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Springboro OKs combined $9.7 million in street repairs, refinancing

Published: Friday, February 17, 2017 @ 1:54 PM

On Thursday, the Springboro City Council approved contracting with R.A. Miller Construction Co. for more than $1.1 million for repair and resurfacing of local streets, curbs and gutters, sidewalks and driveway aprons.

Streets included in this year's program include Artesian Court, Barley Court, Bentbrook Court, Cedar Hill Lane, Cold Springs Court, Huntley Court, Saddlebrook Court, Woodstream Drive, Parkridge Court, Twincreek Court, Creekview Court, Roundtree Court, Paw Paw Drive, Catalpa Drive, Red Bud Drive, Graham Drive, State Street and King Court.

Property owners are assessed for the curb work.

In addition, the council approved refinancing $8.6 million for road, building and other infrastructure projects.

The council also passed a resolution opposing centralized collection of business net-profit tax returns by the State of Ohio and other municipal income-tax provisions that are in the 2017-2018 State of Ohio budget proposed by Gov. John Kasich.

Additionally, council approved a $259,600 contract with Maguire Iron Inc. for exterior painting and repairs to the water tower on Lytle Five Points Road and a plan for a proposed coffee shop at 860 W. Central Ave.

The council meets at 320 W. Central Ave. Work sessions begin at 6 p.m., formal meetings at 7 p.m.

For more information, call 937-748-4343.

Warren County lodging tax to finance $15M sports complex

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 11:34 AM

            New England Way is across Greentree Road and near the proposed Warren County Sports Park at Union Village. STAFF / LAWRENCE BUDD
New England Way is across Greentree Road and near the proposed Warren County Sports Park at Union Village. STAFF / LAWRENCE BUDD

The lodging tax that funds the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau will be pledged to pay off debt on a $15 million sports complex to be built west of Lebanon.

This morning, the county commissioners agreed to pledge the 3 percent lodgings tax, as well as 1 percent recently added, to fund the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village.

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A portion of the 3 percent is expected to be needed to satisfy holders of the bonds funding the project.

“Whatever is left over they get for their operations,” Deputy County Administrator Martin Russell said.

RELATED: Warren County ups lodgings tax to pay for sports complex

Also, the commissioners voted to transfer the property for the sports complex to the Warren County Port Authority.

The state law enabling the additional 1 percent in lodgings tax was amended to allow the port authority, rather than the county itself, to own the sports complex.

“We had that law changed,” Russell said during a work session with the commissioners.

RELATED: 12,000 residents, $1.5B in investment expected at Union Village

Next Monday, the port authority, an independent board created by the commissioners, is expected to vote to issue more than $15 million in debt to pay for the facility, off Ohio 741 and Greentree Road in Turtlecreek Twp.

“Warren County taxpayers have zero liability,” Commissioner Dave Young said.

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The port authority would turn over operation of the sports complex to the CVB.

Logan County auditor: Hire more deputies to make jail safer

Published: Sunday, September 17, 2017 @ 12:00 PM
Updated: Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 5:41 PM

Logan County Auditor says county can afford to hire more deputies

The Logan County Jail is overwhelmed with inmates, according to the sheriff, but has had trouble with staffing since its budget was cut several years ago.

Now the county auditor says money is available to hire more deputies, but budgets haven’t changed.

Around 2008, county budgets, like many budgets across Ohio, were cut as a response to the Great Recession, Logan County Auditor Michael Yoder said.

RELATED: Clark County inmates charged with riot amid overcrowding complaints

That meant layoffs for the sheriff’s office, Logan County Sheriff Randy Dodds said.

“We’ve never recovered from that,” Dodds said.

The jail has a capacity of about 140 inmates, he said, but after the cuts it held about 70 to 80 inmates with three corrections officers.

But lately, with the heroin epidemic, the jail has been holding many more inmates, he said. At one time it reached nearly 130 inmates, which requires about 5 or 6 corrections officers.

“I’ve had to increase my staffing levels because of safety issues, which causes overtime,” he said. “And a lot of overtime.”

It’s changed how deputies operate, Dodds said.

“We went from a proactive department to a reactive department simply because we just don’t have the staffing,” he said.

The county has since recovered from the recession, Yoder said.

READ MORE: Pods under Clark County Jail closed over security concerns

“The sales tax has gone up dramatically in the last few years, which is great … Overall the economy has just improved in the past few years and we’ve been recipients of that improvement,” he said.

It’s Yoder’s opinion that the county can now afford to hire more deputies.

“It’s a matter of safety as it relates to the sheriff’s office,” he said.

But Yoder said county commissioners have kept budgets flat.

“I believe that many of the counties have increased their budgets since that time, where we’ve pretty much remained flat,” he said.

Logan County commissioners declined to talk to the Springfield News-Sun about the budgets.

DETAILS: Springfield fire, police chiefs to retire, 6 seek to replace them

The reason commissioners have kept budgets flat might be because more cash reserves give the county a better bond rating, Yoder said, making it cheaper for the county needs to borrow money.

“I’m not certain that there’s an awful lot of borrowing that needs to be done at this time,” he said.

Commissioners should spend money responsibly, Logan County Resident Kimberly Kerns said, but she’d support a budget increase for the sheriff’s office.

“They’re our No. 1 priority for our community to keep us safe,” she said of deputies.

If the sheriff’s office had more resources, she said it could help to combat the heroin epidemic.

“That’s our safety and we’ve got to get a hold on this heroin thing,” she said.

Dodds believes the staffing situation will get better. He plans to hire a few more corrections officers soon.

“Budgets are tight and money is tight and I think things will get better in time,” he said.

Decisions on the county budget for next year will be made in the coming months.

