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Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 4:46 PM
— The U.S. government could be headed for a shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass a temporary spending bill.
What would a shutdown mean for those planning domestic or international travel in the coming days or weeks?
First, employees deemed “essential” would remain on the job and that includes
Transportation Security Administration screeners and air traffic controllers. So flight schedules should not be affected by a shutdown.
Those planning international travel would also not be impacted, because passport and visa applications and delivery would still be processed by the State Department.
Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.
But anyone planning travel to a national park or other site maintained by the federal government should be aware that those sites could have limited services.
During past government shutdowns, all national parks have closed, as well as federal museums like the Smithsonian and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
But Department of the Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift told the Associated Press that national parks and outdoor sites would remain open as much as possible. Campgrounds, concessions and other services would be closed she said.
Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park if the government shuts down.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 12:01 PM
WAPAKONETA — A report of a power outage has left people without power in Wapakoneta Saturday.
One person reported that it appeared the whole city was out of power.
Wapakoneta was not available to provide details but confirmed there was an outage.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:33 AM
TURTLECREEK TWP., Warren County — The death of a 62-year old man found dead Friday morning on his neighbor’s property is not considered suspicious.
Neighbors found the man between 10:30 and 11 a.m. in the 800 block of North Nixon Road in Turtlecreek Twp., Lt. Shaun Embleton of Warren County Sheriff’s Office said.
The name of the deceased man was not released Saturday, pending notification of family.
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 12:00 PM
Residents on Herr Road in Bath Twp. say they can’t go outside their homes on days when the smell emanating from a neighboring farm is strong.
The smell they say, started around 2014, when Pitstick Farms started trucking in biosolids and other materials from nearby wastewater treatment plants and turning it into energy and useable fertilizer.
“The stink goes far. Far and wide. And it’s gaggy, sickening. It’s not your typical pig odor,” said Nancy Clevenger, who lives about a half-mile away. “It affects my eyes, my head, my stomach. Those trucks go by my house open-topped … The smell can knock you over.”
STAY CONNECTED: Greene County News on Facebook
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency this month investigated a complaint about odors coming from the farm, but found no violations, according to Ohio EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce.
“Ohio EPA has investigated odor complaints in the past at this location. Past issues were identified with land application of biosolids, which are solid materials that are left over after the digestion process,” Pierce said. “Ohio EPA worked with the facility owners to address those issues and those issues were corrected.”
The owner of the farm, Bath Twp. Trustee Tom Pitstick, said the material that is trucked into the farm comes from wastewater treatment plants in Greene and Butler counties, as well as from Fairborn, Xenia and Yellow Springs.
“Greene County was hauling it to Bellefontaine where it was put in a landfill,” Pitstick said. “It’s now generating electricity, green energy, and being converted to a fertilizer, an excellent fertilizer that is high in organic matter.”
Kassie and Ron Lester live a few houses down from the farm on the other side of Herr Road. They said they have many concerns, not just the smell, but the increased semitrailer traffic which they say is “tearing up the roads,” and when the trucks spill parts of their sloshy loads onto the roadway.
“It’s bringing in commercial waste, it’s bringing in biosolids from other facilities,” Kassie Lester said. “It can cause runoff when it’s applied to the fields. It can get into our groundwater … We’re concerned about the exposure, the risk to all the residents around the fields … We’re worried about our house valuations … Our houses are not worth what they used to be.”
The Lesters filed a zoning complaint with township officials earlier this month, claiming the farm’s agricultural exemption status is not accurate, and that the property should be zoned for commercial/industrial use.
“If this gets into the aquifer, it’s going to effect the city of Dayton,” Kassie Lester said of the concern for the retention pond on the farm that holds all the product after it goes through the biodigester.
The Lesters’ complaint was denied. The attorney representing the township, Greene County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Hayden, wrote the response to the complaint, stating that the state determines what qualifies under zoning codes, and Pitstick Farms operations fall under the agricultural exemption status.
“Contained in the list of agriculturally related exemptions are zoning exemptions for biodiesel production, biomass energy production, electric or heat energy production and biologically derived methan gas production,” Hayden’s email states. “Once a property qualifies for the zoning exemption, there is simply nothing that the township zoning, administrator, the township trustees, the prosecutor’s office or any other county office can do from a zoning perspective.”
Pitstick said the biodigester operation is run by Dovetail Energy, also known as Renergy, Inc., with whom he has a long-term lease agreement. He said the product that comes out is mostly free of pathogens that can cause disease.
