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A rainy Jubilee still a success, says chamber

The new look of this past weekend’s Bryan Jubilee was a success, according to Dan Yahraus, executive director of the Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event.

The new rides, the new convenience tent, the new ‘80s cover band, and even the fact that this year’s Jubilee was pared down to just three days instead of the five days it’s been in the past, were all changes that were well received, Yahraus said.

And excellent attendance on a sunny and mild Friday made it one of the Jubilee’s best single days in many years, he added.

The issue was the rain that limited the attendance on Thursday and Saturday. Steady rain meant fewer people on the new thrill rides and at the food vendors, reduced Saturday’s karaoke contest to just three entrants and wiped out the Saturday afternoon parade.

“When you have a three-day event here in Ohio, you know you’re probably going to have to deal with the rain at least one day. Unfortunately we had two days of rain out of three this year. So we know our attendance is going to be lower, and we expect our income will be down,” he said.

“But Friday topped most any other single day of the Jubilee, our convenience tent was well-received, the (‘80s cover) band was fantastic and our new look and the new rides were very successful. Having talked to members of our board, by all accounts, the Jubilee was a success, even though we had two days of rain out of the three days this year,” he said Monday.

Yahraus said due to the rain and for safety reasons, the Saturday afternoon parade was canceled and the Jubilee was closed Saturday night.

“It’s the first time we’ve had to close the Jubilee down in quite a few years. But it was all for safety — of the vendors, of the ride company and most of all, for the participants and the public,” he said.

Northwest Ohio has seen record-setting rainfall since March. The National Weather Services reports that through Monday, total rainfall in June in the Bryan area is 8.8 inches. The daily average is more than a half-inch and there’s been rainfall on seven out of the first 17 days in June so far. April and May were similarly wet.

Yahraus said managers for the Jubilee ride company, Indiana-based Durant Enterprises Inc., told him that since their “season” began in mid-March, “except for two Saturdays ago, they haven’t a dry Saturday since their season began.”

Masked gunman opens fire on Dallas courthouse, then dies

DALLAS (AP) — A masked gunman opened fire Monday on a federal courthouse in downtown Dallas before being fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with federal officers, witnesses and authorities said.

Brian Isaack Clyde, 22, was pronounced dead at a hospital following the shooting outside the Earle Cabell Federal Building. Authorities offered no hint of his motive, but FBI agent Matthew DeSarno said there was nothing to indicate the presence of any other shooters or threats to the city.

Clyde opened fire about 8:40 a.m., and law enforcement immediately responded, including three officers from the Federal Protective Service who were stationed at the building.

A bomb squad later examined a vehicle associated with the gunman as a precaution and performed controlled explosions, authorities said. Two loud blasts could be heard.

The Dallas Morning News reported that one of its photographers, Tom Fox, was outside the building and witnessed the shooter opening fire.

Fox said he was outside the building when a masked man parked at the corner of two downtown streets. He said the man ran and began shooting at the courthouse, cracking the glass of the door. The window panes in a revolving door were broken.

A photograph posted on the newspaper’s website showed authorities tending to a shirtless man lying on the ground in a parking lot outside the building.

Police closed off several blocks around the federal building.

Chad Cline, 46, who lives near the courthouse, told The Associated Press that a message was broadcast throughout his building shortly before 9 a.m. announcing that there was an active shooter in the area and that residents should stay inside.

Less than half an hour later, another message said there was a potential bomb threat and that residents needed to leave. He, his wife and their two dogs went to a coffee shop.

Bryan school board hears from parents of special needs children

A group of parents of special needs students came before the Bryan Board of Education Monday in order to affirm their commitment to working with the district to resolve budget issues surrounding the district’s growing number of special needs students, a trend seen nationwide.

The board informally agreed to work with parents, specifically the Special Needs Active Parents (SNAP) group, to explore potential solutions moving forward.

Both sides asserted that the students themselves are in no way the problem, and noted that was not the insinuation anyone intended in past discussions. The board also reaffirmed that cuts were not being explored.

The idea of a special needs booster club, as put forth by speaker Tiffany Carwile, received informal but enthusiastic support from new district Treasurer Kevin Schafer following the meeting.

“We’d like to tackle these issues and come together with the board, the district, and find ways to meet in the middle. If there’s an issue, we’d like to help address it and maybe put forth efforts to do fundraising for our community and our kids,” said Carwile, also highlighting her wish to also promote inclusion and acceptance.

