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Northwestern investigating allegations against superintendent

Published: Saturday, December 09, 2017 @ 3:40 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 3:54 PM

Northwestern School Board investigating alleged unprofessional conduct

The Northwestern Local Schools board of education is investigating allegations against its superintendent of unprofessional conduct, according to a statement from the board’s attorney.

“The superintendent is aware of the investigation and is not reporting to work to allow for a thorough and expeditious investigation,” the statement says. “Once the investigation has been completed, the board will take whatever action it deems is in the best interests of the district and the students it serves.”

Superintendent Jesse Steiner stopped reporting to work on Nov. 26, according to school board President Donna Myers. She declined to give any further details on the reason for the investigation.

Steiner couldn’t be reached for comment on Saturday.

He was hired by the district in June 2015 following the departure of Tony Orr who became superintendent of Hamilton City Schools.

Before coming to Northwestern, Steiner served as superintendent of Celina City Schools since 2012. Before that he was superintendent of the Hicksville Exempted Village district in Defiance County for two years.

High school principal Lori Swafford is second in command at the district and therefore will fill in for Steiner, Myers said.

Northwestern’s long-time treasurer David Bollheimer announced his retirement in mid-November. He’s been with the district for 27 years and will leave at the end of the month.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Superintendent Jesse Steiner’s work status.

Another meteor? Reports come in of bright flash across Ohio, Ind. night sky

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 1:21 AM

Photo by Pexels
Photo by Pexels

Another meteor may have lit up the sky late Wednesday night.

Several reports have come into our newsroom of a bright flash that shot across the sky just before midnight. People from Englewood, Marysville and Randolph County, Ind. have said they saw the bright flash, with some saying it was bright blue or blue/green.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

The American Meteor Society received several reports of a meteor in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky.

A meteor was spotted in Ohio, Michigan and Canada late Tuesday. 

>> VIDEOS: Meteor spotted in Ohio, Michigan, Canada

New Carlisle Council seeks tax increase for fire/EMS

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 7:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:45 PM

New Carlisle’s city council is holding special meetings this month to draft legislation for a 3 mill tax levy for the city’s Fire/EMS department. Bill Lackey/Staff
New Carlisle’s city council is holding special meetings this month to draft legislation for a 3 mill tax levy for the city’s Fire/EMS department. Bill Lackey/Staff

UPDATE @ 9:45 p.m.

New Carlisle City Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to move forward with a levy request to fund the city’s fire and emergency medical services.

Fire Chief Steve Trusty and council members discussed the city’s fire department challenges, including low pay for personnel and rising equipment costs.

The most recent tax increase approved by voters was a half-percent income tax hike in 2015, which moved the tax rate from 1 to 1.5 percent.

If certified by the Clark County Auditor’s Office, the 3-mill, five-year levy would be placed on the May 8 ballot. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $105 a year, if approved, and would not start to be collected until 2019.

FIRST REPORT

New Carlisle’s City Council members will vote Wednesday on a proposed property tax increase to support the city’s fire and EMS department.

Council members will discuss the details of the levy and vote at a special meeting at 7 p.m. in the Smith Park Shelter House. The meeting is open to the public.

READ MORE: New Carlisle gets new mayor amid controversy, accusations

If approved by the council, a 3-mill, five-year levy will be placed on the May 8 ballot. For a $100,000 home in Ohio, each mill costs $35, so a 3-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $105 per year.

If passed, the additional tax would take effect in 2019.

The proposed additional property tax would be used for equipment and salaries, said Fire Chief Steve Trusty, who declined to discuss other details of the levy until after Wednesday’s meeting.

The city’s current 10-mill limitation is “insufficient and inadequate for the necessary requirements of the city of New Carlisle,” the ordinance for the proposed levy says.

The levy would be used to provide and maintain fire equipment and buildings, establish and maintain fire alarm communications, pay personnel and purchase ambulance equipment, the ordinance says.

“It’s definitely needed,” New Carlisle Mayor Ethan Reynolds said. “We haven’t had new money in quite some time.”

MORE: Election 2017: New Carlisle income tax change results

The price of fire equipment has risen, Reynolds said, and without changes in the tax collected, money has been tighter within the department.

“The citizens of New Carlisle value a responsible fire department, and Chief Trusty been able to do that with the money we have,” Reynolds said. “But, unfortunately, with prices rising, it’s more difficult.”

The most recent tax increase voters approved in New Carlisle was a half-percent income tax hike in 2015, which bumped the city’s income tax rate from 1 to 1.5 percent. That tax hike initially failed when it was put on the ballot in November 2014, prompting the city to make major budget cuts.

MORE: New Carlisle business to begin up to $8M expansion

The additional revenue from the passage of the income tax allowed the city to pay for police protection that had been reduced after it failed the first time.

