The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jul. 22, 2018

Opinions

As the school year winds down to an end, I find myself reflecting on the tragic events that took place over the past year within our schools. It is high time that we come together as a state and as a nation with creative solutions to better protect our schools, which seem to have become top targets.

None of us want to live in a world where parents fear letting their children go to class each day. Our school boards already have the ability to permit armed staffers in schools, which schools in northwest Ohio are already taking advantage of.

By State Rep. Craig Riedel

In order to focus more on this issue locally, the Ohio House is making school safety a top priority. We must give our districts more options for security and safety plans, allowing them to decide what works best for their schools and community. We recently passed legislation that includes a provision giving educational service centers (ESCs) the ability to levy a property tax that will specifically fund school security and mental health services. This permissive bill upholds local control and allows the community to come together to decide if it needs more funding for school safety.

Additionally, we approved House Bill 318, appropriating $10 million in fiscal year 2019 for grants to public and chartered nonpublic schools for school safety programs and training for school resource officers (SROs). Many districts already employ SROs, but current law doesn’t define their role, the duties that accompany it, or training requirements for the position.

The legislation would institute certain training obligations and better prepare SROs for emergency situations that may occur on school grounds and their responsibility to address such events. Specifically, the legislation would require an SRO to complete 40 hours of training that has been approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy within their first year on the job.

House Bill 318 not only creates necessary standards, but it encourages schools to utilize school resource officers. Their role will be clearly outlined, and districts will have more confidence in the ability for a hired SRO to manage emergency scenarios on school grounds. The bill also requires the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to conduct a study of SRO services and security upgrades in existing school district-operated buildings and to submit a copy of the study to the Governor and General Assembly by February 1, 2019, to ensure their roles are being fulfilled. The results of this study may potentially spur additional legislation as to how to better fortify our school buildings.

Another bill currently in the committee process is House Bill 526, which would allow current or retired law enforcement officers to act as volunteer patrols in our schools to help deter a mass casualty event. There would be no cost to school districts that participate in the program. Each individual must go through a screening process and be firearm certified. Once approved, the names of the volunteers would be distributed to local school districts for the purpose of scheduling. Under the bill, the officers who volunteer in the program would be eligible for a tax credit in return for their professional services and time given.

At the end of the day, we all want our children to be able to learn in a safe environment free of distractions. The Ohio House has put forward reasonable solutions to better protect our school buildings and grounds, and I believe cities and towns across the state can get behind these measures. We must work together to offer more resources to our students in the event of sudden, unexpected emergencies.

POSTED: 05/26/18 at 7:16 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

The Van Wert City School Board believes its community should know the importance of potential wind farm revenue to the school district. Wind revenue would make a substantial difference to operating funds.

VWCS is the largest school district in Van Wert County, serving 2,100 preschool through 12th grade students. Approximately 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, based on family income. The district is one of the largest employers in the county, with more than 400 full and part-time employees. Three revenue sources make up over 90 percent of the operating budget: state school funding (55 percent), local taxpayer-generated school income tax and property taxes equal 35.8 percent. The school district has no control over increases or decreases in the state’s 55 percent state revenue. This funding stream is currently flatlined in the state biennial budget, and future state education budgets remain unpredictable.

The other main sources of revenue are voted levies for school district income tax and property tax. These are not easily influenced by the school district, as district tax payer approval is required for any increase of the school district’s income tax rate or operating funds. The school district doesn’t have the final decision affecting these revenue sources.

VWCS offers the best educational services possible, utilizing current funding. The district hasn’t gone to the voters for additional operating revenue since 2003, as inflationary impact on goods and services has been addressed without going on the ballot.

Why is wind revenue important to VWCS? It would generate additional revenue without increasing taxes for voters. Wind revenue could be a very significant revenue stream, for more than 20 years.

Should wind farms develop further, and depending on the number of turbines located in the VWCS district, VWCS could see up to $672,000 annually in wind revenue. One mil voted in the VWCS district collects $250,000 annually. The impact of wind revenue is clear. Added revenue means a reduced chance of increasing local school taxes.

Included in a proposed amendment changing turbine setbacksby Senator Rob McColley, about 700 voters in the VWCS district would make a decision affecting over 7,000 registered voters in our entire school district. An up or down decision would affect all stakeholders across VWCS.

A telltale sign of a thriving community is its schools. The number of children requiring additional and individualized assistance is growing. School quality is a factor in attracting new business and industry. As the county’s largest school system, VWCS must continue to offer high quality education as well as meet individual student needs.

School safety is foremost in the minds of educators — employment of even one school resource officer would be difficult in the current VWCS operating budget. There are four buildings which could be served by an SRO, making the effectiveness of employing one SRO questionable. When budgets are tight, should safety needs come before basic instructional needs for all students?

Wind revenue is important to VWCS because it would allow the district to continue to meet prudent student and facility needs for a longer period, without going to the voters.

–Van Wert City Board of Education

POSTED: 05/03/18 at 6:57 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

The Van Wert County commissioners and other local government officials talk a lot about economic development. Unfortunately, that’s apparently all it is: talk.

During a recent candidates’ night hosted by the Heart Land Patriots, Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger commended development director Stacy Adam for her work on economic development, noting: “Stacy is sharp, she is aggressive, and anything she can get her hands on to locate and come to Van Wert County, short of bringing nuclear waste here, anything is fair game and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Apparently that statement should be amended to “nuclear waste and wind turbines”.

In an opinion piece signed by all three county commissioners, our top county officials basically say they’re not interested in pursuing wind energy projects, although you have to read between the lines to understand that.

Mostly, the piece is a litany of sentimental claptrap about “the rural life we have grown to love [being] entirely destroyed” and sly untruths, such as a fear of diminishing property values, to justify county commissioners’ opinion that a project that brings millions of dollars to local schools, property owners, and the county itself isn’t all that great.

The commissioners talk about property values diminishing, but local realtor Chet Straley recently testified before the Ohio General Assembly that land values have not been hurt by the existing Blue Creek Wind Farm, and, if anything, have actually increased.

Maybe the commissioners just don’t understand that economic development, simply put, is just two things: jobs and money. In this case, wind projects are perfect for the county, since they don’t create all that many jobs, and Van Wert County needs money a lot more than it needs jobs right now.

Certainly, local business leaders such as Central Insurance President Bill Purmort, hospital President/CEO Jim Pope, and National Door & Trim owner Tom Turnwald understand the value of wind energy to Van Wert County. All three, as well as three other business leaders — Kim Braun of Braun Industries, and Greg Cooper and Mark Hiegel of Cooper Farms — signed a letter supporting wind energy development.

The business leaders, as well as county school superintendents, also spoke eloquently about the economic benefits of wind energy to the county, noting the Blue Creek Wind Farm already provides more than $2 million to schools and a number of county agencies, while the proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm project would pretty much double those benefits.

