier reports the county commissioners have released federal grant money to the Wood Sandusky Ottawa Seneca Community Action Commission. The money will allow those in need in Fostoria and Tiffin to make home upgrades.

The $975,000 grant will last two years. The cash can be used for rehabilitation of private homes, rent assistance, repair of failing systems in owner-occupied homes, and administrative fees.

MORE: The Courier

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2/11/15 – 5:25 A.M.

The Hancock Park District Board approved a new environmental policy Tuesday. The Courier reports the new guidelines include efforts to increase recycling and to install energy efficient products at their facilities. The organization will also examine using solar and wind energy.

Parks director Gary Pruitt said the department will be practical about implementing the programs. He said the board will be “open-minded” to the feasibility of energy efficiency projects. Pruitt added that they would examine proposals on a case-by-case basis.

MORE: The Courier

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2/11/15 – 5:07 A.M.

Plans for an alternative sentencing center for drunken drivers in Findlay continue to move forward. The Courier reports Findlay Municipal Court judges would like to have a proposal on the subject in front of city council sometime this year. The goal of the program would be to get misdemeanor DUI offenders treatment instead of putting them in an already overcrowded jail.

If approved, the alternative sentencing center would be established in the Work Opportunity & Rehabilitation Center on Crawford Street. That’s a work-release facility already in operation.

In 2013, there were 231 people jailed for OVI offenses in Hancock County. Findlay Municipal Judge Robert Fry tells the newspaper if the alternative sentencing center had existed then, it would have opened up thousands of jail days for others waiting to serve their sentences.

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2/10/15 – 10:57 A.M.

A handful of Hancock County employees have been caught off guard by a penalty on their tax returns this year. Seven employees recently told the auditor’s office they’ve been penalized for not having health insurance. Commissioner Mark Gazarek says it’s too late for them to enroll in the county plan so they can avoid the fine this year…

Audio: Mark Gazarek

That could mean more county employees join the health plan next year to avoid tax penalties. Gazarek says he believes the impact of carrying more employees on the plan would have little effect on the budget…

Audio: Mark Gazarek

He added that several meetings were held over the last two years to warn employees they could be fined for not carrying health insurance.

Gazarek says the penalties stem from Obamacare mandates.

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2/10/14 – 8:55 A.M.

A Wood County family was driven from their home by a fire early this morning. Media partner WTOL-11 reports firefighters were called to a home on Caskie Road near Portage to battle the blaze. Eight fire engines were used, but cold temperatures made things difficult. The water trucked in to fight the flames kept freezing, and there weren’t fire hydrants in the area.

Nobody was injured in the fire. The home was a total loss.

MORE: WTOL

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2/10/15 – 6:49 A.M.

Carey school officials are considering building a new greenhouse as part of the new school building. The Courier reports the school board talked about the potential project at their Tuesday meeting. There is a greenhouse at the current school building, but it would be difficult to move because the support poles are anchored into the ground.

Cost is also an issue. To build a new greenhouse, it would cost at least $150,000. Superintendent Mike Wank said the current greenhouse was built from a kit by school employees for $10,000. The school board said they were opposed to spending $150,000, but want more information before making a decision.

MORE: The Courier

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2/10/15 – 5:36 A.M.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture wants the case involving Tiger Ridge Exotics to be dismissed. A motion filed yesterday claims they have exclusive jurisdiction to investigate and transfer wild animals that aren’t registered or that are being kept in violation. Nearly a dozen animals were removed from Tiger Ridge Exotics last month, but a Wood County court ordered them to be returned. The state says the court doesn’t have the authority to issue that order.

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2/10/15 – 5:25 A.M.

McComb is getting a grant to help spur economic development. The Courier reports the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation awarded a “Heart and Soul” grant worth $130,000 to the village. The money will be used to form a plan for economic growth.

The process will take two years. The grant puts an emphasis on residents input and local decision-making.

The community foundation says McComb’s work will serve as a “pilot” for future partnerships between the organization and villages in Hancock County.

MORE: The Courier

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2/10/15 – 5:16 A.M.

The coordinator of the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership has concerns about funding for the organization. The Courier reports Phil Martin spoke to the Findlay Rotary Club about the future of the BRWP Monday. Martin said he is concerned state funding for watershed coordinators could be lost in the next state budget. His position is funded through June.

Despite the concerns, Martin says the partnership has a big 2015 planned. One of the biggest projects includes chemical testing with help from the Sierra Club. Around 80 sites in the watershed will be tested on a monthly basis between March and October. The BRWP will try and get grants to help improve areas where water is found to be polluted.

MORE: The Courier

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