Review Category : Local News

UPDATE: City Council Rejects Request From CO-OP To Modify Franchise Agreement

5/3/2016 – 10:37 pm

After much debate and discussion over the past couple of months, the Findlay City Council voted to reject a proposal brought by Hancock-Wood Electric CO-OP to modify their franchise agreement with the City of Findlay.

At issue was a situation in which Hancock-Wood wished for clarification as to their rights to operate in Findlay city limits. In rural areas, electric utilities are divided among territories, and different utility companies are permitted to only service their own territories. But when the City of Findlay annexed rural property into the city limits, it brought in territory that was serviced by Hancock-Wood.

American Electric Power (AEP) is permitted to supply service to customers within all city limits, and Hancock-Wood is permitted to service customers within their previous territory boundaries. In the past, when a situation would develop that made their service areas intersect, both utilities would negotiate with each other and work out a service agreement. One might take a load from a customer in exchange for an equal load elsewhere and they would swap services.

The issue at hand arose when the Romark company contracted with AEP to deliver services to their plant in Findlay. That plant is in Hancock-Wood service territory. At the time, Hancock-Wood was not in a position to adequately supply needed services to Rowmark, but they have since made that investment. They wanted to be able to negotiate with Rowmark for cheaper utility rates. AEP serviced the customer without a territorial swap with Hancock-Wood.

While both sides have said that this issue would be brought before the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, (PUCO) that board would be looking for direction from the City of Findlay as to their intent on rules for both utilities operations in Findlay. Hancock-Wood asked the Findlay City Council if it could state that the intent was for the utilities to operate under the previous territory agreements.

The measure was barely defeated on its third reading by a vote of six to four. On the yes side, Councilman Jeff Wobser said that his initial intent was to vote against the measure, but after hearing from representatives from AEP state that should a similar situation like this happen in the future, they would do the same again, his mind was changed.

Audio: Jeff Wobser

On the no side, Councilman Grant Russel said that he believed that the existing agreements were sufficient to address how both utilities should operate in the city limits, and he noted that his no vote was not to disagree with Hancock-Wood. Indeed, Russel said that he was disappointed that AEP chose, in this one case, to operate contrary to what had historically been established business practices for both utilities.

Audio: Grant Russel

Russel said afterward that if Hancock-Wood wanted a representative from the City Council to testify to PUCO about the intent of the current franchise agreements, he would be available to do so. Hancock-Wood stated previously that the dispute would be resolved by PUCO. They had only asked the city to modify their own franchise agreement to reflect existing territories. The matter will now have to be decided by PUCO.

Hancock-Wood stated previously that the dispute would be resolved by PUCO. They had only asked the city to modify their own franchise agreement to reflect existing territorial boundaries. The dispute will now have to be decided by PUCO.


WFIN spoke with Hancock-Wood CEO George Walton Wednesday morning. Walton said that while they were disappointed with the council’s decision, they appreciated the comments from members indicating that they wished to see both utilities operate as they had done so previously. As to where they go from this point, Walton said they would be exploring options.

Audio: George Walton

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Blanchard River Cresting In Ottawa Today

5/3/2016 – 4:01pm

The Blanchard River is cresting at Ottawa this afternoon after recent rains drove river levels up to below minor flood stage.

As of 2:30 p.m., the Blanchard River was at 20.5 feet and cresting. Minor flood stage is at 23 feet. The Blanchard River had reached its “action stage” at Ottawa, the level at which local authorities should prepare to take action against possible flooding. No flood watches or warnings were active as of 3:30 p.m. in Putnam County.

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Be Aware Of The Dangers Of Prolonged Sun Exposure In May

5/3/2016 – 3:52 pm

May is National Melanoma Awareness Month. Jessica Siefker, Health Educator with Hancock Public Health says that Melanoma typically happens when people don’t take precautions when exposed to long periods of time in sunlight.

Audio: Jessica Siefker

Prolonged exposure to sunlight in and of itself doesn’t cause melanoma to develop but it is a contributing factor. Additionally, various skin conditions and family history can play a role. Siefker says that melanoma is one of the most preventable types of cancer if people take extra precautions when venturing out for long periods of time.

Audio: Jessica Siefker

Siefker says that for adults, the best sunscreen would be that which is labeled SPF 30 or higher to prevent sunburns and other factors which contribute to melanoma. Additionally, people need to remember to wear headgear that can block out sun rays and long pants if possible.

May has been chosen as a month to be aware of the dangers of melanoma. While excess exposure to sunlight can be an issue at any time of the year, Siefker says that typically in May people start venturing outside for longer periods of time.

Audio: Jessica Siefker

Siefker says that if you should have a question about a mole or if you’ve been exposed to excess sunlight recently, consult your doctor to see if you may have any issues related to melanoma.

To increase people’s chances of spotting skin cancer early, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone learn the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:

A – is for Asymmetry: One-half of the mole does not match the other half.

B – is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.

C – is for Color that varies from one area to another.

D – is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.

