About the author  ⁄ Doug Jenkins

10/26/16 – 7:25 A.M.

Officials in Seneca County are working to keep the cost of the new joint justice center down. The Review-Times reports an update on expenses could come as early as tomorrow. The commissioners are waiting on information from the construction manager. A report from Gilbane Inc was due last Tuesday.

During a meeting earlier this month, construction officials told members of the Leadership Core Team the total cost could be around $15.4 million if they include certain upgrades. That’s $1 million more than the project estimate. To keep expenses in line with original estimates, the upgrades might not make the cut.

MORE: Review-Times

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10/26/16 – 5:31 A.M.

Absentee ballots are an increasingly popular way to vote. Numbers from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office show voters asked for more than 1.4 million ballots for the November general election. Around 27 percent of those who asked for the absentee ballots have returned them.

Local voters have been casting absentee ballots at a higher rate than the state average. In Hancock County the Secretary of State’s office mailed 7,100 ballots. 53 percent of those who asked for them have already returned them.

The Secretary of State’s office mailed 3,600 ballots to Putnam County voters, with around 47 percent mailed back already.

You can see a complete breakdown of the numbers in today’s Courier.

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10/26/16 – 5:18 A.M.

A man who admitted he murdered his son in Putnam County earlier this year was back in court Tuesday. The Lima News reports Travis Soto appeared during a pretrial hearing in Ottawa. Soto already served time in prison for a child endangerment conviction in the 2006 death of Julio Baldazo. However, he went to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in July and told deputies he murdered the boy.

Soto’s attorney Joseph Benavidez said his client had recently found religion and the incident was weighing on him. He added, “He made a confession. He expected to be released and to go to work.” Benavidez is arguing new charges of aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and kidnapping amount to double jeopardy.

Assistant prosecutor Todd Schroeder argued Soto knew what he was getting into. He said during Soto’s interview at the sheriff’s office in July, Soto said he thought he would go back to prison.

Judge Randal Basinger said he won’t rule until its determined if Soto is competent to stand trial.

MORE: Lima News

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10/26/16 – 4:57 A.M.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is using Red Ribbon Week as a reminder to parents not to host parties for teenagers with alcohol or other drugs. Red Ribbon Week started Monday and is a nationwide effort to educate kids about drugs and alcohol. As a part of that, the sheriff’s office is taking part in the “Parents Who Host Lose The Most” campaign.

A release from the sheriff’s office says that teenage drinking tends to increase during celebratory times like holidays, including Halloween. The release goes on to say that it isn’t safe or healthy for teenagers to drink alcohol and adults who allow it can face charges.

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10/26/16 – 4:23 A.M.

Construction headaches are over on a six-mile stretch of I-75 in Wood County. Ohio Department of Transportation officials say I-75 southbound opened to three lanes of traffic overnight between Portage and Oil Center roads. It’s the latest phase of the now two-year-old widening project between Perrysburg and Findlay to be completed.

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10/25/15 – 11:22 A.M.

The Hancock County Commissioners will clarify a resolution that authorizes payment for flood mitigation efforts. Commissioner Brian Robertson says resolution 494-16 appropriates $20,000 to get the ball rolling with the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District. He said the issue is that it doesn’t mention how much the overall contract is for…

Audio: Brian Robertson

The commissioners agreed to amend the resolution so that it also includes the scope of the entire contract with Stantec.

Robertson says that future resolutions that pay a part of the contract will state they are part of the deal with Stantec Consulting.

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10/25/16 – 7:29 A.M.

Hardin County is getting money from the state to try and prevent underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. The Lima News reports the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services gave $80,000 to nine Ohio counties to support the initiative.

The Partnership for Violence Free Families will administer the grant in Hardin County. The agency will spend the money on evidence-based programs to reduce underage drinking and prescription drug abuse.

MORE: Lima News

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10/25/16 – 7:21 A.M.

Campaign surrogates are hitting the Findlay area this week, encouraging supporters to get out and vote. Michigan Democratic U.S. Senator Gary Peters will be in Findlay Wednesday to stump for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Peters will be at the Clinton campaign headquarters at 830 North Main Street at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Peters is making a couple of other campaign stops in our area. He’ll go to Lima from Findlay. Later in the day, he’ll be in the Wyandot County village of Nevada. That stop is set for 5:15 at 1727 Grove Street.

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10/25/16 – 6:59 A.M.

The funds for an outdoor ice rink in McComb are in place. The Courier reports $6,200 in donations will make the rink a reality for the village this winter. The village will build the temporary structure on baseball diamond number 1 in the village park. Officials tell the newspaper the ball diamond is a better fit for the rink than the tennis courts.

Hearthside Food Solutions in McComb donated $3,100 for the project. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District will donate the plastic that goes underneath the rink, as well as water for the ice.

MORE: The Courier

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10/25/16 – 5:32 A.M.

A free downtown shuttle will be available in Findlay Friday night. Downtown Coordinator Carla Treadway says the trial run will help find out if there is a need for shuttle service in the downtown area. The shuttle will take 15 minutes to make a loop around several blocks, making 10 stops along the way. The service will run from 5:30 p.m. until midnight.

We have a list of the stops on our website.

The Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development is partnering with Hancock Area Transportation, or HATS, on the effort. The service will cost $46 an hour to operate. Treadway says she hopes to attract sponsors to the service to keep it going.

Shuttle Stops:

• The Marathon Center for the Performing Arts.
• North Main Street at Front Street.
• In front of the Hancock County Courthouse.
• South Main Street at Sandusky Street.
• South Main Street at Hardin Street, across from Marathon Petroleum Corp. headquarters.
• East Crawford Street parking garage.
• East Sandusky Street, between South Main and Beech streets.
• South Main Street between East Main Cross and East Crawford streets.
• Main Street at Main Cross Street.
• Findlay Inn and Conference Center, on East Main Cross Street.

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