“If there’s an issue with the budget, we want to help. We want what’s best for our kids and for them to have everything they need to thrive. We’re all together in this ... We want to ally with you.”

The board responded with willingness to collaborate.

“We appreciate you coming before the board and letting us know where you stand,” said Board President Cindra Keeler. “At this point in time, I don’t know how we can work together, but I’m sure there’s something that will work as we talk with the superintendent.”

Bryan and many other school districts nationwide can increasingly cite special needs costs as one of their fastest growing areas of expense, along with increased security costs in recent years, both vital to the functioning of school systems.

In February, Bryan City Schools Superintendent Diana Savage noted that the special education program’s total cost was $5.2 million for the 2017-18 school year. And although the district has seen a $150,000 increase in supplementary federal grants ($553,000 total) for special needs students, costs have gone up $1.5 million over the same five-year period.

Eighteen percent of BCS’s student population is enrolled in the special education program, compared to 13 percent of all students nationally, according to U.S. the Department of Education.

Costs of additional staffing mandated by the state that have been highlighted include one full-time staff member per 25 students, aides, social workers, bus supervision, plus special equipment and facilities, increases in hours, trips to and enrollment in special supervision programs and gifted programming.

Thirty years ago, the federal government agreed to pay a 40-percent share of funding for special education via the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, the federal government has yet to hit that mark, leaving local entities looking for ways to cover the cost.

New band director

The board also approved hire of new band director Stephanie DePauw.

DePauw is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University where she participated in the BGSU marching band, was a member of the undergraduate staff for the BGSU marching band and completed her student teaching experiences for grades six to 12 band.

“I am thrilled to be offered this opportunity and can’t wait to be a part of a very well-established program,” DePauw said in a prepared release. “I am humbled by the strong support for the arts within the school system and community. I look forward to carrying on Golden Bear traditions and providing students a wonderful musical experience.”

DePauw replaces longtime band director Richard Will, whose retirement was approved at the May board of education meeting.

“We are excited for Ms. DePauw to join our team and are very thankful to Mr. Richard Will for the establishment of a wonderful instrumental program that Ms. DePauw will take over,” said Mark Rairigh, Bryan director of secondary education, in a prepared statement.

In other action Monday, the board:

• Presented Vietnam-era military veteran William Burns with his high school diploma. Burns’ story will be detailed in Wednesday’s edition of The Bryan Times.

• Heard the general fund stands at $13,476,975, the permanent improvement fund at $1,597,197 with total funds on hand at $17,489,212.

• Approved hire of incoming treasurer/CFO Kevin Schafer as a consultant, effective July 8, and officially approved retirement of treasurer/CFO Rob Rosswurm.

• Approved donations including $480 to the high school golf program from Bryan Athletic Booster Club and $325 to the Butterfly Garden Project from John and Joy Betts, and paint to the ceramics classes from Carol Sharp.

• Heard the district’s tennis court project is awaiting city approval of site plans. The goal is for work to start yet this month and be completed by Labor Day, barring significant weather issues. Board member Thomas Lingvai indicated a desire to ensure that none of the trees in the court’s proposed area between the two school buildings were memorial trees and ensure their relocation, if they are.

• Approved a contract for speech services with Stryker Local Schools, to supplement Bryan’s two full-time employees.

• Approved one-year limited teaching contracts for Paige Gansmiller, third and fourth grade intervention specialist, and Garret Gleckler, middle and high school guidance counselor.

• Approved the resignation of Betsy Smith, co-weight room coordinator, effective May 30.

• Went into executive session to discuss employment related matters with no action expected upon returning to regular session.

Bryan council OKs money for water study

Bryan City Council approved a financial move related to a proposed study of the city’s groundwater heard a plea to increase pay for firefighters during Monday’s regular meeting.

Council approved a $50,000 appropriation for the water project, which involves development of a “test well network” to monitor water levels as well as water quality and delineate the 10-year travel zone of the water supply, or the underground paths the water travels on its way to the wells from which BMU draws.

BMU has estimated cost of the study at $29,000, to be paid from an existing BMU fund that was created for such projects.

Officials said this will help BMU better monitor its water supply for contaminants and plan ahead in case of a drop in water levels.

In response to a question from council member Judy Yahraus, BMU Director of Utilities Kevin Maynard told council that the project was not directly related to or in response to Pioneer-based company Artesian of Pioneer’s (AOP) plans to drill, pump and sell as many as 14 million gallons a day of Michindoh Aquifer to communities outside the aquifer area.