In 2017, New Carlisle voters rejected a proposed tax change that would have exempted New Carlisle residents who work in other cities from paying New Carlisle’s income tax.

Had it passed, the proposal, which made it to the ballot via a citizen petition, could have potentially devastated New Carlisle’s finances, city leaders said.

Wednesday’s special meeting will be the second held this month. Last Wednesday, Jan. 10, the council introduced the proposed levy and appointed a new Clerk of Council.

MORE: Ronald Cobb wins New Carlisle Council seat after lengthy recount

The council voted unanimously to appoint Emily Brenner to the clerk position. Brenner will replace former Clerk of Council Gene Collier, who announced he would retire from the position in December.

Brenner was sworn in at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Hippo Kiss: Fiona’s smooch on canvas can be yours

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:04 PM



Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
(Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden)

In celebration of the first birthday of Fiona — the premature hippopotamus who beat the odds and captured hearts around the globe — fans will get a chance to win a one-of-a-kind “Hippo Kiss” painting, and become an official Fiona parent.

>> Fiona the hippo turns 1: Cincinnati Zoo plans birthday bash

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is marking Fiona’s first birthday with a special ADOPT (Animals Depend on People Too) promotion. ADOPT parents help provide food, toys and fun enrichment items to the zoo’s animal family.

>> One thing answered by Fiona The Hippo’s show: How did she get her name?

Anyone who “adopts” Fiona will be entered into a drawing to win “Hippo Kiss,” the purple peck on canvas created by Fiona herself.

Fiona’s First Birthday ADOPT promotion ends Feb. 7, and the drawing is at noon Feb. 8. The winner will be contacted directly, according to the zoo.

Clark County approves 2 percent raises for workers

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:30 PM


            Clark County offices. Bill Lackey/Staff
Clark County offices. Bill Lackey/Staff

Clark County commissioners approved raises for some county employees that will cost more than $200,000.

The increase will be paid to non-collective bargaining unit employees who report to the commissioners. Union employees received a similar raise already, County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.

“Unemployment is low and everyone is competing for the good, quality workers and the competition is getting tougher,” Lohnes said. “The union contracts had included raises and we are trying to keep everyone on par and treat them like everyone else as long as we can.”

MORE: Clark County will examine cuts with projected $2M deficit in 2019

The cost of living increase will cost the county about $243,000 this year, according to county records. There are 142 employees that will get a raise due to the approval.

Keeping quality employees is a top priority, Lohnes said. Clark County employees saw an increase in their health-care premiums last year so the raise will help with those additional expenses, he said.

Clark County Commissioners Melanie Flax-Wilt and Lowell McGlothin both voted for the raises and said in the meeting they support them because the county employees deserve them.

The decision to give raises became more complicated after a shortfall of revenue.

The county is projected to generate about $38 million in revenue next year, down from about $39.4 million this year. The reduced revenue is directly related to the loss of about $1.2 million due to federal changes to sales taxes this year, Clark County Administrator Jenny Hutchinson previously said. The federal government ended the state’s collection of sale taxes on services from Medicaid managed-care organizations such as Dayton-based CareSource.

“You can definitely tell when that change occurred,” she said.

Clark County collected about $3 million in Medicaid Health Insuring Corp. sales taxes annually, according to state data — making up more than 12 percent of its $23.5 million sales tax revenue.

READ: Tax changes means cuts to county, Clark County sheriff’s offices

County commissioners didn’t vote on the 2018 budget on Wednesday. Hutchinson told commissioners the budget should be ready for approval soon.

Future raises are uncertain with all the changes happening outside of the county’s control, Lohnes said.

“We saved enough money that we can offer the standard 2 percent, however, we don’t know how long that is going to last,” he said.

Commissioners needs to make sure they’re making the best decisions so the county is prepared for 2020, he said.

“We know that after 2018, we will be suffering the $3.1 million loss from that special Medicaid sales tax issue,” Lohnes said. “But we got some money from the state and that will cover us through 2018, summer of 2019.”

EXTRA: Clark County employees will see health care cost increase in 2018

Clark County will probably be OK through this next budget cycle, he said.

“In 2019, when we are doing the 2020 budget, that’s when things can get thin,” Lohnes said.

Commissioners remain hopeful that regular sales tax revenues will continue to raise so decisions made then might be easier.

“We are hoping as we change the way we spend money and regular sales tax will continue to rise — which it has — so the budget in 2020 won’t be so bad,” he said.

2 percent: The raises given to non-union employees by Clark County.

$243,000: The cost of giving the raises to non-union Clark County employees.

$40.8 million: Amount Clark County is projected to spend in 2018.