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Edon discusses police radios

EDON — The Edon Police Department is looking into a new radio service as the service contracts on its current models are running out sooner rather than later.

It’s a problem all the police agencies in the county have.

“They’re beyond their service date is what it amounts to,” Edon Police Chief Tom Szymczak said in an interview after Monday’s Edon Village Council meeting.

The police departments along with Williams County 911 Communications are looking into the MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communications) system that is offered throughout the state, Szymczak said. Around 77 of the state’s 88 counties are currently on the program.

The big problem with this potential switchover is that there are a lot of upstart costs and officials are looking for something that is equitable for all parties involved and what kind of buying power the county can get as a group.

“There are a lot of things they are trying to sort out with it,” Szymczak said. “It’ll be a custom-built system for us, our area, our community with our channels and all that. It works well; we’ve been trying it out in the county with service.”

He added everyone wanted to do their homework and roll out a good program.

It’s a big ticket item and something that is a long time coming.

“Back in ‘95 they told us the system we are currently on is antiquated,” he said.

The change needs to happen by 2021, as Motorola won’t service their equipment at that point. Szymczak didn’t have the exact date.

He told the council during the meeting he didn’t expect the change to happen soon.

“It’s not going to happen next year. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen right at the end of when we are due to do so,” Szymczak said.

Szymczak added everyone is “in limbo” on the move until the county and Bryan decide to go with MARCS or something else.

He explained in the interview this is because everyone is going to be on the same system and Bryan will want compatibility with the county because they will serve as each other’s backup.

While they could get a quote, it would only be good for a couple of months.

When Councilman Spencer Kaiser asked about the cost, Szymczak said the cost wasn’t known but depends on the number of radios. For Edon, he wanted to offer new equipment for the cars for “new mobiles, portables and repeaters” and to maybe get used portables online.

“You pay a service fee monthly per unit you have in service,” Szymczak told council, later adding that fee is $10 per month per unit.

Councilman David Loughborough asked if there was only one vendor for the radio. Szymczak said that was his impression, but he didn’t know for sure.

Loughborough said it seemed like they would “chop the local guy out and go with a national company.”

The MARCS website lists four dealers and shops: BK Technologies (Formerly BK Relm); EF Johnson/Kenwood; Harris/Tait; and Motorola.

Kaiser said he wanted to see serviceability with the radios.

“When we shop for fire trucks, we can go to California where it might be the fanciest truck ever, but come serviceability time, we really want a company that’s closer,” he said. “If a radio goes down, we want it fixed as quick as possible.”

Szymczak said he wasn’t sure about where and how they would be serviced.

He also told council they wouldn’t be eligible for a grant until 2021.

When Loughborough pressed about the upstart costs for his department, Szymczak said he’s looking into two mobiles, two repeaters and two portables and the set aside for capital outlay was $20,000.

“There are a lot of agencies spending double and triple what we’re doing for their buy-in,” he said.

In other business:

• Council was reminded that trick-or-treating is Saturday from 6-7:30 p.m. The chamber of commerce and the Florence Township Fire Department will host a costume contest at the fire hall at 7:30.

• Szymczak announced he purchased four bulletproof vests for his department for $485 after grant and with a discount.

• Loughborough mentioned the ordinance that banned chickens, saying it seemed to be made in reference to a resident with 472 chickens in their backyard. No decision was made, but Loughborough mentioned there were other ordinances that may need updating.

• Mayor Duane Thiel gave the update for Administrator Chad Ordway, who is on vacation. He said they are waiting on quotes for air conditioning replacement at the park, that a valve exerciser is in and the village is ready for leaf pick-up when they start falling.


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County seeing increases in obesity, mental health issues

Mental health issues and obesity are becoming bigger problems in Williams County, though it beat the national and state averages in other areas.

This was revealed Monday afternoon when Emily Golias of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio presented the findings of the 2019 Williams County Health Status Assessment.

The assessment was conducted through online and mailing campaigns for adults in the county while surveys were administered to youth in classrooms at randomly selected schools and grades six through 12.

The findings were separated into several different categories including health care access, adult health, youth health and social conditions.

MENTAL HEALTH

For adults and youth, mental health issues are becoming more and more common.

“Mental health is not a problem that is unique to Williams County, but it is something we want to continue to prioritize and something we do want to keep an eye on,” Golias said.

