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ELECTION 2017: 4 running for Kettering School Board

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 1:05 PM

4 running for Kettering School Board
4 running for Kettering School Board

There are four candidates running for three seats on the Kettering School Board.

Jim Ambrose and Julie Gilmore are running for re-election to the board against challengers Edward Breen and Darren Cooper.

We asked all four candidates what they would do if elected. Here’s some of their answers:

Q: What are the 3 biggest challenges facing the school district? How would you deal with them?

Jim Ambrose: School districts across Ohio are dealing with the continuing problem of funding public schools and balancing the budget in light of dwindling State funding assistance. Both the state and federal government have limited sources of funding over the past 5 years or so in such a fashion that districts are compelled to do more with less financial support.

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I, as a present board member, have seen first-hand how difficult it is to initiate some programs while de-emphasizing others. There are no easy answers, only challenges to be confronted and we are doing well at that by implementing creative and unique funding/levy efforts. Addressing the educational needs of our children in a forever changing technological and socio-economic landscape has been a high priority of this board. The dynamics of Kettering families have changed over the last several years, so therefore our teachers and administrators are confronted with addressing those changes in order to assure a solid educational basis for those students.

These goals are being met with collaboration and planning. Measuring student success and teacher effectiveness on an annual changing “State scale” is akin to hitting a moving target. School boards are being challenged to predict what next will be required by the State of Ohio almost on a yearly basis. This causes much stress and uncertainty with students, staff and administrators. The board must provide the tools and training to assist our teachers and administrators.

Edward F. Breen: The first is funding for future needs in a fluctuating economy. The state legislature is giving less money to school districts. The school district therefore must come up with alternate ways to maintain the high level of education that the city has become known for. The second is to keep our students safe from the encroaching violence and danger that prevails in our society today. The third is keeping the educational experience up to date and in sync with modern technology and cultural changes. I will work with the board to overcome any of the problems and challenges that the district faces.

Darren Cooper: After 30 years of volunteer service to various school districts, I have learned about the dangers of the distances between Kettering, Columbus and Washington. Governmental mandates make for bad government, not good education policy. Kettering citizens should decide what is best for Kettering students, not some Washington bureaucrat! We must be able to meet the current and future fiscal challenges in running a quality school district. Maybe the most important challenge of all in Kettering is to produce good students and good citizens.

Julie Ann Gilmore: Working to maintain continuous voter support is essential. As a board member I push for a varied and challenging curriculum that meets all student needs in a fiscally responsible manner. We must be aware of changing socio/economic conditions within our student body. Dealing with changing issues is a challenge, but we have set up support groups (Partners for Healthy Youth, Back-Pack Program, Special Counselor knowledgeable about the many county programs, working closely with the City in establishing summer and after-school programs and activities) Assessing, identifying and selecting locations of facilities needed to provide all-day kindergarten and expanded Career Tech programs for the district. We are currently involved in a Strategic Plan process for the district in which I am directly involved.

RELATED: Learn more about the candidates for Kettering School Board

Q: What makes you qualified to be on the school board and gives you an advantage over other candidates?

Jim Ambrose: I have been on the Kettering School Board since 2012, serving on several standing committees including the Insurance Committee, the Athletic Board of Control, the Safety Committee, and the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Each committee brings with it a unique understanding of core issues and the need to “think outside the box.” My experience as a trial lawyer for more than 4 decades representing people who have been or will be directly impacted by the effectiveness of their education, and in particular reading, makes me qualified and passionate about education. The difference between a “good citizen” and one not so good, is quite often the degree of educational success and achievement one obtained. Those who can read and comprehend are far more likely to perform well in society than those who do not. We, as a board, have a duty and a reasonable expectation to provide a free, effective, and relevant education to every child in this district. It is my desire to continue to serve our taxpayers and make a difference in the lives of our children.

Edward F. Breen: After teaching 23 plus years I want to stay in the education community. I understand what it means to be a teacher in this changing educational climate and will represent their viewpoints. I enjoy working with students and their families. I also will be their voice on the school board. With my strong political background I can help facilitate issues and values and bring city and school together. I have a strong desire to maintain our current excellence in education status and to strive for continued excellence in the future.

Darren Cooper: My strong background in finance provides an advantage in dealing with budgets and other fiscal matters. My financial planning practice had nearly 1,000 state teachers and administrators as clients. Over the years, I listened to them carefully and I learned a lot. This gives me a great advantage in understanding the needs of the personnel in our district, as well as the needs of our students.