In fact, the Blue Creek project is the largest taxpayer in the county. Think of that; more than Eaton, more than Central Insurance, more than Federal-Mogul or the hospital. If that isn’t economic development, I’d like to know what is.

While not one of the three commissioners said a word against wind energy while meeting with business and school leaders, Mr. Lichtensteiger pooh-poohed wind energy’s financial benefits during the recent candidate event, noting that just “throwing money” at local problems, such as the county’s drug abuse epidemic, won’t solve them.

Of course that’s true, but it’s also true that solving those problems will cost money. Probably lots of it. And where is that money going to come from? Obviously not from wind energy, if the current county commissioners have anything to do with it.

The real problem here is that the kind of economic development issues cities have been dealing with forever are now coming to rural areas. Unfortunately, the commissioners, all of them rural residents, are apparently siding with rural residents who do not want that development, even knowing the entire county stands to benefit greatly from wind energy. That, to me, is irresponsible.

What county officials don’t seem to realize is that someone is nearly always negatively affected by economic development. They also don’t apparently realize that they were elected to make the tough decisions and do what is best for the MAJORITY of their constituents, not a vocal minority.

The Long Prairie Wind Farm project is a prime example. Even if ALL the people in the proposed wind farm footprint were against the project — which is obviously not the case, since a number of those residents have wind turbine agreements with Apex Clean Energy — the total number of people involved is probably no more than 15 percent of the county’s total population.

How does the other 85 percent, including those people in the Van Wert City School District that stands to benefit substantially from the project, feel? It’s doubtful that anyone has bothered to ask them.

I understand the argument that “I built a home for $250,000 in the country to enjoy the stillness and scenery.” I have a house in the city and every year my allergies begin kicking up when farmers put herbicides and other chemicals on their fields. So can I vote on whether to have agriculture in the county? Of course not. I would likely vote for it anyway, since I realize that agribusiness revenues are an economic development necessity.

The $250,000 house argument also avoids the fact that a mega-hog or mega-dairy farm could locate next to that house despite opposition — and certainly without a vote. I, for one, would prefer the wind turbine.

The commissioners say they like a proposed amendment by State Senator Rob McColley that wants to give those living in a proposed wind farm footprint the chance to vote it down. Of course they do: it keeps them from having to make the tough choice between disappointing the relatively few (but loud) county residents who complain about wind turbines (and their rural buddies who don’t like turbines cluttering up their bucolic scenery) or okaying a project that would bring millions of dollars to county schools and other entities.

First of all, voting on a wind farm project is ludicrous. We don’t vote on bringing a new plant or company into Van Wert County, do we? Secondly, if such a ridiculous measure would be adopted by the Ohio General Assembly, it should include everyone who stands to lose or gain on a wind farm project. As it stands, the McColley amendment is just an attempt to disenfranchise the majority of county residents who would benefit from more money for their schools, library, and many other worthwhile agencies, and the commissioners, if they supported wind energy, should be actively opposing it.

As it now stands, wind energy is the best economic development deal Van Wert County has going for it. In fact, it’s about the only economic development option we have right now. Moreover, wind farm projects cost the county virtually nothing and provide millions of dollars for a guaranteed 30 years.

Mr. Purmort made the remark during his meeting with the commissioners that, if a traditional company was willing to invest a quarter of a billion dollars in the community (like Apex is willing to do), people would be falling all over themselves to welcome it. I’m not so sure. What if those living next to the plant site complain? Do we then allow them to vote on whether it comes in?

To be clear, this is not a wind energy issue. It is an economic development issue, and the issue for me is simple: Can local government officials, those in the county — and even those in the city — find the guts to make difficult decisions on economic development in Van Wert County? So far, the answer would seem to be no.

–Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent editor

POSTED: 04/17/18 at 10:57 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

A few weeks ago, a group of business leaders and educators came to us to express their support for wind energy in Van Wert County. They extolled the financial benefits to the schools, businesses, and government offices that the current wind farm has brought and that subsequent wind projects would bring. We greatly appreciated that they made time in their schedules to meet with us and express their concerns.

Over the past few years, we have also heard from citizens very much against new wind energy development. It is true that the schools, government offices, and some landowners and local businesses stand to gain substantially in increased revenues from future wind projects. But that is only part of the picture we have to consider.

Many people in the rural areas where these farms will be placed believe their property values will be greatly diminished should their homes be suddenly located in a semi-industrial area. Many also believe that electricity rates will rise substantially – since the current power grid needs maintained alongside the wind farms for when the wind doesn’t blow, the maintenance costs could outweigh the benefit of free fuel from the wind.

Then there are these simple arguments “I built a home for $250,000 in the country to enjoy the stillness and scenery and the entire value of that is taken away if I’m suddenly in the middle of a wind farm.” Or: “My family has lived here for generations and now the rural life we have grown to love is entirely destroyed.” No one who lives or has grown up in a rural area would dismiss these concerns as insignificant or trifling.

It has been stated that we are the only group of county commissioners who aren’t fully on board with supporting wind energy regardless of these concerns and that is not true. There has been conflict in Champaign, Seneca, Hardin, and Logan counties regarding wind farms and some, including our neighbors in Auglaize and Mercer counties, made it impossible for the initial wind farm development by never establishing and Alternative Energy Zone (AEZ) — a plain invitation to go elsewhere.

We rescinded the AEZ in Van Wert County after several conferences with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), constituents and consultants because it took away our ability to negotiate with wind companies for a better deal for the county. When the current wind farm was established, for example, the price of scrap metal was so high that the OPSB only required a decommissioning bond per windmill of $5,000. We now couldn’t take down a quarter of the current windmills for that if they stopped operating and with an AEZ, we would have had no control over any future decommissioning bonds. That is just one of many examples of where we stood to lose by not rescinding.

The elimination of the AEZ was three years ago. Since then, we have not been approached by any wind company with a proposal for a new project. In fact, the current hold-up for any new wind farms are the setback requirements established at the state level. We have been consistently in contact with our state representatives, Senator Rob McColley and Congressman Craig Riedel. They are currently working on new legislation to change setbacks to something more manageable for wind development in Senate Bill 238.

In this legislation, they are also creating mechanisms for there to be direct votes or referendums in the areas where the wind turbines will be located. Because this will give both sides an opportunity to fully present their case, we fully support the efforts of McColley and Riedel to give citizens a voice in this matter.

In the recent meeting referenced at the start of this column, it was stated that it is our job to act on this matter regardless of what our constituents think and that democracy should no longer be part of the decision considering the money involved. We believe the opposite is true. We believe we were elected to consider every side of the argument and try to find the best outcome for our county. That is what we have done and will continue to do with the wind issue and every other county issue.

–Van Wert County Commissioners Stan Owens, Thad Lichtensteiger, and Todd Wolfrum

POSTED: 04/14/18 at 7:37 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Let’s face it, Van Wert County like most rural communities in the United States, is no stranger to the opioid epidemic. Mental health, school safety, and workforce development are also at the forefront of small communities across the nation.

