MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Students stayed home from school Thursday and several businesses were closed in parts of the upper Midwest as arctic air pushed wind chill readings to dangerously low temperatures.
A wind chill warning was in effect for northeastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota, with wind chill readings plunging to more than 40 below zero (-40 Celsius) in some areas. Forecasters from the National Weather Service urged people to limit time outdoors and bundle up, as exposed skin could be subject to frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.
It’s possible that at least one death could be attributed to the cold. Police in Omaha said they found the body of Robert Freymuller, 80, early Thursday in a street not far from the assisted-living center where he lived. His death is being investigated, but police said he was not dressed appropriately for the weather; the wind chill had dropped to minus 26 degrees (minus 32 Celsius) at that time.
In Minnesota, the coldest wind chill reading was in Fosston, in northwestern Minnesota, where the wind chill reached 48 degrees below (-44 Celsius), the National Weather Service said.
Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District notified parents that classes were canceled “due to extreme winter weather conditions in the early morning hours.” Several other districts were closed, and some had e-learning days, meaning that students received instruction online.
Schools, businesses and organizations were also closed or were opening late in Nebraska and Iowa on Thursday, as temperatures dropped to about 10-20 degrees below average in the northern and central Plains. Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and northern Missouri were also under wind chill advisories.
The upper Midwest will see some relief from the bitter cold over the weekend, as the cold air is expected to push into the Ohio Valley and interior New England and the lower Great Lakes region by Friday.
According to a non-prosecution agreement presented to Williams County Sheriff Steve Towns by special prosecutors, and signed by Towns, the sheriff will have to resign his elected office no later than 11:59 p.m. March 17.
Since the date coincides with the Republican primary, speculation is that the winner of the three-man race for the Republican nomination could step into the position after victory in the primary, and before the election. However, that’s not a sure consideration, as another could enter the November general election race as an independent.
So, what is the process for putting an interim sheriff in place until voters decide on a permanent replacement? That was a question for Williams County Commissioners to ponder during their Thursday regular meeting. Commissioners put the question to County Prosecutor Katie Zartman.
“I know how things have worked in the past,” said Zartman, “It’s a little different with the primary happening that same day.”
Zartman said she would research this issue and get back to commissioners.
“Unless he (Towns) decides to resign early, we’ve got a couple of weeks to figure this out,” she said.
Montpelier native and current Ohio Lt. governor Jon Husted continues to champion tech in the Buckeye State, most recently with his “Common Sense Initative,” which will increase the role of AI in government.
The program, conducted in partnership with InnovateOhio, aims to to use artifical intelligence as a tool in reforming state regulations. Specifically, Husted hopes the tool will help maintain a minimal backlog of unreviewed rules at the state level.
“Ohio has over 200 years of rules and regulations that have been patched together in a way that no one person or team of people can fully understand them,” said Husted in a prepare statement. “With our new AI tool, any regulatory topic can be researched and analyzed in seconds. We are going to use this new tool to bring comprehensive regulatory reform to Ohio.”
A release from Husted’s office cites a 2018 report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which estimated that Ohio currently has over 240,000 regulations that would take a person 21 weeks to read.
“While there are many efforts attempted to ensure only necessary and reasonable rules remain on the books, the quantity makes it a near impossible task,” reads the release.
The project officially launched on Wednesday and was announced during a meeting of the Small Business Advisory Council. It is funded by the Ohio General Assembly in House Bill 166.
It is said to use text analytics and artificial intelligence in comparing and linking data sets—a task the release states could take humans months or years—and “provide government policymakers with opportunities to streamline regulations.”
The tool is also intended to more quickly sort data from the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and Ohio Administrative Code (OAC).
“In partnership with CSI staff, this will significantly hasten the process of deciding which regulations are truly necessary for the health and safety of Ohioans and which may be outdated, conflicting, or redundant,” stated the release.
Tuesday, Feb. 18, is the deadline to register to vote in the March 17 primary election.