Julie Ann Gilmore: In my role as a current Kettering School board member, as an experienced Kettering classroom teacher, and as a volunteer in the Kettering community, I have contributed to the improvement of educational opportunities for all Kettering students. It is my hope to be able to continue making a difference.

Q: What is your top priority if elected?

Jim Ambrose: My top priority is to continue to work toward providing an excellent school district for our children. Over these past 5 years, I probably have learned more about public education demands than I ever thought possible. I believe I am making a difference in our district and have grown to not only appreciate our employees and their vision and passion, but also the mechanics of growing, developing, and nurturing a truly excellent school district. We are fortunate to have teachers, administrators, and staff who collectively care about our district’s children and the community as a whole. I believe I have more to lend to our schools and look forward to serving again. We need, now more than ever, individuals who truly care about what is best for our educational system and what action needs to be taken to implement this goal. Presently, our board’s enactment of a long range strategic plan is the most prudent and logical approach to operate an effective and dynamic school district. This method involves people/citizens from all walks of life willing to come together in a collaborative spirit to address challenges confronting our educational system. Their collective experiences and wisdom broadens the choices and approaches that will be utilized over the next 5 years or so.

Edward F. Breen: School board members have needed to become more involved and familiar with the community and its changing needs. With the evolving dynamic of our city’s population and the rift in some of our student’s family support system, elected officials must be more compassionate and open minded, as they deal with issues that were not common in the past. Problems such as cyberbullying, drugs, and guns are a part of our school district and school board members must become more aware of these problems and come up with methods and solutions that will keep these types of behaviors out of our schools.

Darren Cooper: Our top priority in Kettering Schools is producing good students and good citizens. This includes preparation for the work force, as well as for college.

Julie Ann Gilmore: My top priority has always been involvement in curriculum committee work, and knowledge of the school district by attending many functions at all schools. With this in mind, my priority will be to continue to make a difference in the educational opportunities of all our students.

Waynesville school issue passed by 7 votes, recount ahead

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 6:00 PM


            Passage of Issue 19 would repay debt on bonds issued to finance more than $26.5 million in funds used to build a new Waynesville Elementary School, turn the 1915 Building, a former school building pictured here, into a community center and improve parking and other infrastructure on the Wayne Local Schools’ complex off Dayton Road.
Passage of Issue 19 would repay debt on bonds issued to finance more than $26.5 million in funds used to build a new Waynesville Elementary School, turn the 1915 Building, a former school building pictured here, into a community center and improve parking and other infrastructure on the Wayne Local Schools’ complex off Dayton Road.

Voters in the Warren County portion of the Wayne Local School District passed a 4.68 mill, 37-year bond issue by seven votes in the Nov. 7 election, according to results tallied on Tuesday by the Warren County Board of Elections.

The 1,241-1,234 result still triggers a recount scheduled for next Tuesday in Lebanon, according to Brian Sleeth, director of the county election board.

RELATED: 2 vote margin in Wayne Local school issue

“We’re not going to feel 100 percent relaxed or confident until it’s been officially certified,” Superintendent Patt Dubbs said. “We’re ahead. That’s a good thing.”

On Wednesday, the Greene County Board of Elections is expected to certify the results on the Wayne Local issue in its portion of the district.

Greene County is also expected to recount, although there are fewer votes at issue.

Election night tallies were 1,226 to 1,225 in Warren County, 11 to 10 in the small piece of the district in Green County- leaving only a two-vote margin.

Tuesday’s final count widens the margin, with only a relatively small number of votes to be counted in Greene County.

MORE: Results in 8 closest area races in Nov. 7 election

Passage of Issue 19 would repay debt on bonds issued to finance more than $26.5 million in funds used to build a new Waynesville Elementary School, turn the 1915 Building, a former school building, into a community center and improve parking and other infrastructure on the Wayne Local Schools’ complex off Dayton Road.

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Recounts are also scheduled in races for Deerfield Twp. trustee and Franklin Board of Education.

The results tallied Tuesday showed Lonnie Vestal with 2,224 and Bill Lantry with 2,197 in the race for the seat on the Deerfield Twp. Board of Trustees.

And in a race for the Franklin school board, Bob Knipper was leading Dennis G. Dwyer, 1,371-1,363.

But in the race for Franklin City Council, Matt Wilcher edged Carl Bray, 850-838 and no recount will be held, Sleeth said.