By Vicki Profit, Republican candidate for county commissioner

In a time where Van Wert is losing population and our median age is climbing, what realistic sustainable solution do we have to pay for new initiatives or help to ensure existing services remain operational? Combating drug epidemics, providing first class rehabilitation services, and making sure each school in our county has the ability to permanently hire a full time school resource officer are all examples of things that could benefit from additional funds through new renewable energy projects.

We have nearly 11,000 residents in the Van Wert city limits that have spoken loud and clear that a tax increase of any kind is not wanted. To ignore additional opportunities in wind energy as a sustainable solution to looming tax increases would be a shame.

Understanding just how large the impact wind has had, and will continue to have, in the county has unfortunately gone by the wayside. Current leadership has not supported or worked together with our elected officials in Columbus to encourage necessary legislation designed to address the current setback rule stalling construction statewide.

A potential billion-dollar investment in our community sits ready awaiting Ohio Senate Bill 238. Residents who support renewable energy have expressed to me their concerns with the downturn in support locally for future renewable energy projects and the many benefits they bring to rural communities.

This new project has the potential to increase the Van Wert tax base by over $5 million annually, adding nearly half a million dollars each year to the county general fund. I will support the best decision for our entire county. Not having to raise our taxes is my commitment to you.

POSTED: 04/05/18 at 6:23 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Van Wert County can no longer continue to lose potential business due to inadequate airport facilities.

My campaign slogan is “Work Together — Grow Together.” We must work together as county and city to ensure the Van Wert County Airport provides a warm welcome to all air travelers, especially corporate air traffic.

Our current airport facilities are nearly 80 years old and severely outdated. The airport’s runways, taxiways, aircraft parking areas, and hangar facilities have long been inadequate in regards to accommodating modern corporate and private aircraft.

It is no secret that attracting and landing a tenant at the Van Wert megasite will be challenging. Competition from neighboring communities will always be stiff. An airport that can adequately accommodate the needs of prospective business will give us a real competitive advantage.

Standing out in the crowd is critical. Rejuvenating our airport and carefully considering other major projects around the county will go hand in hand in helping gain and sustain economic growth.

I personally encourage business owners and residents alike to attend a monthly Van Wert County Regional Airport Authority meeting and ask the same question I did when I attended: “What can I do to help?”

Great first impressions are critical. A bad first impression of Van Wert County seen through the eyes of a visitor at our airport could be impossible to reverse and detrimental to our economic future.

–By Vicki Profit, Republican candidate for VW County Commissioner

POSTED: 03/17/18 at 2:58 pm. FILED UNDER: Opinions

We learned a lot in 2017. We learned that it isn’t just the media that is in cahoots with the Democrats, it is also the upper echelons of the intelligence agencies. We learned that a special prosecutor can be appointed without an actual crime being alleged. And we learned that freedom of speech for conservatives has become as verboten on college campuses as agenda-free history instruction.

But most importantly, we learned beyond a doubt that Republicans in Washington no longer aspire to limit government. In 2016, the last year of President Obama, federal spending totaled $3.54 trillion. Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and cuts could have been made, but the GOP hid behind a Democratic president.

By Todd Wolfrum

Outlays for 2017 were $3.98 trillion, an increase of $0.44 trillion. It is projected to increase again in 2018 to $4.09 trillion. None of this falls to President Trump, who did what he could to control spending by renegotiating federal contracts and not filling many federal jobs. But that is a drop in the bucket. The budget and spending are the responsibilities of Congress.

Don’t point at the Democrats, either. They never promised fiscal responsibility and no one expects it of them. Their goal has always been to grow government, and they have dropped any pretensions otherwise over the last several years. Although, it was entertaining last year to hear several of them suddenly become deficit hawks when tax cuts were proposed. No, the left is just the left, and the President is just the executive. The larceny against future generations is entirely the crime of congressional Republicans, the ones who promised to get spending under control if only they were given the power to do so.

The GOP brought no serious proposal for cuts in 2017. No memorable public debate. We are now supposed to accept that the downward spiral is unavoidable. Nothing can be changed, not in the face of ever-expanding entitlements. Even as we reach full employment and the problem is finding workers and not jobs, and as the biggest correlation with poverty is obesity, our hands are still tied by the shaming class, we are told.

American exceptionalism has always included the mandate to create a better world for the next generation. Our entitlement culture is creating a bleak future of insurmountable national and student debt. It is no wonder that over half of Millennials identify as socialists. Not liberals, mind you, socialists. Scary, but socialism is the last bastion of hopelessness, after all.

The financial collapse is inevitable at this rate. When it happens, money will lose its value. Those who will be hurt most will be retirees on a fixed income. Loans will be available only at astronomical rates. The impact will be felt at a local government level as well.

In Ohio this past year, the federal government cut sales tax paid to Managed Care Organizations. The cut in Van Wert County, my small county, was $300,000. The impact on Franklin County was $21 million. The federal government helped manage its own books by cutting local government funding across the state, leaving us to find ways to make up the difference. There will be more of this and the breakdown will begin locally.

The Trump tax cuts may or may not increase the deficit. Likely, they will be close to revenue neutral considering the growth induced by the corporate tax cuts. We are taking in record receipts — money coming in is not the problem. Laffer Curve considered, we are probably maxed out on what the federal government can confiscate from its citizens without prematurely inducing the collapse.

Republicans have controlled both chambers of Congress for three years and spending has increased each year. If they lose either of those chambers in 2018, it will not be because of any dissatisfaction with President Trump. It will be because they were elected to do a job that they didn’t even attempt – cutting government. Of course, Democrats would be destined to do much worse. It’s time to change our Republicans.

Editor’s note: Todd Wolfrum is a Van Wert County commissioner and a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. representative from the 5th Congressional District.

POSTED: 01/22/18 at 9:38 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

In 1914, the YMCA in Van Wert was founded for the benefit of young Christian men in the city and began a rich tradition of service to this community. That tradition continues more than 100 years later as the YMCA looks to the future and the needs of new generations of local families.

I am pleased the YMCA of Van Wert County Board of Directors made the decision to accept the debt free gift of Hickory Sticks Golf Club. It is a move for today and for the future, long-term sustainability of the Y in our area.

We thank Mark White and MSCS Real Estate, including Carol and Steve White of Hickory Sticks Golf Club for working with the Y to create a solution that allows the club to remain locally owned and operated. This will keep it affordable and accessible and all decisions will be made with the community in mind.

Our Y volunteers and staff leaders know there are challenges that accompany every decision. We will keep them in focus so we continue to accomplish our mission and remain relevant in addressing the county’s issues regarding youth development, healthy living and supporting our neighbors.

We invite you to become part of the Y. It’s our promise to strengthen the community. We do that through nurturing the potential of youth, improving our health and well-being, and caring for and supporting our neighbors. Core Y swim and gym programs still exist. But, we also assist families and children that may need financial aid to participate in family centered activities, youth sports and summer day camps.

