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Employment recognition dinner celebrates partnership, success

More than 215 years of combined employment of individuals with disabilities and their employers were celebrated at the Williams County Board of Developmental Disabilities (WCBDD) dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

More than 105 people were in attendance and 31 individuals and their employers were honored at the recognition dinner at the Loyal Order of Moose, in Montpelier.

Dawn Nelson and Derrick Green were two of the individuals who were recognized.

Nelson celebrated 14 years with Rita’s Family Dining in Edgerton. She washes dishes and puts dishes away two days a week and says, “I like Rita’s because they have good food.” Her coworkers, Cindy Miller and Jim Kurtz, both said she is a hard worker and always smiling.

Outside of work, Nelson is very involved in the community through volunteering. She rings the bell for Salvation Army and volunteered at the Williams County Fair, and also helps at church with cleaning and stuffing envelopes.

Green celebrated 15 years at Rita’s Family Dining. He is a dishwasher and a runner. Green says he “does a little bit of everything” and his coworkers are all fun to work with. He also enjoys getting to know the customers.

When Green isn’t at work, he plays baseball through Special Olympics, volunteers at a local thrift store and plays video games.

“This is more than a job for people. There is a genuine sense of pride and friendship between employers and employees,” said Jennifer Basselman, WCBDD superintendent.

Said Joan Miller, WCBDD community inclusion specialist: “I am excited to see the growth in our numbers employed and the support they receive from employers, job developers and providers.”

Interestingly, two people who had lost their jobs due to a restaurant closing last year were connected to job leads at last year’s recognition dinner. Both are now currently working with employers they met at the event and they both celebrated one year of employment at their new jobs.

Jeff Davis, state director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, was in attendance and said it’s about opportunity.

“For most of us in this room, what we do during the day, with respect to work, that defines us. Outside of family, it’s the most important thing,” Davis said. “If it’s important to us, we should offer that opportunity to everybody. And that’s what you are doing in this room. I can’t tell you how appreciative we are for what you are doing and what you have accomplished.”

Unemployment rates tick down, but are up year-over-year

While non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates fell slightly across the four-county area from August to September, 2019’s monthly county rates continued to trend ever so slightly upward from their 2018 counterparts.

At the state level, Ohio’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in September, from 4.2 percent in August and 4.6 percent in July.

The national rate was 3.3 percent for September 2019, down from 3.8 percent in August and 4 percent in July.

Williams County

Williams County’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed at 3.4 percent in September after ticking down to that rate in August from 3.6 percent in July. The county’s rate remains one of the lowest in the state, and is the lowest in the four-county area by 0.4 percent. The mark continues the county’s long streak of falling under national monthly rates, though it rose above the Ohio rate for September by 0.1 percent.

The rate was 0.1 percent higher than the county’s September 2018 rate of 3.3 percent, ending a long-term trend of showing year-over-year improvement each month. Still, the rate was down compared to Williams County’s September 2017 mark of 3.9 percent.

An estimated 18,400 of the county’s 19,000-person workforce were employed during September 2019.

Defiance County

Defiance County’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate for September 2019 was 4.2 percent, down slightly from 4.3 percent in August and from 4.7 percent in July. It was higher than both the state and national rates and was the highest in the four-county area.

Defiance County’s comparable rate from September 2018 was a somewhat lower 3.9 percent, ending a long-term trend of monthly rates showing improvement over 2018. But the September 2019 rate still showed significant improvement from the 4.6 percent rate it posted for that month in 2017.

An estimated 17,200 of Defiance County’s 18,000-person workforce were employed during September 2019.

Fulton County

Fulton County’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September 2019 was 3.8 percent, down slightly from 3.9 percent in August and 4.2 percent in July. The rate was higher than the state average but below the national rate.

Fulton County’s comparable rate for September 2018 was a slightly lower 3.6 percent, ending a long-term trend of showing year-over-year improvement. It was, however, down from 4.2 percent in September 2017.

An estimated 21,200 of Fulton’s 22,100-person workforce were employed during September 2019.