In the county, 30 percent of adults rated their mental health as not good on four or more days in the past 30 days. This is doubled from 2013 and is up from 23 percent in 2016.

“Clearly, you can see that there’s some work to be done and you are higher than Ohio and the U.S.,” Golias said.

The state and national numbers are 24 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Golias said the Centers for Disease Control’s threshold for depression is feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in the past year. In Williams County, 13 percent meet this criteria, up from 8 percent and 9 percent in 2013 and 2016.

In addition, 5 percent seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, while 1 percent actually did attempt suicide.

The main reason adults were feeling anxiety, stress or depression varied and included: job stress (38 percent), financial stress (34 percent) and death of a close family member or friend (22 percent).

Tied in third place was current news and politics, which came in at 22 percent.

“That’s kind of a new one we’re seeing increase lately,” Golias said. “Five years ago we didn’t really see news or politics causing stress or depression, but we’re seeing that number go up ... It’s definitely something to be noted.”

For youth, the numbers are higher with 30 percent reporting feeling so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities.

Meanwhile, 16 percent have seriously considered suicide while 8 percent attempted suicide and 4 percent made more than one attempt in the past year.

“As far as youth populations that we’ve worked in across the state, these are some of the highest I’ve seen,” Golias said. “Again, it’s not an issue that is unique to Williams County, this is an issue that is happening everywhere. But, this is higher than usual.”

While it may be higher than she’s seen, they’re about even with national statistics.

National statistics only count high school students, among whom 32 percent reported being depressed. For Williams County high schoolers, the number is also 32 percent. Those who considered attempting suicide nationally totaled 17 percent, or 16 percent countywide, while 7 percent attempted suicide both nationally and in the county.

It’s also something that has been on the rise over the years, both nationally and in the county, Golias said.

The main stressors for youth were academic success, reported in 44 percent of youth; fighting with friends, reported in 39 percent; and self-image and death of a close family member or friend, both reported in 35 percent.

Other high stressors include sports, stress or fighting at home, peer pressure, being bullied and issues with dating or a breakup.

The good news is 48 percent of respondents would seek help but 36 percent said they wouldn’t because they can handle it themselves.

“But, 26 percent said they were worried what others might think, so we’re getting at that stigma a little bit with almost a quarter of youth being worried what others might think if they were to seek help,” Golias said.

Other reasons include lack of time, not knowing where to go, problems with payment, lack of support from family and transportation issues.

However, 6 percent were currently in treatment.

OBESITY

Williams County’s adults are getting more obese.

Based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), 31 percent of the county’s adults were overweight. This is actually trending down over the years, as 38 percent of adults were overweight in 2013. This is one area where the county is doing better than the state and national averages, which are 34 percent and 35 percent respectively.

However, the rate of obesity (including people who are severely or morbidly obese) has increased to 42 percent from 30 percent in 2013. This is higher than the state and national populations, which are at 34 percent and 32 percent respectively.

“What’s funny about that is typically in the past when we’ve done these assessments, you’ll see that overweight number tend to be the higher number,” Golias said. “Now, we’re seeing that paradigm shift where those who are obese are higher than those who are overweight.”

Around 8 percent of county adults are morbidly obese, which Golias said means people are so obese it affects their mortality.

Looking at contributing factors to weight — diet and exercise — the assessment finds that 73 percent of adults ate one to two servings of fruits and vegetables per day while 13 percent ate none. The data shows 13 percent of adults ate three to four servings a day and only 1 percent age five or more.

Around 57 percent of adults had some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes on three or more days per week, though 27 percent did not have any physical activity.

Fewer people in the county are also rating their general health as excellent or very good, 47 percent in 2019 compared to 56 percent in 2013. For the state, the number is 49 percent while it’s 51 percent nationally.

“You are very close to Ohio and the U.S., but it’s not a direction we want to go in,” Golias said.

For youth, those numbers are much smaller, with 14 percent of youth classified as obese by BMI and 14 percent also classified as overweight.

These rates have also stayed relatively the same with some minor fluctuations in the last 10 years.

National statistics (which only count high school students), show 15 percent of youth are obese while only 13 percent of Williams County youth in that age group are. Fourteen percent of county high school students are overweight while 16 percent of high school students across the country are overweight.

The state has been unable to collect youth data for several years, so no comparable data is available, Golias said.

In order to lose or keep from gaining weight, 51 percent of youth exercised, 44 percent drank more water and 35 percent ate less food, fewer calories or foods lower in fat.