Our mission is to enrich lives. As board members, we see firsthand how the Y is uniquely positioned to have a positive impact on people of all ages, incomes, abilities, and backgrounds. That makes the Y worthy of our support.

This recent decision is about much more than the game of golf: it’s about our commitment to Van Wert today and for generations to come. The Y is an anchor in this community. We want our children and grandchildren to participate in and benefit from the Y’s focus on character development, holistic health and giving back to the community through giving and volunteerism.

This is our Y. I invite you to get involved by joining, volunteering and donating to this worthy, charitable cause. Stop in and see us at 241 West Main Street or visit vwymca.org.

By Eric McCracken, owner of Lee Kinstle GM and a past president of the YMCA of Van Wert County Board of Directors. The opinions are the writer’s.

POSTED: 12/28/17 at 8:47 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Editor’s note: This is the last of three columns on economic development by Ohio Representative Craig Riedel.

With 27 years of experience in business combined with what I have already learned in my time as your state representative, I know just how important it is to have strong employers and capable workers. Not only does the growth of our economy depend upon it, but so does the wellbeing of families across the state. In my previous column in this series, I discussed challenges that still obstruct the development of our workforce, especially in northwestern Ohio.

Craig Riedel

In my first 11 months as a state representative, I have been hard at work on legislation that would eliminate these obstacles and set Ohio up to have a better business sector that benefits communities and workers. The first step towards those goals is to reform Ohio’s prevailing wage law, which is the required wage that must be paid to skilled trades employees working on public improvement construction projects. House Bill 163 would allow local government entities and state universities to opt out of the requirements under the prevailing wage law.

How exactly would this bill work? With this reform, decisions regarding wage on taxpayer funded projects are left to local governments, rather than mandated by the state. By making prevailing wage permissive, the bid process on projects would be more competitive, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars and allowing the free market to play out. Further, House Bill 163 will allow local government entities to more efficiently use limited taxpayer funds to pay for public improvement projects, getting more accomplished with the same amount of money.

I’ve also been working on a bill that encourages the growth of home brewing, an industry that is booming in Ohio with the recent explosion of craft brewing. The legislation would allow a home brewing organization to attend events without a permit, giving them the opportunity to showcase homemade beer, wine, and cider without restrictions. With over 43,000 homebrewers across the country, this bill opens up this market in Ohio, making the state more attractive for this industry and ultimately supporting small businesses.

Both of these bills have a similar goal-make Ohio more business-friendly. With freer markets, less limitations, and local control, our businesses can develop and expand. Ohio can grow to have a diversified business culture, resulting in more jobs and more companies making the decision to invest in our state.

POSTED: 11/11/17 at 10:00 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Editor’s note: This is the second of three columns on economic development by Ohio Representative Craig Riedel.

In my last column, I discussed the importance of workforce and business development in Ohio, especially in the 82nd House District. A lot of progress has been made-both through a key partnership with JobsOhio and business-friendly policies and tax reforms. Despite these steps forward, there are still a number of challenges our state faces in filling jobs and boosting our business environment.

Craig Riedel

Perhaps the most pressing concern is the opioid epidemic that continues to ravage our communities. Not only does it tear apart families and take lives, but it also leaves a workforce scrambling to find employees that can pass a drug test and show up consistently for work. For many in-demand fields like manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and other labor-intensive positions, the opioid crisis threatens workplace safety, which can have devastating effects on business growth.

On top of this issue, many employers struggle to find skilled workers for the jobs that are currently available. With a boon in technological advancements, companies need employees with experience in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, but enough people just aren’t available. In addition to work done at the state level to better connect educational opportunities to the business community, many companies have taken steps to create their own training programs.

Ohio must also compete with other states within the region, particularly the five states which it borders. This has a significant impact on the 82nd House District, as three of its counties directly border Indiana. Certain differences in tax policy or other initiatives from state-to-state can have a major effect on local businesses, as it is just as convenient to make big purchases in Indiana-which does not collect a local sales tax-as it is in Ohio.

In the past several years, the legislature has made many positive changes to combat these obstacles facing our workforce and the growth of our businesses. It is clear that more must be done, and I’ve taken on the challenge to research workforce development and encourage policies that get our communities back to work in fulfilling careers. In my final column of this series, I’ll be discussing the legislation I’ve been working on to strengthen Ohio’s employers and employees.

–State Representative Craig Riedel

POSTED: 11/01/17 at 6:40 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions

Kay-toons

POSTED: 07/14/18 at 7:08 pm. FILED UNDER: Kay-toons

Letters

To the Editor:

The Peony Festival Board would like to express our gratitude and thanks to Van Wert and the surrounding communities for your support.

I would like to start out by thanking our very generous sponsors. Without you all we, would not be able to do what we do.

Grand Jubilee Sponsors — Van Wert County Foundation, Central Mutual Insurance; Jubilee Sponsors — Bill and Kim Purmort, Marsh Foundation; Wassenberg Sponsors — Straley Realty, Cooper Farms, Eaton Corporation, Greif Brothers Inc., Young’s Trash Service, Cowan & Sons Funeral Home, Alexander & Bebout, Laurie’s Naturescape, Kitchen’s Incorporated, Triple R Farms; Lincoln Sponsors — Raabe Ford Lincoln Mercury, Van Wert Federal Savings Bank, Keister Baker Law Office, K&L Ready Mix, Elks Lodge, American Legion, Bee Gee Realty, Statewide Ford, Lucy Muntzinger, Eric Burk – EBS Pro Audio, Studio Ayla, Wood Creations, Rick Sealscott CPA, Melfour LLC, Superior Collision, Greve’s, Dr. John Eversman, F & S Floorcovering, Rhoades Insurance, Shine Auto Detailing, Gattshall Excavating, Van Wert Pallets, Rauch Law Office, Van Wert Propane, A & A Mechanical, Advanced Auto Parts, Seldom Siesta Farms, Distinct Curbing & Concrete, Crescent Laundry, Haviland Drainage Products, Thatcher Insurance, Lassus Brothers Oil, Cushman Club, Kennedy Manufacturing; In Kind Sponsors — Burcham Printing
Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home, Brookside, Straight Line, Thrivent Financial, First Federal Savings and Loan, Leland Smith Insurance, Van Wert Bedrooms, Carcione Law Office, Collins Fine Foods
Harold Debolt, Kim Hohman’s Dance Works, Van Wert HS Television Production, Fettig’s Flowers, Studio Ayla, Van Wert Carts and More, Touches of Time Antiques, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, Van Wert High School Television Production, The Van Wert Independent, Van Wert Times Bulletin, Van Wert Optimist Club, Van Wert Rotary Club, Van Wert Service Club, Willow Bend Country Club, Once I Was-Dennis and Vic Schulte, Maurices, Scarves by Marilyn, Bobbie Jo Yocum, Sophisticut, Subway, Sycamore Ice Cream, Bait Shore and More, the Legion Riders, and McCoy’s Flowers.