Henry County

Henry County’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate for September 2019 was 3.9 percent, down slightly from 4.1 percent in August and 4.6 percent in July, keeping it well above the national rate but below the state average. The month bucked a trend in which Henry County kept even with the state rate several months in a row.

Henry County’s comparable September 2018 rate was a slightly lower 3.8 percent, ending a long-term trend of showing year-over-year improvement. The current rate matched the September 2017 mark of 3.9 percent.

An estimated 12,800 of Henry’s 13,300-person workforce were employed during September 2019.

US diplomat: Trump linked Ukraine aid to demand for probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top U.S. diplomat testified Tuesday that President Donald Trump was holding back military aid for Ukraine unless the country agreed to investigate Democrats and a company linked to Joe Biden’s family, providing lawmakers with a detailed new account of the quid pro quo central to the impeachment probe.

In a {a target=”—blank” href=”http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6509036-Taylor-1.html”}lengthy opening statement{/a} to House investigators obtained by The Associated Press, William Taylor described Trump’s demand that “everything” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wanted, including vital aid to counter Russia, hinged on making a public vow that Ukraine would investigate Democrats going back to the 2016 U.S. election as well as a company linked to the family of Trump’s potential 2020 Democratic rival.

Taylor testified that what he discovered in Kyiv was the Trump administration’s “irregular” back channel to foreign policy led by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and “ultimately alarming circumstances” that threatened to erode the United States’ relationship with a budding Eastern European ally facing Russian aggression.

In a date-by-date account, detailed across several pages, the seasoned diplomat who came out of retirement to take over as charge d’affaires at the embassy in Ukraine details his mounting concern as he realized Trump was trying to put the newly elected president of the young democracy “in a public box.”

“I sensed something odd,” he testified, describing a trio of Trump officials planning a call with Zelenskiy, including one, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who wanted to make sure “no one was transcribing or monitoring” it.

Lawmakers who emerged after nearly 10 hours of the private deposition were stunned at Taylor’s account, which some Democrats said established a “direct line” to the quid pro quo at the center of {a target=”—blank” href=”https://apnews.com/Trumpimpeachmentinquiry”}the impeachment probe.{/a}

“It was shocking,” said Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat. “It was very clear that it was required — if you want the assistance, you have to make a public statement.”

She characterized it as “it’s this for that.”

Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada, said, “You can see how damning this is.”

Titus said, “This certainly makes it pretty clear what was going on. And it was a quid pro quo.”

The account reaches to the highest levels of the administration, drawing in Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and slices at the core of the Republican defense of the administration and the president’s insistence of no wrongdoing.

It also lays bare the struggle between Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton and those who a previous State Department witness described as the “three amigos” — Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy Kurt Volker— who were involved in the alternative Ukraine policy vis-a-vis Russia.

It’s illegal to seek or receive contributions of value from a foreign entity for a U.S. election.

“President Trump has done nothing wrong,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “This is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. There was no quid pro quo.”

Taylor’s appearance was among the most anticipated before House investigators because of a series of text messages with the other diplomats in which he called Trump’s attempt to hold back military aid to Ukraine “crazy.”

His testimony opens a new front in the impeachment inquiry, and it calls into question the account from Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who told Congress last week that he did not fully remember some details of the events and was initially unaware that the gas company Burisma was tied to the Bidens.

Taylor told lawmakers that Sondland, a wealthy businessman who donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, was aware of the demands and later admitted he made a mistake by telling the Ukrainians that military assistance was not contingent on agreeing to Trump’s requests.

“In fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including the security assistance,” Taylor recalled.

“Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” Taylor said about a Sept. 1 phone call between them.

Taylor apparently kept detailed records of conversations and documents, including two personal notebooks, lawmakers said.

The retired diplomat, a former Army officer, had been serving as executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan think tank founded by Congress, when he was appointed to run the embassy in Kyiv after Trump suddenly recalled Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch.

Taylor testified that he had concerns about taking over the post under those circumstances, but she urged him to go “for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.” He had served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.