Cheetahs nixed in zoo plans for Warren County, official says

Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 @ 10:07 AM


            Cincinnati Zoo cheetah running during a photo shoot for Natiional Geographic Magazine. FILE
Cincinnati Zoo cheetah running during a photo shoot for Natiional Geographic Magazine. FILE

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has set aside plans to move its cheetah recovery center to Warren County, but is moving forward with improvements to a farm and wetlands area already operating here, according to the county’s chief zoning official.

“They’re not going to build the cheetah breeding facility. That’s off the table,” Mike Yetter, zoning supervisor in Warren County said Tuesday.

RELATED: Zoo studying different location for cheetahs in Warren County

Yetter, who reviews plans for developments in unincorporated areas of Warren County, made these comments while sharing details of plans by the zoo to add and improve barns and make other improvements to the EcoFarm on Mason-Montgomery Road.

RELATED: Zoo, others developing between Cincinnati, Dayton

Zoo officials did not immediately respond to questions about the change of plans regarding the cheetah recovery center move from a facility east of Cincinnati in in Clermont County or improvements to the former Bowyer Farm property in Turtlecreek Twp., Warren County.

RELATED: Cheetah center in Warren County to offer close encounters

Plans for a new barn, a wall, a solar-powered pit toilet and other improvements are detailed in documents filed with zoning and building officials in Warren County.

In January, the zoo put on hold plans to move its cheetah facility from the Mast Farm in Clermont County to another farm at the corner of Nickel and Hamilton roads, while considering a different site.

The zoo questioned steps sought for safety by the county.

RELATED: Cheetah conservationists live in Warren County

The facility was to be built near the home of Cathryn Hilker, a cheetah conservationist who pioneered the zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program.

Why Montgomery County water, sewer customers will pay more

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 8:51 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 4:06 PM

Crews work on the Hillcrest sewer replacement project in Montgomery County. PROVIDED
PROVIDED
Crews work on the Hillcrest sewer replacement project in Montgomery County. PROVIDED(PROVIDED)

Water and sewer customers receiving service through Montgomery County will see their combined rate climb an average 14 percent in 2018 and go up 5.6 percent each year after through 2022, the county announced Thursday.

The increase is needed because of deteriorating infrastructure resulting in higher costs for maintenance and needed new construction with little foreseeable state or federal funding, officials said.

The average Montgomery County residential customer, now paying about $170, will see quarterly bills rise about $24 in 2018.

“It may appear to be a relatively large increase,” County Administrator Joe Tuss said. “But when you look at where we’ve been from an historic standpoint, it’s about catching up and generating the revenue we need to invest.”

MORE: Report claims Ohio one of worst states for water quality offenses

While Montgomery County purchases water pumped by the city of Dayton, the county maintains a distribution system of 1,400 miles of water mains as well as 1,200 miles of sewer line and two wastewater plants.

The system provides drinking water and fire prevention for about 250,000 residents. Most customers are in Centerville, Harrison Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Riverside, Trotwood and Washington Twp.

“Like many systems across the country, we have an aging system, and this rate increase is necessary to help us replace and maintain our water and sewer system,” said Tuss. “We had low or no rate increases for eight years, and we just can’t put this off any longer.”

Montgomery County rate increases have averaged about 2.5 percent since 2007, which is below the state average of 4 percent, according to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency data.

Officials estimate about $750 million will need to be spent over the next 20 years to maintain and replace aging portions of the system.

MORE: Are the drugs we’re taking — and flushing down the toilet — hurting our water?

A larger portion of a customer’s bill will be the fixed charge, going from 20 percent to 40 percent, while consumption charges move from 80 to 60 percent. The increased fixed charge will provide more stable, long-term financing needed to upgrade and maintain the system the county values at $3.1 billion, said Pat Turnbull, the county’s Environmental Services director.

Turnbull said the county is routinely experiencing 300 or more water main breaks a year — spending about $2 million annually to fix — on the system primarily installed 60-70 years ago.

“The water mains are breaking more frequently. The sewer lines are cracking more frequently,” he said. “We are just reaching that point — similar to the roof on your house — when you’re having to patch leaks all the time, you get to a place where it’s time to put a new roof on”

Officials say two large projects are required to ensure that tens of thousands of customers aren’t at risk of losing water or sewer service.

A $65-85 million replacement and upgrade of the main sewer line and pump station to the Western Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant is planned. The 40-year-old sewer line and pump station is the only sanitary service for more than 83,000 residential and business customers.