Dayton employee accused of metal theft wins job back

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

            David Shaver testifies at his dimissal hearing. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
David Shaver testifies at his dimissal hearing. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A city of Dayton employee who was fired for allegedly selling city-owned scrap metal without authorization and other alleged misconduct has regained his job.

Dayton’s Civil Service Board has ordered the city to reduce David Shaver’s firing to a 10-day suspension after ruling that the electrician did not directly take part in selling scrap metal and the city failed to prove that he violated sick leave and other personnel policies.

The board concluded that the city had a “long-standing culture and practice” of maintaining scrap metal cash funds, which multiple city officials previously denied.

RELATED: Conflicting evidence: Did Dayton workers have off-book cash funds?

Dayton employees at many levels of authority, with many years of service, took part in the sale of excess materials at recycling centers for cash, and the city failed to end the practice despite it being a problem in the past, the board ruled.

Closing arguments in Shaver’s dismissal hearing took place last month after multiple days of testimony.

Shaver was fired last year after a police investigation into an October incident in which city employee William Landis allegedly sold scrap metal at First Street Recycling.

Landis was investigated and faced criminal charges for theft in office, but he was placed in a diversion program and retired as part of a separation agreement with the city.

Shaver was present at the time of the sale but denied receiving any of the cash and said he just accompanied his supervisor to the recycling center.

RELATED: Two city employees out after scrap-metal sales probe

Shaver’s attorney, David Duwel, argued that multiple city departments and supervisors had de facto petty cash funds from scrap metal sales that they used to pay for work-related purchases.

“Why the heck would (my client) think that this was something that was wrong — that he needed to turn his boss in on — even when his division manager is allowing it to go on?” Duwel said.

Duwel’s argument was bolstered by the testimony of a former city of Dayton contractor who said he attended an employee barbecue that he was told was paid for with cash from scrap metal sales.

Former city employee Romona Carver also testified at Shaver’s dismissal hearing that she heard about a small cash fund kept in the plumber’s shop when she moved over to the facilities division.

Shaver testified that Landis, who at one point was his supervisor, and other supervisors kept small cash funds from the sale of city-owned scrap metal that were used to pay for items including a new microwave, refrigerator, tools, equipment and other work-related items.

The Civil Service Board said the evidence that city employees routinely sold leftover scrap material for cash was convincing.

Testimony indicated that the city tried to eliminate the practice in 2008, but it continued on afterward and the city was aware or should have been aware of it, according to the board’s order.

Though the city initiated investigations and criminal charges against some employees who sold scrap materials without authorization, the city did not formulate precise rules with precise examples to effectively end the practice, the board said.

RELATED: Conflicting testimony: Did Dayton workers have off-the-books cash funds?

During the dismissal hearing, some city of Dayton officials — including a department director, a supervisor and the assistant city manager — rejected the idea that departments were permitted to keep off-the-books cash funds and condemned the idea that employees would not report the inappropriate activity.

During rebuttal testimony, the city’s director of central services Pete Hager said Carver’s testimony was stunning and she would face discipline if she were not already retired.

RELATED: Contractor: Dayton used scrap-metal money for barbecues, equipment

“My reaction to that news is that I’d like to see her somewhere as well regarding this issue, in terms of discipline, in terms of accountability,” Hager said.

City policy is clear on how scrap metal should be recycled and what should be done with the money, and past employees were fired and faced other consequences for inappropriately taking city-owned materials, said Norma Dickens, senior attorney with the city of Dayton.

Residents claim First Amendment violations on trustee’s Facebook page

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

            A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of five Hamilton Twp. residents claims Trustee David Wallace Jr. violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses to communicate with residents about township business.
A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of five Hamilton Twp. residents claims Trustee David Wallace Jr. violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses to communicate with residents about township business.

A township trustee running for re-election in Warren County has unblocked Facebook critics since the filing of a federal lawsuit claiming he prevented residents from commenting on his trustee site on the social network.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of five Hamilton Township residents who claim David Wallace Jr. violated the First Amendment when he blocked them from commenting on a Facebook page he uses for township business.

Wallace is one of seven candidates running for two seats on the three-seat board of trustees in the booming township, south of Lebanon.

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Also running are Darryl Cordrey, Cadi Kelly, Nathan Myers, Joe Rozzi, Roxan Tarnowski and Kim Lukens.

The lawsuit is related to his management of a Facebook site where he interacts with residents about village issues, but which also features re-election materials. He also has another web page devoted to his campaign.

MORE: Huber Heights candidates speak out on Facebook fights

The lawsuit, claiming First Amendment violations, is filed in U.S. District Court for Lisa Wilson, Danny Wilson, Kathryn Wuest, Kyle Riley and Amanda Johnson.

“Recently, a federal court in Virginia found that a local politician had violated the First Amendment when she temporarily banned a constituent from commenting on her Facebook page. This case raises substantially similar issues,” Joshua Engel, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said in comments posted on his law firm’s website.

MORE: Dayton police called about woman posting about boyfriend on Facebook

This morning, Lisa Wilson said she also had been unblocked, but that others were still unable to comment on the site.

Also this morning, Mike Stine, who is not a party in the lawsuit, indicated he had been unblocked since the lawsuit was filed.

“Also thanks for unblocking me, I know it took some people to file a lawsuit so that I can contact you, one of our elected trustees,” Stine said in a post on the Facebook page in question.

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This morning, Engel indicated the lawsuit would not be withdrawn because of Wallace unblocking critics.

“We won’t be dropping the suit because we can’t confirm what he has done to unblock people and, more importantly, we need to make sure this is not done in the future,” Engel said this morning via email.

Wallace did not respond to requests for a response and has not responded to the lawsuit, filed on Sept. 5.

Staff writer Richard Wilson contributed to this report.