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Kaylyn Steffes gives her rabbit Snickerdoodle a few words of encouragement to get him through the judging process during Tuesday’s rabbit show at the Williams County Fair. JOSH EWERS/Staff

Portman: Firearm background check legislation must be bipartisan

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman has supported several bills expanding background checks on firearm sales as a way to reduce the number of mass shootings that have gripped the country.

But legislation on firearm background checks passed earlier this year by the Democratic majority in the U.S. House Of Representatives is dead on arrival, Portman said during a 25-minute conference call with Ohio reporters from Washington on Tuesday.

“The president says he’s going to veto it, so it’s not going anywhere,” said Portman of the House bill, which would extend the period federal authorities have to complete a background check before a gun sale can go through past the current three days.

“I’m not suggesting nothing’s gonna happen with background checks ... I do think it’s got to be something .... bipartisan,” said Portman, from the Cincinnati area.

In a related note, Portman singled out six Dayton police officers who on Monday received the nation’s highest decoration for law enforcement from President Donald Trump.

During a special ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Trump awarded the public safety officer Medal of Valor for extraordinary bravery to the six officers who ended a gunman’s deadly rampage in Dayton’s Oregon (Entertainment) District.

The award recipients are officers Sgt. William C. Knight, Vincent Carter, David Denlinger, Ryan Nabel, Brian Rolfes and Jeremy Campbell.

“These officers are true heroes,” Portman said.

Portman also reiterated support for Trump’s 2017 tax cut, saying, “it’s helped grow the economy, the economic numbers are still good, but (tariffs) have had a negative impact on our economy.” And, he added, “it’s time for reckoning with China on unfair trade practices.”

As for the ongoing U.S. budget deficit, which was $19 billion larger in February 2019 than in February 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Portman said it will garner attention in the current session of the 116th Congress.

“We have to get a handle on this. Seventy percent of our spending is (automatically renewed). We continue to spend much more every year ... but spending has to be reformed on a bipartisan basis, or nothing will happen,” he said.

While the Senate was out of session in August, Portman said he visited 39 counties and attended 75 events, logging 4,105 miles across Ohio, mostly in his pickup truck, but also “by train, plane, ferry, bike and even kayak,” he joked.

“I heard from a lot of folks (in Ohio) and I’m looking forward to the next (Congressional) session and getting things passed,” to benefit Ohioans, he said.

Portman did praise the announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $7.5 million Automatic Driving System (ADS) Demonstration grant to the Ohio Department of Transportation and its consortium, which includes the Transportation Research Center Inc., The Ohio State University and DriveOhio.

This consortium plans to develop a statewide demonstration plan to test and deploy ADS technology to better integrate rural, suburban and urban environments into the larger statewide transportation technology ecosystem.

“This is great news for Ohio and will help ensure that the state’s transportation technology ecosystem becomes a model for the country,” Portman said

Today, Portman will attend the Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy Legislative Hearing at 2:30 p.m., speaking in favor of his bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which will be considered by the subcommittee.

And later this week, Portman said he expects the Senate to resume consideration of Trump nominations for administration positions. It’s unclear if that will now include former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was fired Tuesday by the president.

9/11 observance to take place at Williams County Fair

On Sept. 11, 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda against the United States, using hijacked commercial airliners as missiles took the lives of 2,996 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were hit by two separate airliners, hijacked after they took off from Boston. The towers fell within hours. Another commercial airliner, which took off from Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth airliner, hijacked after it took off from Newark, New Jersey, was bound for the nation’s capitol but crashed into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to regain control of the aircraft from its hijackers.

The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people, chief among them first responders in New York City, died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

The attacks launched an American military response that has had the U.S. and coalition partner nations at war in Afghanistan (where the 9/11 attack was planned and coordinated) and Iran since Oct. 7, 2001.

As a consequence of the attacks, the U.S. has been in a state of national emergency since 2001.