Chair-ity Auction Sponsors — David Ray, the Karcher family, Denae Bishop, Jill Welch and Heather Matthews, Jolanda Pohlman, Sabrina Niagu, and Dennis and Vickie Schulte
In addition to sponsors, a festival needs many other types of support.

With that being said, I want to thank Jay Fleming and the Van Wert City Police Department, the Street Department, the Water Department, and the Parks Department. You all made our efforts to bring the festival to the public so much easier.
Thank you to the Van Wert Sheriff’s Office for supplying us with security for the Art & Vendor event and the Peony Patio. It’s a pleasure to work with you.

Many other organizations helped us promote and gave us the ability to grow the festival to the next level this year. Thanks goes out to the Van Wert County Foundation, The Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, The Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Times-Bulletin, The Van Wert Independent, The Photo Star, Trinity United Methodist Church, The Church of God, Federal-Mogul, the YWCA and YMCA, and Purmort Brothers Insurance.

Thanks to the groups who performed at the band shell on Saturday. These include Kim Hohman DanceWorks, Van Wert cheerleaders, and the Van Wert Ballroom Dance Club.

The Young Talent Showcase performers proved that our community is overflowing with talent. They included Tyler White, Michaela and Drew Johnson, Griffen Waltmire, and Aubrey Gebert. Thank you for coming to be part of the festival.
We also want to thank Dan Baisden and the Main Street Van Wert board for joining in the fun.

In addition to this kind of support, any festival needs volunteers to help out their board and committees. Many thanks go out to all of you. Our volunteer list includes the Jennings Road Church of Christ Youth Group and leaders Lisa Eichler, Tina and Ron Waltmire, Carla Custis, Cheryl Burdge, Marie Bennett, and all of our family members.
I would like to add a personal thank you to my board members. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for joining me on this year’s journey.

Sincerely,
Vickie Schulte
President
Peony Festival Board

POSTED: 06/14/18 at 5:56 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

In honor of National EMS Week, I would like to express my admiration, deep respect, and ultimate “thank you” to our dedicated, caring Van Wert County EMS personnel, both paid and volunteers.

Emergency medical technicians provide a necessary service that is vital for all of us in our community.  They don’t often get the thanks and praise they deserve so I’m taking this opportunity National EMS Week to express my thanks and praise to them.

We in Van Wert County are so fortunate to have such dedicated public servants that are committed to serving our community. We count on them to respond 24/7/365 to the 9-1-1 call be it the auto accident, hurt child, house fire, seizure, heart attack, drug overdose, unresponsive person etc. etc.

9-1-1 dispatches EMS multiple times daily to so many varied situations, in all types of weather situations be it 90 degrees or minus-3 degrees while they work on patients along the road or in other uncomfortable situations. We at 9-1-1 never worry that they won’t answer our call. We know we can count on them/ EMS 24/7/365 to respond to the emergency as fast and safely as possible.

Their dedication to training, testing, the time commitment it takes, sometimes risking their own safety to serve as an EMT/Intermediate/ Paramedic as well as their willingness to give up (warm meals, family time, holidays) whatever they are doing at the time 9-1-1 dispatches them to the scene to care for the ill or injured person has earned them as I said before my total respect, admiration and my biggest Thank You!

Volunteers are always welcome and needed. Call your local EMS Chief for more information.

Emergency personnel are the healthcare safety net for all of us, we count on them and they respond. They deserve our thanks and praise this week and always. We at 9-1-1 appreciate their hard work and dedication and value all they do in service to public. Thank you all EMS! Sincerely, Kim Brandt Van Wert County 9-1-1 Operations

Kim Brandt

VW County 9-1-1 coordinator

via email

POSTED: 05/23/18 at 10:00 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I would like to send a sincere “thank you” to my committee and everyone who supported me throughout my campaign. Especially my husband and my kids: they were my rock!

It meant the world to me knowing there were people willing to step up and stand by my side despite the opposition resisting change. Those that know me know the truth and know the type of people my family and I really are, and for that I am forever grateful.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several great people and making new friendships along the way and that alone is a win in my book!

Vicki Profit

County commissioner’s candidate

via email

POSTED: 05/17/18 at 9:23 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I would like to sincerely thank the following people and businesses for their part in making this year’s Van Wert High School prom, “Hollywood Nights”, a success.

Thank you to Rural King and Spoor Contracting and for their generosity and assistance this year. I would also like to thank Nathan Bidlack for his help with some very special construction projects for the prom. As always, I truly appreciate the help of the Van Wert Police Department, who help us maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for our students. Special thanks also to the Van Wert Middle School Physical Education Department for its flexibility, along with the Van Wert High School Theater Department, TV Production Department, Tech Department, and maintenance and custodial staff for always being so willing and available to help.

Thank you also to the sophomore prom servers, chaperones, and, of course, the Class of 2019 for its hard work and dedication to making this fun prom theme come to life.  I also deeply appreciate all of the parents who helped in the kitchen and with valet parking on Friday afternoon and Saturday night. This event simply could not happen without all of you.

Special thanks to the Van Wert Optimist Club for providing a fantastic after-prom for the students of Van Wert County at Olympic Lanes bowling alley. Also, a big thank you to Mr. Bob Priest, Mr. Todd Keller, Mr. Manuel Alvarado, Mr. Tim Parker, and Mr. Brad Scheidt, and the members of the sophomore class who came in on Sunday afternoon to assist with clean-up.
Thank you all for another great prom season!

Sincerely,

Brenda Smith

VWHS Junior Class advisor

via email

POSTED: 05/17/18 at 9:22 pm. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I recently had the opportunity to attend the candidate forum sponsored by the local Heart Land Patriots. I’m thankful they take the time to organize and sponsor these events so we can gain deeper insight in to the thoughts of the candidates and their plans.

In a recent op-ed piece published in The Van Wert Independent (“Another year of gov. expansion”, 1/22/18), Commissioner Wolfrum pointed out “… the federal government cut sales tax paid to managed care organizations. The cut in Van Wert County, my small county, was $300,000.”

I asked Commissioner Lichtensteiger how Van Wert County planned to fill the gap created by this change, as well as other revenue challenges. The general theme was to “sharpen the pencil” and figure out how to reconfigure the budget.

Let’s take a look at how much we would need to “sharpen our pencils” in several scenarios. It’s a lot of numbers, but bear with me.

First, for 2018, the county will spend more on paper than it is taking in, with estimated General Fund income of about $8.5M and appropriations of about $10.3M, a negative balance of $1.8M. In fairness, the county does overbudget in expenses and departments tend to “give back” some of their allotted amounts bringing the income and expenses more in line with each other. Last year, the county finished with a $137,291 surplus to add to their “carryover” in the General Fund for a balance of about $2.3M.