Lawmakers described the career civil servant’s delivery as credible and consistent, as he answered hours of questions from Democrats and Republicans, drawing silence in the room as lawmakers exchanged glances.

Taylor testified that he “sat in astonishment” on a July 18 call in which a White House budget official said that Trump had relayed a message through Mulvaney that the aid should be withheld.

A month later, his concerns had so deepened that he was preparing to resign. Sensing the U.S. policy toward Ukraine has shifted, he described an Aug. 22 phone call with Tim Morrison, a Russia adviser at the White House, who told him, the “president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”

“That was extremely troubling to me,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s description of Trump’s position is in sharp contrast to how the president has characterized it. Trump has said many times that there was no quid pro quo, though Mulvaney contradicted that last week. Mulvaney later tried to walk back his remarks.

“The testimony is very disturbing,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., used the same word.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said Taylor “drew a straight line” with documents, timelines and individual conversations in his records.

“I do not know how you would listen to today’s testimony from Ambassador Taylor and come to any other (conclusion) except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid,” she said.

The impeachment probe was sparked by a whistleblower’s complaint of a July call. In that call, Trump told Zelenskiy he wanted “a favor,” which the White House later acknowledged in a rough transcript of the conversation was Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate the Democratic National Committee’s email hack in 2016 as well as the Ukrainian gas company Burisma tied to Biden’s family.


Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Laurie Kellman, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.



Taylor’s opening statement: {a target=”—blank” href=”http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6509036-Taylor-1.html”}http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6509036-Taylor-1.html{/a}

Trump likens House impeachment inquiry to 'a lynching'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump triggered outrage Tuesday by comparing the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry to a lynching, assigning the horrors of a deadly and racist chapter in U.S. history to a process laid out in the Constitution.

“That is one word no president ought to apply to himself,” said Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking African American in Congress. “That is a word that we ought to be very, very careful about using.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s words “unfortunate.”

“Given the history in our country, I would not compare this to a lynching,” the Senate’s top Republican told reporters. “That was an unfortunate choice of words.”

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who is also black, called on Trump to delete the tweet.

“Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet,” Rush wrote.

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., tweeted to Trump: “No sir! No, @realDonaldTrump: this is NOT a lynching, and shame on you for invoking such a horrific act that was used as a weapon to terrorize and murder African Americans.”

Republican legislators largely tried to put the focus on what they said was the unfair way in which Democrats are conducting the inquiry.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s description was “pretty well accurate.” He called the impeachment effort a “sham” and a “joke” because the president does not know the identity of his accuser, and the process is playing out in private.

“This is a lynching in every sense,” said Graham, who is close to Trump.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s only black Republican, agreed with Trump’s sentiment but not his word choice.

“There’s no question that the impeachment process is the closest thing (to) a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process,” Scott said. He added, “I wouldn’t use the word lynching.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is also close to Trump, also said “lynching” isn’t “the language that I would use.”

Defending Trump, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the president was trying to point out the way he has been “attacked” by the news media since before he took office. Trump’s tweet mentions Republicans and Democrats only, not the news media.

“The president’s not comparing what’s happened to him with one of our darkest moments in American history,” Gidley said.

Lynchings, typically hangings, were used mostly by whites against black men, mostly in the South, beginning in the late 19th century amid rising racial tensions. By comparing his possible impeachment to a lynching, Trump also likened Democrats to a mob intent on lynching someone.

Under pressure over impeachment, blowback over his Syria policy and other issues, the Republican president tweeted Tuesday: “So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights.”

“All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching. But we will WIN!”

Malinda Edwards, whose father was lynched by Ku Klux Klansmen in Alabama in 1957, said Trump’s tweet was “unbelievable.”

“Either he’s very ignorant or very insensitive or very racist and just doesn’t care, said Edwards, 66, of Dayton, Ohio. Her father, Willie Edwards Jr., was forced to jump of a river bridge by Klansmen who heard that he had smiled at a white woman. Edwards’ name is now among those on a memorial in Montgomery honoring more than 4,000 lynching victims. His daughter said Trump’s comment made light of the horror experienced by victims of racially motivated killings.