The county also plans an additional water feed that provides drinking water and fire protection for 150,000 customers in Centerville, Jefferson Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Moraine and Washington Twp. Cost of the project is estimated to be $76-118 million.

More: Greene County officials respond to water bill complaints

In addition to the loss of revenue because of decreasing water consumption, federal dollars that once paid for up to 90 percent of plant construction have gone away almost entirely, Turnbull said.

“Those grant dollars have gone away over the last couple of decades, and we do not see a replacement funding source on the horizon from the federal or state level,” he said. “So these dollars have to be generated locally primarily, and that would be in the form of rates.”

Montgomery County water rate presentations

Presentations will be made at regular township and city council meetings.

- Butler Twp., 7 p.m., Nov. 27

Township Hall, 3780 Little York Rd., Dayton, OH 45414

- Centerville, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20

Municipal Building, 100 West Spring Valley Rd., Centerville, OH 45458

- Clayton, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 7

Government Center, 6996 Taywood Rd., Englewood, OH 45322

- Harrison Twp., Noon, Nov. 16

Township Offices, 5945 North Dixie Dr., Dayton, OH 45414

- Jefferson Twp., 7 p.m., Dec. 5

Administration Building, One Business Park Dr., Dayton, OH 45417

- Kettering, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 14

Government Center, 3600 Shroyer Rd., Dayton, OH 45429

- Miami Township, 6 p.m., Nov. 28

Township Offices, 2700 Lyons Rd., Miamisburg, OH 45342

- Moraine, 6 p.m., Dec. 14

Municipal Building, 4200 Dryden Rd., Moraine, OH 45439

- Trotwood, 6 p.m., Nov. 20

Trotwood-Madison City Schools Board of Education Meeting Chambers, 3594 N. Snyder Road, Trotwood, OH 45426

- Washington Twp., 7:30 p.m., Dec. 4

Township Offices, 8200 McEwen Road, Dayton, OH 45458

Find your new rate

If you receive water and sewer service from Montgomery County you can get more information as well as estimate your new quarterly bill using an online rate calculator at www.mcohio.org/water.

Ex-village worker sues state, claims malicious prosecution

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 3:20 PM
Updated: Sunday, November 12, 2017 @ 2:44 PM


            Ohio Auditor Dave Yost
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost

The former fiscal officer for New Madison is suing the Ohio Auditor of State, claiming malicious prosecution after theft-in-office charges against the former village accountant were dismissed.

Wanda Lacey on Oct. 25 filed a lawsuit against the state auditor’s office in which she accused the auditor’s office of seeking felony theft-in-office charges against her despite having insufficient evidence .

The lawsuit, filed in the Ohio Court of Claims, seeks unspecified damages exceeding $100,000.

Lacey was indicted by a grand jury in December 2016 on two counts of theft in office after the auditor’s office concluded that an audit found she stole more than $21,500 from the township. The charges were dropped in September 2017.

RELATED: Village fiscal officer ‘negligent’ but theft in office charges dropped

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost said Friday that the case was dismissed without prejudice because new evidence was discovered.

“The state anticipates the case will be re-filed after the newly discovered evidence has been analyzed,” he said. “The claim of malicious prosecution is without merit and will fail. A grand jury considered the evidence and found probable cause to believe that the crimes had been committed by the person charged.”

Royce Link, Lacey’s attorney, said the auditor’s office investigator mistakenly determined the money as missing without doing due diligence to find it in the village’s books.

“Whether she was just overly zealous, new to the job and wanted to make an impression and get somebody, whether she actually did not like Wanda Lacey, whether somebody else who worked in the village told her some stuff that set her on fire against her, those are the types of reasons why a person would do that,” Link said when asked why the state auditor’s office would falsely accuse his client.

RELATED: Ex-New Madison village worker accused of stealing more than $20K while in office

The charges resulted in Lacey losing her job, suffering physically and mentally and damaging her reputation, he said.

“You get charged with theft in office as an accountant, that’s pretty much going to make it hard to get a job,” he said.

While the theft charges were dropped, a separate audit released Thursday included an administrative finding against Lacey for not paying village taxes on time, incurring $8,166 in fees. Lacey and her bonding company were jointly ordered to repay the money.

Yost issued a statement, along with the audit, saying Lacey’s “negligence” cost village taxpayers money.

Link said Yost’s comments were an attempt to “mitigate the exposure” from Lacey’s lawsuit.

MORE LOCAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE NEWS:

Local jails overcrowded, failing safety standards, investigation shows

Sheriffs fear state plan will flood jails with felons