That all looks good on paper until you start digging a little deeper. For example, the current years estimated revenue includes a one-time payment from the state of $375,000 to make up for the $300,000 loss in Managed Care sales tax losses Wolfrum mentioned. Remove that one- time money and the paper deficit for this year grows to $2.2M. The wildcard in this is no one knows what the state will do next year with regard to that money. Even if revenue and expenses fell in line with last year’s numbers, the loss of that $375,000 would still leave the county with a $237,000 deficit for the year, reducing the carryover funds to $1.9M.

As with all things we experience in a household, expenses increase while income is flat or decreasing. On top of that, the government takes away and rarely gives back.

So, what has PILOT money done for the County General Fund in the four previous years we’ve received it (we’re currently collecting year 5)? It’s added $1.2M to the General Fund balance. Take that away and that $2.3M carryover balance we had coming in to 2018 would have been about $1.1M. Carry that over in to 2018 with the budget on paper and a $1.1M carryover minus a now $2.5M in extra spending not only eliminates the carryover, it puts the County “carryover” almost $1.4M in the debt. That’s a lot of pencil sharpening if, as it’s been said, “we don’t need the wind farm money, we have a healthy carryover.”

The long and the short of it is this: Had it not been for the wind farm income to the county and the one-time “gift” of $375,000 from the state to make up for what they took away, we’d be overdrawn on paper. Even if give-backs from the county departments pan out, we’re only up $826,000. At that rate, 2019 would be pretty bleak, given the rate of spending and if the state doesn’t gift the county more money.

Had prior commissioners not had the foresight to approve an Alternative Energy Zone, it would take even less time to burn through the “savings account” to fill the gap.

And that is just one income loss. What lies around the corner? We can’t
“sharpen our pencil” out of those losses. We need to develop and leverage many and diverse income sources. While it’s great to hope the megasite bears fruit, pinning hopes on a once-in-a-generation development at the expense of opportunities in front of us today is foolish.

Blue Creek Wind Farm provides a steady source of income to sevices used by all Van Wert County residents, including schools, townships, parks, the county General Fund, senior citizens, mental health and development disability agencies, the county Extension office, and the library.

The proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm deserves consideration for all parties who will benefit from it and it deserves leadership to broker those discussions, something that has been lacking for a number of years. Not only would it expand income for all the above listed recipients (essentially everyone in Van Wert County in one form or another), it would bring in the one organization that doesn’t receive any of the PILOT money: Van Wert City Schools. Why don’t they receive any PILOT money today? Simply put, none of the existing turbines sit in their district. The PILOT is distributed like a tax to those who have taxation associated with where the turbine sits. From new development, a number of the new ones would fall in their district.

As we go in to the primary election, consider this: Would you manage your household finances this way? And would you turn away the “bird in hand” vs. the “two in the bush” of the megasite? Van Wert County needs to diversify its income so it can move on to the next economic development project and continue searching for tenants for the megasite, both of which require active, engaged leadership. It also needs additional income to fight the problems in the community such as the opioid epidemic, which has devastated so many families around us.

Want to see the numbers for yourself? Go to http://bit.ly/2JLGhzy

Eric Germann

Van Wert

via email

POSTED: 05/07/18 at 8:06 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

The Van Wert County Master Gardener volunteers wish to express their most sincere thanks to everyone who participated in getting the Smiley Park Children’s Garden ready to go this spring. Garden beds have been edged and cleaned up, a renovation of the “Healthy Me” garden was performed and approximately 48 yards of mulch was spread. This project would be impossible without the support of the community and we are truly grateful.

On Thursday, April 5, the sixth grade Cougar Leaders from Van Wert Middle School removed the old and rotting raised beds and started the process of installing new trough-style beds. These kids jumped right in to the project and really enjoyed using tools and getting dirty! Special thanks to Sarah White, school counselor, for bringing these great kids to the garden.

On Thursday, April 19, 35 members of the Vantage Ambassadors from Vantage Career Center also helped install new raised beds and got the mulching started. We cannot say enough about these wonderful young people. They worked very hard and had a great time doing it. Without them, the raised bed project would not have been completed!

Clean-Up and Mulching Day was held Saturday, April 21,after being postponed from the previous Saturday due to weather. The event brought almost 50 volunteers ranging in age from 6 to 95 years old to the Children’s Garden. Each volunteer received a “Buckeye Volunteer” t-shirt provided by The Ohio State University for being involved with the event.

Special thanks to Van Wert High School Student Nick Fitzsimmons, Van Wert City School teachers Nate Hoverman, Matt Krites, and Judy Krites, the First United Methodist Church Youth Group, Kimberly Laudick of the YWCA, the Bowens, Anne Dunn of Van Wert County Hospital, Laurie Purmort, and the many other community members who joined us.

The Master Gardener volunteers would also like to thank Kevin Longstreth and Jeremy Moorefield from the Van Wert Parks Department for debris and trash removal and for their many years of support, and to Aaron Baker for edging the garden’s beds.

We would also like to thank Brewed Expressions for the coffee donation, Chief, Sav-A-Lot, Ruler Foods, and Walmart for doughnuts, Van Wert Manor for bottled water, and Wild Willy’s and Pizza Hut for providing pizzas for lunch.

The Smiley Park Children’s Garden is maintained in full by generous volunteers and donors for the betterment of the community and to provide education to area youth about nature and gardening.

If you missed the Mulching and Clean-Up Day but want to help out, please join the Master Gardener volunteers at the Children’s Garden on Thursdays at 10 a.m. beginning in mid-May. All are welcome.

Sincerely,

Rachel Hoverman

program coordinator,

Van Wert County Master Gardener volunteers

via email

POSTED: 04/24/18 at 6:52 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Owens and Adams families we say “thank you” to all the folks that have helped Terry and me these last nine months. We thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we thank Him for you. Thank you for all the prayers, cards, monetary help, and many other expressions of love you have shown us. I have felt the power of your prayers, and they have helped me so much.

Thanks for all my friends and co-workers at Van Wert Family Physicians for keeping me in their prayers and turning their concern into action through all the awesome t-shirts and food. What an inspiration you have been to me. Special thanks to all of you for going above and beyond.

Please note the list of people thanked in The Times Bulletin on April 7. I want to thank all of those mentioned and many more. Karri Fife, The PLC Health Clinic, The Good Earth, Louie Smith, Angi Tomlinson, Beth, Susie, Gloria, Suzie B., my daily smile power buddy Eric McCracken, Marshall, Arnie, and Cindy, Robbin Farris, Diane Byrne, Beth Barker, Nancy Lautzenheiser, Doris Evans, Laura Fox, Nana Debbie, Uncle Bill, Karen Nostrant, Brett Thatcher, Leones family in honor of my good friend, Skipper, my church family at Trinity Friends, our parents, our kids, and their spouses, our grandkids, our siblings, and spouses, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and our nieces and nephews have also helped in ways that have made my fight easier.  So many nice gestures have made it impossible for me to type them all out.  I literally cannot begin to thank each and every one of you specifically, but my prayer is you are blessed beyond measure.

