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Kids, adults love exotic zoo at Edon library

EDON — Who wants the opportunity to pet a kangaroo and/or an alligator?

Based off response at the Edon branch of the Williams County Public Library, a lot of people do.

Branch manager Cynthia Jewel estimated Exotic Zoo, an educational wildlife program, brought in around 175 people Wednesday.

Javon Stacks, the owner of Exotic Zoo, showed off several different animals for the kids and adults, who got into it as much as the kids did.

Stacks showed them a ring-tailed lemur from Madagascar, who jumped onto several people’s shoulders, and an Eurasian eagle-owl who flapped her wings while standing on his gloved hands. The kids were allowed to pet a beaver and, later, an alligator while adults were able to a pet a kangaroo.

They also learned about and saw a lynx while Stacks also taught them all about the kinkajou, also called the honey bear, as she hung upside down from Stacks’ arm with a prehensile tail. Typically, the kinkajou is nocturnal, but he said he trained her to be active in the daytime.

Jewel said the library has hosted Exotic Zoo before and it’s always popular.

“He’s very educational and the kids get to see animals they never get to see up close and he’s very good with the animals and he watches out for their safety and, of course, the audience safety, as well,” she said. “We’ll definitely have him again.”

Stacks and Exotic Zoo have not quite completed their library tour of Williams County, yet. Tuesday he will be at the Stryker library at 11 a.m. and then the West Unity branch at 3 p.m.

Portman discusses infrastructure, cybersecurity

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) believed a bipartisan deal on infrastructure spending was still possible up to the day President Joe Biden ended talks with a group of Republican Senators.

Biden walked away from talks with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on Tuesday.

Earlier that day, Portman said in a conference call with reporters he believed they could come to a bipartisan agreement.

“I’m fairly confident we can get there because there seems like there is a bipartisan consensus we need to improve infrastructure substantially,” he said. “The proposal that Sen. Capito has been proposing to the White House is a very strong proposal, I support it. It would actually be the strongest infrastructure proposal passed by Congress.”

However, that was before Biden walked away from the negotiations with Capito. Now, Democrats are laying the groundwork to pass some or all of Biden’s ambitious package on their own, with Biden speaking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about using the budget resolution process in the Senate.

That process — which was used by Democrats to pass a COVID-19 relief bill earlier this year and by Republicans to pass tax reforms in 2017 — allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority.

Capito said in a statement she was disappointed Biden ended talks but expressed interest in ongoing bipartisan work.

“While I appreciate President Biden’s willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations, he ultimately chose not to accept the very robust and targeted infrastructure package, and instead, end our discussions,” she said. “However, this does not mean bipartisanship isn’t feasible.”

In fact, Biden began reaching out to other senators for a compromise, including several who were assembled with Portman in his office for a meeting. This group is comprised of members of both parties and has been described as a “back burner” group by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Portman was asked about this group and the backup plan during his conference call Tuesday. At the time there was no plan for when this group would take over negotiations, as he was still supporting Capito prior to her negotiation’s breakdown.

“If (Capito) is not successful, we have to do something in order to avoid the Democrats once again going to reconciliation,” he said. “Infrastructure has always been a bipartisan issue and it’s important that we continue to make it that and come up with sensible ways to provide the necessary improvements to our roads and bridges.”

Portman said it’s important to find a way to fund infrastructure improvements in a sensible way without hurting Ohio citizens.


During his conference call, Portman also spoke about cybersecurity issues, with the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (of which he is the chairman and ranking member) had its first interview with Colonial Pipeline.

Earlier this year, hackers from an affiliate of a Russia-linked cybercrime group known as DarkSide initiated a ransomware attack on the pipeline, resulting in the pipeline temporarily shutting down, causing shortages.

“We found out they did not have some of the basic cybersecurity practices in place and that was discouraging,” he said. “We also talked a lot about what we should do to create more requirements, particularly on critical infrastructure, that they report they have better cybersecurity protections in place, that they have good cyber hygiene practices.”

One piece of legislation would help that and would be voted on as early as Tuesday. Another legislation would update the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.

A third bill would require contractors on critical infrastructure, such as Colonial Pipeline, to report cyberattacks.

“We do have some legislation which would help address what happened with Colonial Pipeline,” Portman said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Father John's brewery operational, looking for chef

Beer is brewing, but they’re not quite cooking yet at Father John’s.

John Trippy, owner of Father John’s in Bryan, said the brewery is up and running and they are having occasional events in the garden.

“We’re just kind of playing around with some food trucks, at the moment,” he said. “We certainly have our feelers out for multiple chefs and right now help and chefs are the holding back factor.”

Finding help, Trippy said, is “interesting.”

“If we had everything set to go tomorrow, where do you find your servers and dishwashers and other workers? It’s an interesting time,” he said. “I’m hoping the next couple of three to six months this whole country will change.”

Once the extra $300 in unemployment stops being paid (in Ohio, that will be at the end of the month), Trippy said he hoped people will decide “to get back to work and get back to normal.”

Right now, he is actively looking for a chef but hasn’t really pushed too hard to find the rest of the staff and helpers.

“I haven’t put the word out because we really need to settle on that perfect chef, that’s the kingpin,” Trippy said. “We have a brewer now that’s doing great. I’m really proud of our brewery.”

This has allowed Father John’s to open up the outdoor garden area for beer with food provided by a food truck.

The hours, though, are dependent on the brewer and are not set in stone. Announcements are made on Father John’s Facebook page.

“The garden is absolutely gorgeous right now,” Trippy said. “(Events have) been absolutely wonderful. People are excited to be back and be in the garden. I think you don’t realize how wonderful things are until they’re gone. So, we’ve had people kind of have a reawakening and thinking, ‘Oh, this is wonderful.’”

The Third Rail

Trippy is still working on his next venture, the Third Rail.

The Third Rail is a collaboration between he and Jon Wheeler, who is acting as managing partner. The idea is to create a 19th century-style saloon at the old Bryan railroad depot.

The project is coming along well, but he didn’t want to give an opening date, although he said it was “very close.”

Montpelier pool opens Thursday

Montpelier Parks Director Nick Ramos pauses for a moment Wednesday as he gets the village pool ready to open today.

MONTPELIER — After being closed last year due to COVID-19, the Montpelier Municipal Pool is set to open today from 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

“I’m ready,” a smiling Jayme Balasko, pool manager, said Wednesday as she kept busy with last minute preparations.

Pool hours are 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $2 for the 1-5 p.m. swim time, and $1 for the 6-8 p.m. swim time. Sunday is generally a busy time for the pool because admission is free to Montpelier residents, and it’s just $1 for nonresidents, Balasko said.

A mechanical issue forced the pool to delay it’s original Monday opening. Village Parks Director Nick Ramos worked with village employees Don Brown and Justin Houk to install a new solenoid on the chlorinator Wednesday to get the pool ready for today’s opening.

It’s part of the ongoing maintenance needed to get the 63-year-old pool ready to open. The 214,000-gallon swimming pool is filled and Ramos said once the swimming pool chlorine levels are set, he’ll begin filling the 2,200-gallon kiddie wading pool. Both opened in Montpelier Municipal Park in 1958.

Wednesday, lifeguards were cleaning and prepping to open and Ramos said he’s hired 11 lifeguards so far. “I’d like to hire at least two more,” he said.

The pool is closed for the July 4th holiday, and closes for the season Aug. 15.

Next door to the pool, the new splash pad is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission is free.