About the author  ⁄ Doug Jenkins

4/21/16 – 4:55 A.M.

Arcadia school board members got an update on proposed upgrades to the school building Wednesday night. The Courier reports Jerry Murray of RCM Architects presented renovation plans in 2011, but no action was taken then. With some new school board members and administrators now working in the district, Wednesday served as a refresher course.

Some improvements suggested for the buildings include additional restrooms, more security measures, and more classroom space. A second gym has also been talked about.

The cost of implementing the upgrades has gone up over the last few years. In 2013, the price was estimated to be $10.5 million. The figure now stands at $13.7 million.

MORE: The Courier

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4/20/16 – 9:08 A.M.

The fate of Shannon Cemetery in Bluffton will be finalized by early June. Village council has asked Solicitor Steve Chamberlain to write legislation to adopt recommendations made by the Shannon Cemetery Commission. Some of the recommendations include putting gravestones back on the sites of known graves and creating a memorial area with gravestones that don’t have a burial location. The project would be paid for with donations.

A final vote on the issue is expected to come at a June 6 council meeting. Plans to turn the cemetery into a memorial park were controversial, and led to the formation of the cemetery commission.

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4/20/16 – 7:36 A.M.

The Seneca County Commissioners have signed off on an agreement with Fostoria and Tiffin to continue a grant program that helps repair dilapidated homes. The Courier reports the two-year program provides $1.2 million to the county. Both Fostoria and Tiffin have already signed off on similar agreements to take part in the program.

The grants allow homeowners who meet certain qualifications to apply for up to $30,000 in home repairs. Payment for rehabilitation is partially funded through the grant and a zero interest deferred loan. The loan is repaid when the property is sold or there is a change in who lives in the home.

MORE: The Courier

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4/20/16 – 7:18 A.M.

A Fostoria teen allegedly brought a BB gun onto school grounds Tuesday. Fostoria Police Chief Keith Loreno says a 13-year-old boy was arrested late Tuesday afternoon. Officers received a call about the incident around 3:18 p.m. Just after 3:30 p.m. parents received a message from Superintendent Andrew Sprang that safety procedures had been put in place.

Chief Loreno says the BB gun could have easily been mistaken for a pistol. He added he wasn’t sure what charges the teen might face. No specific threats were made against any students or staff members.

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4/20/16 – 6:59 A.M.

It seems residents in Fostoria will be allowed to keep chickens on their property, but how that will be regulated is the subject of debate. The Courier reports two competing ordinances on the issue were heard by city council Tuesday night. Zoning Inspector Sandy Coleman proposes no more than six chickens be permitted on a property. Anyone wanting to keep chickens would have to get a permit and keep the birds in a coup. An initial inspection of the coup would also be required.

Jonathan Hay owns chickens in the city and has a counter proposal. He says inspections should only be required if there are complaints filed. Coleman said she gets around three complaints a month about chickens running loose in the city.

Both proposals were tabled for further discussion.

MORE: The Courier

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4/20/16 – 6:47 A.M.

A Findlay man has been indicted for allegedly stabbing his father. The Courier reports 34-year-old Joel Drain faces a felonious assault charge. He remains in custody at the Hancock County jail.

Police officers were called to the home of 59-year-old Edwin Drain on April 8. They found he had a puncture wound on the back of his neck and cuts on his face. Investigators say Joel Drain used a knife to attack his father. He was later arrested following a traffic stop.

MORE: The Courier

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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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