According to the Department of Defense, 4,419 U.S. military personnel died during the Iraq war between September 2001 and August 2019. In Afghanistan, where U.S. and coalition troops are still engaged in battle, 2,219 U.S. military men and women have given their lives in a theater of war that has been the longest war the U.S. has ever been involved with.

At locations across the country, today, 9/11, observances of the attack on the United States in 2001 will take place. Some will mark the exact moments the airliners were driven into buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C., and the field in Somerset County.

In Williams County, an observance of the attack and memorial to the victims and those who paid the ultimate price in the Global War on Terror will be held today at the Williams County Fair. The ceremony is scheduled at 7 p.m. and will be held at the free stage area of the Williams County Fairgrounds.

Governor orders flags to half staff

In honor of the lives lost in the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered that flags of the United States and the State of Ohio be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout the state from sunrise to sunset today.

DeWine is also asking all Ohioans to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. today to honor the innocent Americans and others from around the world who died as a result of the attacks.

Flight 11, from Boston’s Logan International Airport, was the first plane to crash into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Center in New York, between floors 93 and 99, at 8:46:40 a.m. The aircraft entered the tower intact. The plane was carrying 81 passengers and 11 crew members bound for Los Angeles International Airport. Five hijackers were aboard.

Crews from throughout the region battle MetalX fire in Delta

DELTA — As of Tuesday afternoon, crews were still on the scene of a fire at a Delta business.

At a press conference broadcast via social media, Delta Fire Chief Scott Smith said the fire department was dispatched at approximately 6 p.m. Monday for a report of a possible fire in the feedstock at MetalX, LLC, located at 7300 Ohio 109, Delta.

“The pile is referred to as the feedstock that goes into MetalX that they shred and recycle,” Smith said, adding the initial response was multiple firetrucks and ladder trucks from four different communities. That response soon escalated.

“We were met with heavy fire,” Smith said. “We had heavy fire throughout the pile and started attacking the fire and trying to maintain a safe area.”

As of early Tuesday afternoon, Smith said 15-20 fire departments remained on scene with approximately 75 firefighters. At its strongest response, Smith said there more than 30 fire departments with more than 46 pieces of equipment and 146 firefighters.

“The fire is close to being under control, but it’s still an active fire in that metal pile,” Smith said.

According to a press release issued by Fulton County director of marketing and communications Toni Schindler, crews were maintaining a line and keeping the fire away from the buildings, and heavy machinery was being used to pull apart the piles of scrap and debris. Fire crews continue to work alongside MetalX company crews who are trained to use material handling equipment to help move or separate the material to minimize the effects of the fire.

One minor injury was reported to a firefighter, according to Smith, and they were treated. There were no injuries reported due to heat exhaustion, although with temperatures expected to rise Tuesday, Smith said they would be taking precautions of hydration and rotating crews out regularly.

Smith and MetalX General Manager John Brown said they are not aware of how the fire started, but Smith said it will be investigated with the assistance of the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office. However, Smith said it does not appear to be suspicious in nature.

“When you have metal, when you have possible flammables from recycling, the risk of fire in this kind of operation is always there,” Smith said. “Unfortunately in a pile that dense, once you get a fire in, it gets deep-seeded and it’s hard to put out.”

Brown said the fire developed in the northwest corner of the feedstock pile, which consists of cars and recycled appliances and furniture.

“Eighty percent is steel and other metals,” he said. “The other 20 percent consists of nonmetals that can be combustible and that’s what you saw mostly burning in the fire.”

Delta Village Administrator Brad Peebles and Delta Mayor Dan Miller both stated the village’s water supply was never comprised.

“From the onset of the incident early on, the village water system was the primary source of water for the attack on the fire,” Peebles said. “Around two hours in, our system did became taxed.”

Peebles said the village, in cooperation with the fire service, redirected the water efforts to tanker haulers to bring water to the scene. In addition, water was incorporated from the City of Wauseon through an established connection.