Pitstick said there is no real threat of a leak from the lagoon that holds the fertilizer, which he said has 16-inch thick walls of concrete, and a base of 2,000 yards of concrete.
“We are a family operation with my son, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren all involved in the farming operation,” Pitstick said. “We have always tried to be good stewards of the land and find it very hurtful when people who have only lived in the neighborhood a few years spread half truths and outright lies. We are well respected by most of our neighbors and our community.”
Renergy issued a statement in response to the concerns in the neighborhood:
“Renergy is proud of our efforts to make agriculture more sustainable and to make electricity out of materials that would normally go to a landfill and create harmful methane gas. We take our responsibility to our communities and the environment very seriously, and we work with the Ohio EPA. Last year, we diverted enough waste that would have gone to a landfill to generate power to keep lights on in 2,000 homes with renewable energy.”
Pitstick said there are plans to expand the biodigester operations on the farm. The Lesters said they are working with the Ohio EPA to hold a public hearing on the matter next month.
Ohio EPA records
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 11:00 AM
Miami County Family Abuse Shelter leaders are ready to move forward with expansion of the Franklin House in downtown Troy despite continuing opposition to the agency’s plans to demolish an 1830s church for the project.
The debate on the future of the former Trinity Episcopal Church, which is owned by the nonprofit shelter, soon could be in the hands of City Hall when the shelter files for a demolition permit.
Shelter leaders including board president David Beitzel said they have expert opinions from an architect and two structural engineers that the building is in a deteriorated condition and from an expert in historical structures that it is not of historical significance.
They are countered by a group of individuals including leaders of historical organizations calling themselves the Unity for Trinity Committee. The committee said it has expert opinions the structure is of significance, can be repaired and is “fundamentally sound.”
The committee said the church is a community asset and historically important as the only structure left with noteworthy ties to the canal era as the site of an 1837 canal dedication speech by future president William Henry Harrison and with ties to the area’s Underground Railroad system.
The process through the city to get rid of the old church would require two permit applications, Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, said. The applications would go before the city Planning Commission.
The applications would be for a demolition permit, required for structure demolition anywhere in the city.
The second application would be a historic overlay application showing in detail how the applicant plans to use the property involved if demolition is approved.
The planning commission is not required to have a public hearing but staff “would probably recommend there be one” for this project, Titterington said. The commission decision could be appealed to the city Board of Zoning Appeals by a “legitimate interested party” or the applicant.
“To date, we have seen no indication that the Family Abuse Shelter has given careful consideration to alternatives. Many other local nonprofits - among them Partners in Hope, the Miami County Recovery Council, and the St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen - have relocated as their programs have expanded. Family Abuse Shelter officials seem inexplicably opposed to considering alternative sites, despite the concerns shared by neighbors, local historical groups, and the downtown Troy community,” the Unity for Trinity Committee said in a statement Feb. 21.
“Demolishing this very important building would reflect poorly on our city and detract from historic downtown Troy,” the committee said in its statement. “It’s time that the Family Abuse Shelter’s leadership get serious about collaborating with others in the community to reach a solution and address valid concerns that have been raised about their planned expansion.”
The shelter for victims of domestic violence and homeless women was opened in 1979, is full and needs to expand into the proposed new building that would become the domestic violence wing, said Barb Holman, the shelter’s executive director. The church is located to the east of the Franklin House shelter.
“We feel like we have done our due diligence in researching and accessing experts,” she said.
Holman said a new location won’t be considered because of the current shelter home and the proximity of the shelter to the nearby Troy Police Department and county Courthouse, where victims can access services.
Efforts to raise money for the expansion are getting underway while final touches are being placed on plans Homan described as 95 percent complete.
The Unity for Trinity Committee proposed in a packet presented to the shelter in December that it consider moving operations and repairing the church and using it for other purposes.
Holman said a proposed move to a building located adjacent to the railroad tracks was not seen as acceptable in part due to safety concerns for children who stay at the shelter. Beitzel said an offer to give the church to the committee to move wherever it would like still stands.
“It will be very difficult to move the church because it is made of very old bricks, which can be broken when moved. It cannot just be jacked up and transported as many buildings can be moved,” Judy Deeter of the Unity for Trinity committee, said.
Representatives of both groups have met and are scheduled to meet again the week of Feb. 26.
The committee’s online petition is available on the change.org website; search for Troy Historic Buildings.
The abuse shelter has posted documents outlining its position on the expansion on the shelter website at www.familyabuseshelterofmiamicounty.org.