“As far as the top three are concerned, people are doing the right thing, at least,” Golias said. “However, you will see on the opposite of the spectrum they are still engaging in less healthy activities to try to lose weight.”

These included 20 percent of youth who skipped meals, 6 percent who went without eating for 24 hours or more, 2 percent who took diet pills without a doctor’s advice and 1 percent who smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes.

“Those are the kinds of health behaviors we really want to steer kids away from,” Golias said.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, 89 percent had between one and four servings of fruit in a day while 83 percent had one to four servings of vegetables.

“That is pretty typical for what we see in our youth populations,” Golias said.

In the last week, 79 percent of youth had at least an hour of physical activity on three or more days in the past week. Only 10 percent did not have 60 minutes of physical activity on any day in the past week.


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Commissioners open bids for land rental

Williams County Commissioners, on Monday, opened bids from area farmers who are interested in renting 162 acres of county-owned land near Hillside Country Living.

Commissioners received 11 bids from farmers who, if selected, would be contracted to rent the land for three years for crop production. The bids ranged from a high of $257 per acre per year (a total of $41,634 annually) to a low of $126 per acre per year (a total of $20,412 annually).

The land for rent is to be let in three separate parcels and is described as:

• Parcel One (073-220-00-009.000) is about 88 tillable acres north of County Road I.50 and east of the Hillside campus, 09876 County Road 16;

• Parcel Two (073-150-00-007.000) is about 58 tillable acres northeast of the intersection of county roads 16 and J, excluding a small, approximately 12-parcel area that is the site of the Hillside Aeromodelers club; and,

• Parcel Three (073-210-00-002.000) is about 16 tillable acres west and southwest of the Jefferson Township building, 9991 County Road 16.

Commissioners hold the right to accept or reject bids.

The selected bidder will have access to the properties as soon as agreements are signed. Proceeds from the land rental will benefit Hillside Country Living — a county owned senior facility and community.

Commissioners expect to name a winning bidder within the week.


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Bryan City Schools to refinance bonds, esports approved

Bryan City Schools has set in motion a process that, at the end of eight weeks, should save taxpayers close to $500,000 over the term of bonds passed in 2014 to help finance the construction of new facilities, according to a financial representative who spoke at Monday’s school board meeting.

Should the market hold through the end of the period, the district’s Series 2014B bonds will be refinanced from an interest rate of 4.07 percent to 3.19 percent, a move that banking firm Stifel representative Patrick King indicated will save approximately $487,692 over the life of the bonds.

“Because interest rates are so low, there is an opportunity available to Bryan to save a significant amount of money,” said King, noting that total savings would be about 7.13 percent over the life of the bonds, should the transaction go through at the end of eight weeks.

Another move, to refinance the district’s Series A bonds, could also be made sometime next year, if the situation holds.

Esports

Additionally, the district formally approved the creation of an esports program, as presented by teacher Matthew Kaullen at its September board meeting, through a non-profit, educator-led league of 100 teams, Esports Ohio.

Esports involves organized, coached and competitive online video gaming aimed at building largely the same qualities as physical sports at the youth level: teamwork, communication, hard work, strategy and perseverance.

Bryan will participate in sanctioned popular games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros., all approved for teen players in terms of content.

In an informal 24-hour email survey, 66 percent of about 140 respondents at Bryan High indicated they would take an interest in esports if it was available, with a further 34.9 percent responding “maybe.” If all those students decided to participate, the program would immediately become the largest in the district.

Bryan students would be able to try out for an undetermined number of spots on both varsity and junior varsity teams during two separate seasons, in the spring and fall. They would be required to maintain their GPA and attend regular practices, as would any athlete. Additional coaches are being sought.

Social skill building, as well as pulling in students who may not otherwise participate in an activity were also cited as benefits to such a program. According to Kaullen, startup costs would be minimal.

Nearby school districts like Delta, Liberty Center, Otsego, Springfield, Genoa and Maritime Academy of Toledo also participate in esports. Millcreek-West Unity Local Schools also approved a program earlier this year. Several Ohio colleges have also gotten in on the rapidly growing trend.

The hope for the program is to be ready in time for the spring season.

In other action Monday, the board:

• Heard the general fund stands at $14,163,656.17 with total investments at $18,957,039.95.

