About the author  ⁄ Doug Jenkins

4/20/16 – 5:29 A.M.

Findlay City Council appropriated $1.5 million for capital improvements during their Tuesday meeting. While that in it’s own right is standard business for council, the process of getting to that point was not without drama. Debate over whether the appropriation was necessary led to another round of questioning the communication between Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Auditor Jim Staschiak.

2nd Ward Councilman Dennis Hellman wanted to know why discussions about disagreements couldn’t take place before council meetings started. Councilwoman Holly Frische added that she didn’t get the information she needed to know about the issue. Following the meeting Mayor Mihalik said she didn’t know what Frische was talking about.

Mihalik said the debate Tuesday wasn’t caused by miscommunication. She said the issue was caused by a disagreement between her and Auditor Staschiak over whether the appropriation was needed.

Without Tuesday’s appropriation, the capital improvement fund would have fallen to just over $224,000.

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4/20/16 – 5:09 A.M.

The debate over how to make Findlay’s finances easily available to the public continues. Auditor Jim Staschiak said a tool will be in place by mid-summer to allow residents to look at the city’s ledgers. Deputy Auditor Ginger Sampson said the tool will be like the OhioCheckbook.com website, but will also include revenues.

That raises the question of why the city doesn’t just use the state’s website. Sampson said that the city’s accounting software, MUNIS, is made by a company that competes with the company that the state uses. Sampson said some governments have hired accounting firms to solve problems between the software. At least three companies that use MUNIS are listed on the state’s website.

Mayor Lydia Mihalik and representatives from the State Treasurer’s office have said that joining the state checkbook is as simple as downloading a spreadsheet.

Sampson said Findlay may only post numbers on the state’s website once a year. The local tool would be updated weekly.

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4/19/16 – 11:18 A.M.

The legal wheels continue to turn in the lawsuit filed against the University of Findlay by two former student-athletes. A recent filing from the lawyers for Justin Browning and Alphonso Baity voiced no opposition in dismissing several UF employees from parts the suit. Court documents show Assistant Dean of Students Brian Treece has been dismissed from all counts in the case. Six counts of the suit filed against six other University employees have also been dismissed.

The court filing opposed dropping the school’s board of trustees from the litigation. A previous filing from UF had called for the case to be dismissed.

Browning and Baity were expelled from the University of Findlay in the fall of 2014. A female student, listed only as “M.K.” in court documents, accused the men of sexually assaulting her following a party. Browning and Baity have filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming racial and gender discrimination among other things. The suit also says the investigation into the alleged incident was a “sham.”

Latest Court Filing:

Download (PDF, 41KB)

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4/19/16 – 10:35 A.M.

Several hundred people in the area report finding employment in March. The latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show a growing labor force in Hancock and the surrounding counties, as well as larger numbers of people holding down jobs. Most counties report lower numbers of people filing for unemployment benefits, meaning unemployment rates dipped last month.

For example, Hancock County’s number of people with jobs increased by 400 to 39,700; while the number of people filing for unemployment fell by 100 to 1,600. With a labor force of 41,400 people, that means the unemployment rate stands at 4 percent. That’s down slightly from 4.1 percent in February.

Wyandot County has the lowest jobless figure at 3.9 percent. Other counties below 5 percent unemployment include Putnam (4.2), Wood(4.5), and Hardin(4.8). Allen County was at 5 percent unemployment, while Wood was at 5.5 percent and Henry County was at 7 percent.

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4/19/16 – 7:27 A.M.

Carey village officials reviewed their agreement with the Carey school district for use of facilities at Memorial Park Monday. The Courier reports the school would like a long-term lease agreement with the village. The current agreement with the school district is for use of the football stadium.

Council President Armand Getz says Carey Schools Superintendent Mike Wank is in favor of a long-term lease that would also include the baseball diamond in the park. Wank said he is willing to allow public use of the field for much of the year, except during the high school baseball team’s season. In exchange the school district would maintain the property, freeing village employees for other projects.

No decision was made Monday.

MORE: The Courier

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4/19/16 – 6:52 A.M.

Experts say preschool helps children do better in school, and a grant could make it possible for more kids to get into preschool in Fostoria. The Courier reports the district has applied for an Early Childhood Expansion grant. The grant is worth $44,000 and would add an additional 11 slots to the district’s preschool program. There are already around 90 children attending the preschool provided by Fostoria City Schools, but 65 more are on a waiting list.

The grant will be awarded next week. If Fostoria is given the money, rooms at Longfellow School will be restructured over the summer to make room for extra students.

MORE: The Courier

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4/19/16 – 5:25 A.M.

Ground was broken for the latest Habitat for Humanity home in Putnam County over the past weekend. The Putnam County Sentinel reports 21 churches in the county have committed to help build the home in Leipsic. Habitat Executive Director Matt Rau say the churches will raise money, provide volunteers for construction, and arrange meals. More than 200 people have stepped up to help out.

Courtney and Zachary Payne will be the partner family for the project.

MORE: Putnam County Sentinel

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4/19/16 – 5:17 A.M.

A new shelter house in Arlington will have a few extra bells and whistles thanks to village council. The Courier reports the group voted Monday to spend $5,900 to make upgrades to the new structure. The money will pay for upgrades for overhead doors, build a sidewalk patio, add three ceiling fans to the building.

The plan is for the new shelter house in the park to open up this summer.

MORE: The Courier

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4/19/16 – 5:11 A.M.

Findlay’s impact on Arlington was discussed at a special Hancock County Commissioners meeting in the village Monday night. Mayor Ed Solt said the economic boom in the city has been good for the village, adding “all our money comes from Findlay.” He added that the downside of that is that increased truck traffic on U.S. 68 creates big maintenance issues for what is Main Street in the village.

Replacing the road and its foundation is expected to cost $4 million. Councilman Brian Essinger says the village is looking for help from all sources to come up with the funding to fix Main Street. The village has applied for a $500,000 Ohio Public Works grant that could be used to hire engineers to develop a plan to replace the roadway. A decision on the grant is expected in May.

MORE: The Courier

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4/19/16 – 5:05 A.M.

Eight engineering firms are interested in designing a diversion channel for Eagle Creek south of Findlay. The Courier reports the packets from the companies were opened at a special Hancock County Commissioners meeting in Arlington Monday night. The commissioners have not made a decision on if the county will move forward with an accelerated timeline for the diversion channel or wait for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finish their study. The Corps plan could take another year to finish.

During the meeting, Arlington Mayor Ed Solt voiced his concern about the proposed channel, saying that the project would “affect us too.” Diversion channel opponents have argued water could back up into Arlington if the channel is built.

Firms Applying:

A&E Engineering – Cleveland
Arcadis – Toledo
Bockrath & Associates – Ottawa
C&E Consultants – Centerburg
DGL Consulting Engineers – Maumee
E.L. Robinson Engineering – Columbus
Hull & Associates – Toledo
Stantec – Toledo.

MORE: The Courier

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