E – is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV damage can also cause wrinkles and blotches or spots on your skin. The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented, and it can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. Take simple steps today to protect your skin: Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Put on sunscreen every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat. Cover up with long sleeves and a hat. Check your skin regularly for changes.

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Hotel Workers Urged To Watch For Warning Signs Of Human Trafficking

5/3/16 – 11:26 A.M.

Findlay and Hancock County business leaders learned more about human trafficking in our area during a Tuesday meeting. Rick McGinnis is a security expert, and says in a community with as many hotels as Findlay, people need to keep an eye out…

Audio: Rick McGinnis

McGinnis said he didn’t want to talk about all the different things law enforcement looks for because he wouldn’t want to compromise investigation techniques. He will be talking to area hotel workers about what to watch for at a meeting in June.

McGinnis works for Chagrin Solutions, a private investigation and security services company based in Findlay.

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Commissioner Robertson Says He Hears From Both Sides Of Mitigation Debate

5/3/16 – 11:08 A.M.

We typically hear a lot from those against an Eagle Creek diversion channel. But that doesn’t mean supporters don’t exist. Hancock County Commissioner Brian Robertson says he recently met with a couple of residents who want to see mitigation plans finalized and put in place…

Audio: Brian Robertson

Robertson says the group wanted to make sure that separating from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the best option, among other concerns…

Audio: Brian Robertson

Robertson adds he understands why those against a diversion channel are more vocal, saying that they have concerns about their property. That said, he said he hears from both sides of the argument quite a bit.

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Blanchard River Tree Removal Effort Continues

5/3/16 – 10:40 A.M.

The effort to remove trees from the Blanchard River continues. Hancock County Commissioner Mark Gazarek gave an update on the project Tuesday…

Audio: Mark Gazarek

Gazarek says tree removal from the river should be finished by the end of the summer. Crews will come back to remove trees from the river within the city limits in the fall. Gazarek says tree removal in Findlay is a little more difficult…

Audio: Mark Gazarek

Gazarek adds that nearly 50 percent of the nearly 10,000 trees marked for removal this year have been taken out of the waterway.

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Debate About Policy Manual Boils Over At Arlington Council Meeting

5/3/16 – 6:53 A.M.

Tempers flared at Monday’s Arlington Village Council meeting. The Courier reports the issue stemmed from debate over who is in charge of updating a policy manuals for future councils. Councilman Brian Essinger said the Finance Committee of council is responsible for making compensation and employee policy recommendations. That led to a heated debate between he and Mayor Ed Solt. Solt said he wondered who “owns” the employee manual, and how it would be changed or reviewed in the future.

Solt threatened to gavel the meeting to a close if Essinger continued to be “disruptive,” and the two interrupted each other. Village Soliciter Don Rasmussen asked the two to calm down, saying the conversations were getting ridiculous.

Essinger submitted his resignation earlier this year after a dispute about employee issues. The resignation is effective at the end of June.

MORE: The Courier

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Carey Council Members Won’t Get Raises

5/3/16 – 5:21 A.M.

Carey village council members will not be getting pay raises. The Courier reports council members split on their vote, with Mayor Steve Smalley breaking the tie by voting against the proposal. If the issue had passed, it wouldn’t have gone into effect until the beginning of the next term for council members.

Chad Kin, Armand Getz and Mellisa Cole voted for the increase, while council members Lois Kurtz, Bob Styer and Jennifer Rathburn voted against it. Kin and Getz said they supported the increase because a survey showed Carey council members were near the bottom of a survey of what council members in similar villages are paid.

The proposal also would have eliminated the mayor’s health insurance. Smalley’s $12,000 a year salary and benefits put him at the top of a list of mayor’s salaries.

MORE: The Courier

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Officers Conduct Drug Investigation In Ottawa

5/3/16 – 5:09 A.M.

Law enforcement responded to a tip that a meth lab was operating in an Ottawa apartment building Monday night. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports a search warrant was served at the Blanchard Park Apartments at 1265 North Defiance Street around 7 p.m.

Officers say they found heroin paraphernalia and “precursors for the manufacturing of methamphetamine.”

No arrests were made and the case remains under investigation.

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Survey Finds Residents Want Local Control Of Schools

5/3/16 – 5:00 A.M.

Most parents in our region would prefer local control of school curriculum. Those are the findings of a survey conducted by a group of regional school leaders. The Courier reports the Northwest/West Central Ohio Public School Advocacy Network surveyed people in March to get their input on the issue. Around 4,600 people took the 17 question survey.

Roughly 78 percent of the people who responded said the local school board should control the district. The other choices on that question included the federal government, state government, or unsure. 58 percent of the respondents said, “regulation from the state and federal government” is the biggest issues schools face.

40 percent of those surveyed said public education has gotten worse over the last five years.

The group, which includes Cory-Rawson, Liberty-Benton, McComb and Riverdale, opposes government-mandated education standards. Part of the goal of the network is to regain local control over curriculum, testing, and how money is spent. They plan to show their findings to legislators.

MORE: The Courier

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