Sometimes words are just not enough to express the gratitude we feel for all the generosity shown to us on March 24. First, we want to thank our friends that organized the benefit for me including Amy King, Cami Delgado-Quirk, Sabrina Ricker, Linda and Jon Lewis, Andrea O’daffer, and Becky Fackler.  Their kindness and determination brought about a benefit that was so well organized that even with hundreds of people flowing in and out of the Middle Point Community Building, there was great food, games, music, and lots of community love being shared all afternoon and evening.

A special shout out to Kaitlyn Schmit and The Move with my cousin, Frankie Stemen, for providing some great live music. Thanks to all the love so many showed to us at the benefit.  We are so blessed and appreciative to our family, friends, and our community for the love and support. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world. There’s no place like home.

By the way, it was an honor to be the Lancer Lunch Lady.  God bless you all! “Nothing is impossible with God.”  Psalm 91.

Sincerely

Kim Owens

via email

POSTED: 04/24/18 at 6:50 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

What kind of people live in Van Wert County?

To answer this, we need look no further than the current wind farm controversy. New Ohio legislation wants to give the families most affected by the placement of wind farms a vote in the matter. This balances changing the setback laws allowing the wind corporations to site turbine setbacks across property lines onto unleased land without the owner’s permission.

The wind corporations have not leased enough land by about 20 percent. Obtaining leases costs money, so they have lobbied the government to give them free use of neighboring land. Once the turbines are built that land cannot be used for development. No homes or inhabited buildings can be built. The landowner gets no payment and frankly has nothing to say about the matter. Banks will not give mortgages on such property.  Structures cannot be properly insured. If the landowner is injured while in the setback he cannot sue the wind farm because he was in a restricted area, even though he was on his own land and never agreed to the setback.

At stake is $2 million a year in payments to the government. We are being told how the newly enriched government will spread benefits around the county, but none if it will be used to compensate the violated residents in the wind farm footprint. The schools will get more money to serve the remaining students who were not forced out by the wind farm. There will be no new residential construction in the affected area for decades.

So what kind of people live in Van Wert County?

Are we the kind who respect each other’s lives and property or are we the kind who are indifferent to the injury of a minority group in the name of bigger government?

WC Morris

Venedocia

via email

POSTED: 04/23/18 at 7:24 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: Mr. Kitson invited me to refute any part of his letter I could, so I have added my comments in italics under each paragraph of his letter, to make it simpler and easy to read.

To the editor:

In your article you said that people who want to live in the rural community in peace and quiet is “sentimental claptrap”.  Would you approve if I brought a huge subwoofer and a bright strobe light and blasted both into your house hours on end while you try to live peacefully?  Would you call the police and ask them to remove the issue? Now imagine me doing that day in and day out and all through the night. That is what you insist on bringing to me and my family.

That’s not what I said. I said a statement the commissioners made in their op-ed piece, and I quote: “My family has lived here for generations and now the rural life we have grown to love is entirely destroyed” was sentimental claptrap. It’s probably exactly what older farmers who were still using horses to plow said when loud and smelly, polluting tractors and combines were purchased by their more technically-astute neighbors. The idea that our rural life would be destroyed by wind turbines, any more than by the invention of tractors and other technology, is hyperbolic, at best. As to the noise of the wind turbines, just about anybody who lives on Washington Street in Van Wert probably hears several times more noise from the traffic that goes by at all hours of the day.

Next, you cite property devaluation as some sort of hoax in industrial wind project footprints. Then you mention the testimony of local realtor Chet Straley as your source. If Chet Straley is right, then why don’t you and Chet advocate for a property value guarantee for everyone in the footprint?  Clearly if I am so wrong about property values then this shouldn’t be any type of issue with Apex. By the way, are land values and home values the same thing? If you want more property value information here are various links that prove depreciation (1, 2, 3, and 4.).  Wind cites the Lawrence Berkley Lab for their study and the slander Michael McCann, an independent property appraiser from Chicago.  The Berkley study can be refuted in multiple sources (1and 2).

I did not call property devaluation a hoax. What I did say is that, although the commissioners cite a fear of declining property values as something they should look at, local realtor Chet Straley testified that, at this point, property values are not declining. I really don’t care whether studies from somewhere else cite declining property values. That’s not relevant to local property values and they seem all right. Furthermore, the idea of guaranteeing property values is ludicrous. So many factors go into valuation of property that only a fool could, or would, do that. Another recession could decrease property values as it did in 2008, and could be totally unrelated to wind energy.

Of course, city leaders that you cite support wind energy. Where do they live? Why is it the city votes down all kinds of tax measures and levies? The rural community could benefit from a city pool for exercise couldn’t we? But we didn’t get to vote on that. The rural community could benefit from proper police and fire services when we are in town, but we didn’t get to vote on the city income tax issue that failed twice. The city school district people voted overwhelmingly to save the football stadium. And now a city leader hints at wind money helping with ballfields. So overwhelmingly the stadium is to be saved, but pay for it on the backs of the rural citizens. Would these city leaders allow a group of investors to buy up plots in their neighborhood and construct a large casino, off track betting, and nightclub? After all, it’s economic development and I assure you the investors would love to donate to the schools. Again, we know what they would say as soon as you bring something controversial to their neighborhood that would impact their quality of life.

First of all, at least two of those business people who signed the letter, Kim Braun and Mark Hiegel, actuall live outside Van Wert. Second, cities such as Van Wert have borne the brunt of economic development forever. If there was land available in Van Wert, we’d likely take on wind turbines as well, since the construction phase alone provides millions of dollars in revenue, and schools and other entities would also gain tremendously from having them. Many rural citizens, like yourself, a local teacher, benefit from city economic development and city residents’ taxes, as well as rural residents’ taxes. If everyone who lived in the rural areas had to find a job there, most of you would be out of work. The Crestview school district is looking at an athletic facility and classroom expansion, much of which could be funded by the more than $2 million the district gets annually from the Blue Creek Wind Farm and the Robert P. Mone Power Plant together. In fact, Crestview could pay for the renovation of Eggerss Stadium with a little more than two years’ revenue from those two sources alone. That’s the power of economic development!

Let’s talk about Blue Creek. It’s a $660 million project; $173 million of that was provided by the American taxpayer in the form of a 1603 construction reimbursement. Thankfully, that no longer exists. Now we just need to get rid of the PTC (production tax credit) that hurts the treasury equally. After all the nice gifts from us, they have the audacity to ask for PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). This is a straight rip off on the backs of our own community. You want to know how PILOT works? Essentially taxable property is assessed at 25 percent of the full value. That leaves $165 million in taxable capital. The pro-wind crowd will say that’s not how an entity like Blue Creek will work. Why not? Now apply the local township tax rate to that $165 million. On average that is around 6.5 percent or so in Van Wert County. So at that rate Blue Creek, without PILOT, would be paying the county entities between $10-11 million a year. They pay between $ 2.1-2.7 million. Great, an 80 percent tax break and the rural folks get unbearable noise, shadow flicker, infrasound, tile, and drainage issues, and home value depreciation. That tax break does depreciate over time because the value of the project depreciates. So over the life of the project we are talking around a 50 percent tax break on top of the other subsidies and tax incentives our government gives wind. Boy doesn’t that just sound great for us. It’s great if you are a landlord getting paid or a city resident that won’t live under it.