“At no time ... was our system comprised,” Peebles said. “We always maintained adequate pressure and adequate supply to our residents.

“I’m very fortunate that the fire department was very cooperative in their efforts to minimize the village system during the operations,” he added.

The village was under a boil advisory Monday evening until the water processes were stabilized. Village officials stated they would continue to provide testing for safe water quality. For any boil advisories issued, residents were advised to check the Village of Delta website, Village of Delta Facebook page and follow local media.

Multiple agencies and crews were on the scene including the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, Ohio State Fire Marshal and the Ohio Emergency Planning Agency.

The public is asked to avoid the area of Ohio 109 and Airport Highway where MetalX is located as both of these highways were shut down Monday into Tuesday.

According to Schindler, emergency officials also asked the public to be cautious and stay out of smoke and shelter in place when possible. The Ohio EPA is currently in the process of testing for air quality, while MetalX’s environmental consultant was also on scene Tuesday to continue to conduct air quality testing. Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the federal EPA were also on their way to the scene for additional testing. As of the press conference Tuesday afternoon, Miller said results regarding the quality were not yet available.

The officials thanked the fire departments and firefighters for their efforts.

“We really appreciate the help of the community, the first responders that came out and helped us all (Monday) night,” Brown said. “We know they’re tired.”

Central Local board discusses levy, schedule change

Several dates of import, both past and future, were highlighted by the Central Local Schools Board of Education during its monthly meeting on Monday.

The board discussed its community campaign to support its upcoming 0.5 percent tax on income proposal to fund permanent improvements in the school district. That levy is up for vote in November, and as such, the district recently hosted a “Mythbusters” event on Aug. 28 to dispel rumors, explain the district’s financial circumstances and answer questions about what money would go toward, should the levy pass.

“We had another good conversation with a nice turnout,” Superintendent Steve Arnold explained, noting 75 people attended.

Similar levy efforts proposed by the school district over the past several years have failed, leading community members and school officials to refocus efforts and champion an informational committee this time around.

“We did a bunch of homework ahead of time,” Arnold said. “Primarily it was about, how are you going to use the money and why don’t you have the money?

“We have enough money to continue operating as we are, but we have issues that need fixed or upgraded and we don’t have enough in our general fund to finish those.”

Such priority projects include a new roof for the middle and high school facility, a textbook adoption plan (hard copies and digital), installation of additional security cameras and replacement of 15 buses over 10 years.

“We’ve heard the community say we don’t want new facilities, fix up what you have, and that’s exactly what we’re’ trying to do,” said Arnold.

Student schedule change for Veterans Day

Additionally, a resolution was passed that will change planning for parents but will also create a positive for the community. A two-hour delay for professional development purposes was moved from Nov. 11 to Nov. 18, in order to make way for a full-scale Veterans Day program that will be launched this year.

“If we had a delay it wouldn’t allow for it to happen easily,” Arnold said. “We’d like to extend a special invitation to any veteran who wishes to attend; we’d love to have them.”

In other action, the board:

• Approved moving the November board meeting to Nov. 18.

• Approved the resignation of Robert English as bus driver, effective the end of the fiscal year.

• Employed Laura Rushinsky as a bus driver for the 2019-2020 school year.

• Employed Debbie Brubaker as a classroom aide for the 2019-2020 school year.

• Approved supplemental contracts for mentor teachers Lori Polter and Beth Bechtol, Spanish National Honor Society Advisor Jacqueline Davis and freshman basketball coach Spencer Hastedt

• Approved donations including $35 for junior high cheerleading, $100 for high school cheerleading and $200 for the band program, all from the Defiance County Fair. Other donations included: $500 from the Huron County Fair for cheerleading; $50 for book fees from Don and Ann Hange; $572.20 for book fees from St. John’s Lutheran and 100 book bags from V Twin Cruisers Motorcycle Club.

• Approved building use for the local chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes for an event on Oct. 2.