Voters may go to the Williams County Board of Elections office at 1425 E. High St., Suite 104, Bryan, to register or update an existing registration, or go online at VoteOhio.gov. Voter registration forms also may be printed from the board office, from VoteOhio.gov, or from the library.
The Williams County Elections Board has extended absentee/early voting hours for the March primary as follows:
8 a.m. — 5 p.m.
8 a.m. — 5 p.m.
8 a.m. — 6 p.m.
8 a.m. — 4 p.m.
8 a.m. — 7 p.m.
8 a.m. — 4 p.m.
8 a.m. — 2 p.m.
County Elections Director A.J. Nowaczyk said early voting will be set up just like a precinct: Arrive at the board office, sign in at a poll pad, receive your ballot, vote and then scan your ballot. Election staff will be available to assist voters with any questions.
Election Day voting hours on Tuesday, March 17, are 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
“The big advantage of early voting is it’s almost always less crowded than at the polls on Election Day,” Nowaczyk said. “And, if you work or have other responsibilities or are going to be out of the county on Election Day, with early voting, you can vote when it’s convenient.”
Nowaczyk also issued a reminder to voters to adhere to state law and not engage in campaigning or electioneering near the polls. Do not wear T-shirts, hats, pins or stickers promoting any specific candidate or issue near, or into, a polling location.
Ohio Revised Code 3501.35 forbids “any kind of election campaigning within the area between the polling place and the small flags of the United States placed on the thoroughfares and walkways leading to the polling place, and if the line of electors waiting to vote extends beyond those small flags, within 10 feet of any elector in that line.”
It’s also illegal to: “In any manner, hinder or delay an elector in reaching or leaving the place fixed for casting the elector’s ballot ...” or “solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any elector in casting the elector’s vote.”
“With emotions running high with this primary election coming up, it’s a good idea to remind voters about (electioneering),” Nowaczyk said.
The elections office is seeking people who are willing to undergo a few hours of paid training at the elections office to become a poll worker.
Poll worker training dates are as follows:
Feb. 17 at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Feb. 19 at 1 p.m.
Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.
Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.
Feb. 27 at 5 p.m.
Feb. 29 at 9 a.m.
March 7 at 9 a.m.
Once trained, poll workers are paid about $137 to work during Election Day, which generally is between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., including setup and wrap-up, said Deputy Elections Director Katrena Ebersole.
The elections office is looking for any registered voter, including party affiliated and voters who are registered independents.
“If you have any questions, or if none of these training dates work for you, please give us a call (419-636-1854). We are willing to work with you anyway we can. We want to make this process as easy as possible,” Ebersole said.
The Central Local Schools Board of Education has welcomed its second new board of education member in two months.
Austin L. Imm, 39, will serve out the remaining time on the term of recently retired board member Roger Zeedyk, who served on the board for 20 years.
Imm’s term will expire on Dec. 31, 2021.
The board swore in Imm on Wednesday afternoon during its monthly meeting.
Imm, a 1999 graduate of Edgerton High School, works as a union bricklayer and has two young children nearing the ages of entering into attendance at Central Local Schools. Imm lives just east of Ney with his wife, Lindsay Imm, who works as a first grade teacher at Fairview Elementary.
Imm elaborated on why he sought the opportunity to serve, touching on the district’s focus in the coming months and years on permanent improvements, having procured funding for those projects in November’s election.
“It’s a really good district and I wanted to be a part and help in any way I could, so I thought this would be a good venture,” he said. “We have a great community, and with my construction background, I’ve built a lot schools in the area (including Bryan and Defiance) ... I think I can be effective in helping make good decisions for the school.”
The addition comes on the heels of the board adding Ben Guisinger for a four-year term in January. Guisinger defeated Owen Brigner in the November general election after board member Jen John decided not to run in the same election.
“The Central Local School District Board of Education congratulates Mr. Imm as a newly appointed member of the board of education,” stated a release from Central Local Schools. “May your service to the school district, residents and the students be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.”