Yes, let’s talk about Blue Creek. The 25 percent assessment of the project is about the same as was done for the Mone Power Plant. However, the Mone peaking plant (which is likely less efficient than wind turbines), had a 95 percent property tax abatement the first 10 years, when it paid less than $300,000 in PILOT revenues annually for a facility valued at $85 million at the 25 percent mark. Now, the plant pays more than $1 million a year in taxes, which seems pretty similar to the wind farm, which pays about twice as much in PILOT revenue and is valued at about twice as much for tax purposes. As to the federal subsidies, that’s a federal legislative issue we can’t impact here. The good news is we’re getting that federal tax money back, as well as other peoples’ federal taxes paid to wind energy companies, because we have a wind farm.

Of course the citizens who stand to be directly and negatively impacted deserve a say. You want to site industrial electric generators in areas that are purely zoned agricultural/residential.  That is why they call it a wind “farm”. What an oxymoron. This isn’t agriculture plain and simple. When you live in the city limits, you willingly live next to areas that are zoned for industry. When you live in the rural community you willingly live next to areas zoned agriculturally. Nothing in the rural community is zoned industrial.

I disagree strongly with this argument. No local resident who is not a government official currently votes on economic development issues. City people don’t vote on whether to locate a plant here, and city residents don’t likely willingly live next to a plant or other business, which may or may not have been there when they purchased their house. Did the rural residents who live next to the Cooper Farms Cooked Meats plant vote on it being there? No, they did not, and while the odor from plant can be unpleasant, it is more than offset by the jobs and tax revenues the plant provides to the county. Also, Cooper Farms likely received a substantial tax abatement to locate the plant here. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), while technically agricultural, are, in my mind, quasi-industrial facilities that include a number of negatives for their neighbors, but those neighbors didn’t get to vote on whether they should be there or not.

Finally, nobody can answer this for me from the pro-wind crowd. One, name any type of zoning where an industrial structure is measured to the foundation of another person’s home. There isn’t any type of zoning like that where agricultural/residential zoning exists. Two, prove with independent, peer reviewed science, that 1,125 feet to a property line is safe even though the wind industry cries that it is restrictive. Here is a studythat proves that a 300-foot turbine can sling debris over 1,700 feet from a physicist.  Other recommendations based on safe setbacks can be found in many other places too (1, 2, and 3).  Would you or city leaders allow this unsafe setback to threaten your property or family? Finally, wind constantly discredits health effects that people complain about. Why are all these effects listed in their leasing agreements admitting they are true? When you sign the contract you have now agreed to be “gagged” into not speaking negatively about the turbines. What blatant hypocrisy. Independent studies show wind turbines do affect people’s health and you can read that in many places (1, 2, and 3).

The only thing I will say about setbacks is that Ohio, unlike a number of other states, has a fairly involved permitting process for all energy generation facilities, including wind turbines. State officials or those they contract with have looked at a variety of potential issues, such as noise, blade vibration, etc., before establishing the setbacks. Now politicians have decided those setbacks are too small. Are they more qualified than the OPSB to decide that?

Do these things sound like “sentimental claptrap” to you now? Since when did money and greed trump everything else in our community? Since wind deviously invaded six years ago, that’s when. This community is beyond repair. And now we have clear collusion and corruption to elect a candidate that has significant personal money to gain. And we trash the honest men who think the citizens should have a say on what affects them the rest of their lives. Choosing to live in a city or the rural community comes with different expectations, industrializing the rural community isn’t one of them.

Don’t for a minute believe that revenues just became important with the wind farms; that’s what economic development is all about. Clear collusion and corruption? Not sure what that refers to, but I know that the pro-wind candidate has already stated that, if voting for wind projects was a conflict of interest, she would abstain from voting on such issues. From what I know, it likely would not be an issue if she does not receive more in compensation than anyone else leasing land for a wind project.

Jeremy Kitson

Citizens for Clear Skies

Dave Mosier

Van Wert independent

POSTED: 04/20/18 at 7:41 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

There are a few in our city and county who think easy wind energy dollars are the answer to every problem facing our community. Others are taking a more cautious approach that those dollars may cost more than they are worth and may, over time, cause greater taxation and higher electrical costs.

More and more states, counties, and countries are realizing that the cost (health and safety, infrastructure, use of land, etc.) of wind energy is too great. They are opting for more stringent controls and greater setbacks as citizens and elected officials take a closer look at wind energy companies and the problems they bring.

Blade failure, ice throw, and fire are the main safety concerns. Last fall in Australia over 8,000 acres burnt from a turbine fire. Just over Easter weekend two were reported, one in Maine and one in Oklahoma. If you have ever experienced a fire in a wheat field, you know how destructive and dangerous they can be. It would be our first responders who would answer that call. If strong winds are blowing the event would be catastrophic.

Many doctors are noting health issues and sleep deprivation with those living near turbines due to noise, flicker, and lighting. Low level infrasound, those sounds below our hearing capacity, has also been cited as a health concern. Studies in Germany have proven that the infrasound linked to wind turbines can cause a decrease in the force of contraction in heart muscle up to 20 percent. In a person with a healthy heart it may not be a problem, but in someone with a weakened heart it could be fatal.

Being a life-long farmer, I cannot agree with the loss of farmland to these giant behemoths. They take up to two acres of land out of production and their construction can cause compaction and drainage issues for many years. Huge underground bases are needed for these giant turbines, which take 2,400,000 pounds of concrete and tons of rebar, which replaces good Van Wert County fertile soil!

Wind is not a reliable source of energy. Our electrical providers would have to keep their plants operating as it is too costly to restart them on a calm day; there is no savings of fossil fuels. They do not perform as well or have a long-term life as wind energy companies predict, per independent engineers. When they fail you will be faced with higher taxes to support those schools and higher electrical costs.

SB238 proposes to change setbacks measured from your habitation, not from a property line and make them even closer to your home. This is not acceptable. Ohio’s setbacks are the least restrictive and must be set at greater distances in heavily populated rural areas for health and safety reasons alone. All of these issues lower property values.

Germany and France both have one-mile setbacks while Holland sets theirs at 3,280 feet. Studies have shown that due to strobe and shadow flicker turbines should be from 3,300 to 5,000 feet from habitations. Science states that at least 1,700 feet should be set for safety from debris and ice throw.

I hope you believe as I do that it would not be Christian or ethical to allow wind energy companies to encroach on the land of your rural neighbors, take away their quality of life, perhaps even endanger their lives, and drop their property values for short-term dollars and cents!!

Jeannine Roediger

Van Wert

via email

POSTED: 04/13/18 at 5:28 am. FILED UNDER: Letters to the Editor