The city’s water supply is drawn from the aquifer, an underground layer of water-rich soil and rock.

In other action, the Bryan Fire Department volunteer firefighter Derek Allen urged council to consider increasing the pay rate for firefighters.

Allen said he compared firefighters’ pay to crew members on other departments, such as EMS, and said those employees are paid “significantly more” while firefighters are “very underpaid.”

His plea came after council approved the transfer of full-time firefighter Brett Miller to the city’s wastewater department, which came with a $1.54 per hour boost in pay. Miller will remain on the BFD staff as a volunteer.

Allen said that Miller’s decision was prompted by pay considerations and noted that firefighters, even volunteers like himself, are required to complete many hours of training.

Council agreed to take Allen’s suggestion under consideration. Mayor Carrie Schlade noted that the department’s staff is about twice the size it was only three years ago and pay has been somewhat curtailed due to budgetary reasons.

City leaders mentioned that the term “volunteer” is a technicality and the city’s firefighters are “paid on call” employees.

Allen is also a member of the Bryan Board of Public Affairs.

Council also approved the resignation of volunteer firefighter Jill Davis and the hiring of Kara R. Bok to the same position.

And to replace Miller as a full-time firefighter, council approved the department to give a civil service test to develop a list of qualified candidates.

Also Monday, council approved:

• The resignation of reserve police officer Michael Kirsch.

• The reappointment of City Planning and Zoning Director Andrew Waterston to the Williams Metropolitan Housing Authority, for a five-year term.

• A $15,000 donation from the Bryan Rotary Foundation to renovate the pavilions at Moore Park.

Tom Fox 

An armed shooter stands near the Earle Cabell Federal Building Monday, June 17, 2019, in downtown Dallas. The shooter was hit and injured in an exchange of gunfire with federal officers outside the courthouse. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES, MAGS OUT, TV OUT, INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY

No planting could result in ripple effect

Empty fields throughout Ohio and the Midwest could result in an economic ripple effect hurting more than just the farmers unable to plant crops.

Persistent rains this year have kept many farmers out of the field. In Ohio, only 50 percent of corn and 32 percent of soybeans had been planted as of June 9, levels half or less of the five-year averages.

Many farmers won’t be planting at all this year, especially in northwest Ohio, according to Ben Brown, manager of the Farm Management Program at Ohio State University. They will instead take what is called prevented planting, meaning they get a payment for the amount of acres they were unable to plant this year.

This will lead to negative effects for more than just the producers.

“We’re going to continue to see ripple effects,” Brown said. “It’s hard to put a quantitative amount to it because we don’t know how many acres that is, yet, and we won’t know until the middle of July.”

One area that will see an effect is the seed market.

Farmers have already purchased seed, as they fully intended to plant this year, and may have to accept the losses from that, unless they are able to return them.

“If there’s co-ops or seed dealers who are kind enough to accept those seeds back, that’s a benefit to the farmer, because they’re not carrying those cost,” Brown said. “But it is a negative to the company or the co-op or the seed dealer, whoever is selling that.”

Custom haulers who make their living from transporting grain will have less work with less grain planted, he said.

“We don’t really know (the details), we just know there are ripple effects,” Brown said. “We won’t know how much that affects the overall market until we get some acreage reports back in.”

Stephanie Karhoff, agriculture and natural resources educator for Williams County OSU Extension, said it’s a good reminder for consumers how much of an impact farmer production and success has on other areas of the economy, from truck drivers down to food processing facilities and animal feed.

“Two easy examples are you could see increased prices at the grocery store, both because of decreased acres and ... potentially a reduced yield,” she said. “That could be reflected in food prices but also could affect livestock. Depending on where prices go for feed, that always affects livestock farmers and kind of makes things bad or worse. There is a shortage for hay and forage right now for livestock growers.”

Brown added that there was likely going to be an increase in meat costs even without a large number of unplanted acres because of African swine fever moving throughout Asia and eastern Europe, which will take some supply off the market.

“We were going to see an increase in pork prices,” he said. “Because beef is a substitutable good, we’re going to see an increase in beef prices. I think that coupled with higher beef costs could exacerbate the factor. We’ll have to continue to watch for that.”

Brown said people probably won’t see an increase in vegetable prices from the decreased acres.

That’s because crops grown in Ohio are not used for human food.

“Most of our corn is used for ethanol or feed for cattle, soybeans again for feed and biodiesel and other things like bioplastics,” Brown said.