“These are people who went through the most gruesome and heinous things that could be done to them,” Edwards said.

The Congressional Black Caucus encouraged Trump to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, also known as the “Lynching Museum,” to learn more about the history of lynching.

Trump often tries to portray himself as the victim, and the tweet came a day after he lashed out at critics of his decision — since rescinded — to schedule a major international economic summit for 2020 at one of his Florida golf properties. He also lamented people who invoke the “phony emoluments clause.”

The emoluments clause is in the Constitution and bans presidents from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments, without the consent of Congress. Impeachment and its process are also in the Constitution.

A whistleblower’s complaint that Trump was attempting to use his office for personal political gain during a July 25 phone conversation with Ukraine’s president led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open the impeachment inquiry.

Trump insists he did nothing wrong. He has characterized the conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as “perfect” and argues that sore-loser Democrats are still trying to overturn the 2016 election that put him in the White House and keep him from winning reelection next year.

Lynchings were fueled by anger toward blacks across the South, where many whites blamed their financial problems on newly freed slaves living around them, the NAACP notes.

Separately Tuesday, a U.S. appeals court in Atlanta was considering whether federal judges can order grand jury records unsealed in the mob lynching of two black couples. The young black sharecroppers were stopped along a rural road in 1946 by a white mob that dragged them out and shot them multiple times east of Atlanta. More than 100 people reportedly testified before a grand jury, but no one was ever indicted in the deaths of Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey.

Bryan councilman among those urging caution during School Bus Safety Week

A Bryan City Council member joined the Ohio School Boards Association in urging caution around school buses in recognition of National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 21-25.

“Please respect the reds,” councilman John Betts said, referencing the red stop sign that is extended and red lights that flash when a school bus is brought to a stop.

Betts drives a bus for the Bryan City Schools and has been an outspoken proponent of increased school bus safety, including efforts to make seat belts mandatory in all seats on buses. His son, David, was killed in a 2007 bus crash in Atlanta while traveling with the Bluffton University baseball team.

Every day in Ohio, 800,000 children ride more than 15,000 school buses between their homes and schools, the Ohio School Boards Association said in a news release. School Bus Safety Week, the association said, serves as a reminder for students, parents, teachers and the community about the importance of keeping children safe.

“We train our bus drivers to be cautious, but we need help from the community when motorists are driving around school buses and in school zones,” OSBA Senior Transportation Consultant Pete Japikse said. “We need to prevent students from being struck and harmed when outside the bus.”

Earlier this year, OSBA asked bus drivers to count how many times they were passed illegally at a bus stop in a single day. The results were staggering. More than 5,000 drivers reported over 1,500 violations on that day alone. Motorists ignored the buses’ flashing red lights and stop sign as well as disregarding Ohio laws requiring them to stop.

At the beginning of the school year, Betts said multiple drivers failed to properly stop for Bryan buses, but on Monday, he said, “It has been safer (later) this year. We’ve not had those problems so thank you.”

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, prior to stopping, school buses display yellow warning lights that signify the bus is about to stop. Once a bus comes to a stop, flashing lights and a stop sign are displayed. Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from either direction are required to stop at least 10 feet from the bus while the bus is receiving or discharging students. When a road is divided into four or more lanes, only traffic driving in the same direction as the bus must stop. Drivers may not resume their travels until the bus resumes traveling.

So far in 2019, 799 school bus crashes have taken place in Ohio. OSHP has issued 2,104 citations to motorists who committed violations around school buses and in school zones.

“Although drivers are required to stop for school buses loading or unloading passengers, children should not rely on motorists to do so,” said Richard S. Fambro, OSHP superintendent. “Children exiting the bus should always stop and look both ways before crossing the street, remaining alert for any sudden traffic.”

Troopers will be highly visible this week along school bus routes and in school zones to ensure the safety of students.