• Approved donations including $500 from Bryan Lioness Club for school lunches for students in need as well as various items from Haas Bakery for kindergarten classes and $3,249.50 from the George Azar and Mary Ade Isaac Memorial Fund for Student Assistance.

• Approved the implementation of anonymous bullying reporting app, STOPit, which is also used by schools like Edon and Edgerton in Williams County.

• Approved the conduction of several week-long, after-school STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) sessions for Bryan Elementary students.

• Heard Bryan officials will speak to other districts about their experiences installing the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports System at two separate events this year.

• Approved an agreement with Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers-Bryan and St. Patrick Catholic School.

• Heard a presentation from the school’s STEM Team.

• Approved an agreement with the Williams County YMCA for the 2019-2020 high school swim team.

• Approved hire of Fereon John Betts as a bus driver


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Trick-or-Treat dates and times

Alvordton

Oct. 26, 5:30- 7 p.m.

Bryan

Oct. 26, 5-6:30 p.m.

There will also be a Halloween Party at Mattie Marsh Park the same evening, from 5-7 p.m. Additionally, from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, the Bryan Parks and Recreation Department will host a Community Halloween party for children fourth grade and younger from 2-4 p.m. at MacDonald-Ruff Ice Arena.

Edgerton

Halloween festivities will be Saturday, Nov. 2. Trick or treat will run from 5-6 p.m.

A trunk or treat event will take place at the village office from 6-7 p.m.

A costume contest will begin at the village office’s gym at 7:30 p.m.

Edon

Oct. 26., 6-7:30 p.m.

Montpelier

Oct. 26: Village trick-or-treating will take place from 6-7 p.m., but before that, trick-or-treat bags will be given to the first 250 children who attend a sponsored event at the Montpelier firehouse from 5-6 p.m. A costume contest will follow, and Halloween parade will travel to Main Street Park. The Halloween celebration is sponsored by the Montpelier Chamber of Commerce, the Montpelier Police Department and the Village of Montpelier.

Pioneer

Oct. 31, 5:30-7 p.m.

Stryker

Oct. 26, 5-7:30 p.m.

West Unity

Oct. 26, 6-7:30 p.m.

Ney

Oct. 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Hicksville

Oct. 26, 5-7 p.m.

Sherwood

Oct. 27, 3:30-5 p.m.


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City moves to dissolve BPA

Since 1906, the Bryan Board of Public Affairs has developed the policies and made the decisions that govern the city’s utilities.

That could change in the near future after Bryan City Council voted Monday to put the option of dissolving the BPA to public vote.

Before council voted, they heard from longtime council member and civic leader Richard Reed, who said he advocated for uniting the city’s governing bodies for more than 20 years.

“I’ve been asked why,” the city has a BPA and a council, Reed said, “and the only answer I can give is I don’t know because I’m not sure it is necessary.”

Reed asked that council put the issue on the ballot and councilman John Betts quickly obliged.

Betts said dissolving five-person BPA would require a change to the city charter; He then made a motion to direct City Attorney Rhonda Fisher to draft legislation to put it on the ballot in 2020.

Council voted unanimously to support the motion.

City officials said that, once drafted, the legislation will go through at least three readings so that members of the public may comment.

At the conclusion of the meeting’s regular session, Betts said, “This motion is to let the people of Bryan determine how much government they want and how much they need. It’s not a negative reflection on BPA or (Bryan Municipal Utilities’) staff or employees.”

Proponents of uniting the governing bodies say doing so would streamline city government and save time and money. Others contend that a dedicated BPA allows elected representatives to keep a closer eye on the city’s utilities and their finances.

BPA members Jim Salsbury and Tom Sprow were present at Monday’s council meeting and declined comment.

In other action Monday, council:

• Authorized a lease agreement with Regional Growth Partnership to provide space in the Don North Municipal Building, within the engineering department, for a senior site manager for RGP.

• Approved moving police dispatcher McKenzie Martinez to regular employment status and a contractually predetermined pay raise for both Martinez and dispatcher trainee Jordyn Waters. Full-time wastewater department employee Brett Miller was also moved to unlicensed full-time non-probationary status.

• Approved the resignation of volunteer firefighter Kacey Grubb.

• Approved the hiring of Norma Jean Barron as a part-time cleaning employee.

• Met in executive session to discuss collective bargaining and acquisition of property. Upon returning to regular session, council voted unanimously to give wastewater and police bargaining unit employees Veterans Day off for 2019.