Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Groundbreaking law prohibits wind turbines

By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - Council members made history Monday night by passing unique legislation that bans wind turbines in town.
The new law, which unanimously passed third reading, prohibits the construction of all types of wind turbines, wind chargers and wind generators. It also outlaws any device, apparatus or structure used to convert kinetic energy from wind to produce electricity.
State officials previously told The Daily Standard no ordinance of this kind has been passed by any municipality in the state of Ohio.
Council members have said they may consider exceptions to the law on a case-by-case basis. However, village administrator Ron Gelhaus said the legislation has a purpose.
"It's there to protect the people of the village," he said.
Council members said the new law was discussed months before Cooper Farms, which has a plant in St. Henry, announced in February the construction of two 1.5-megawatt wind turbines at its Van Wert facility. Company officials had said they would consider placing turbines at other plant sites if the initial pair are deemed successful.
Eric Ludwig, director of corporate development at Cooper Farms in Van Wert, today said the company had "no official plans" to put a turbine at the St. Henry plant, but it was a future possibility.
When asked about the new legislation in the village, Ludwig said, "it would be nice to have guidelines instead of restrictions."
Gelhaus said he told plant officials the new law did not specifically target them.
Two years ago, wind energy company NextEra proposed building a large wind turbine farm in the southern portion of Mercer County. By the spring of 2011, the project was nixed due to overwhelming objection from area residents.
Council members on Monday again discussed the possibility of constructing a new swimming pool but took no action. Input on raising the necessary funds is being sought. Income and property tax levies are being considered.
"Our first step is a feasibility study," Gelhaus said. "We need to find out if we have public support."
In other business, police chief Bob Garman is seeking route maps two weeks in advance for all 5K run/walks planned in the village. The purpose is to ensure participants' safety and to maintain adequate traffic routes.
At least seven 5K events are planned within the village this year.
Council members also handled the following issues:
• Learned branch pickup begins Monday and continues on the first business day of every month through fall.
• Learned electric and plumbing work is complete at the new amphitheater in South Park. Officials hope to have the building inspected by mid-April so restrooms can be opened. The structure will be toured by council members prior to the next meeting April 9.
In related news, Gelhaus is seeking quotes for signage to be posted near Boeckman Drive and state Route 118. The signs will advertise various events at South Park and in the village.
• Heard second reading of an ordinance setting compensation for pool and park employees and establishing various fees. Among the changes are a 25 cents per hour salary increase for lifeguards; first-year lifeguards will net $5.50 per hour.
The new pool manager, Kurt Huelsman, will be paid $4,000 this year, per the proposed ordinance. Other changes include an increase of $25 to rent shelter houses number 1, 2 and 4, at a cost of $100, $75 and $150, respectively. A new fee of $25 was created to rent the park gazebo or amphitheater. Other fees are being reduced to encourage the rental of ball diamonds.
• Passed an ordinance to renew a contract with Dayton Power & Light for electrical service.
• Heard first reading on an ordinance to contract with the county for annual ambulance service. The cost is the same as last year, $6,067.50 and cannot exceed $7,814.94.
Additional online stories on this date
ST. MARYS - The hunt for eggs has begun.
Workers at the St. Marys State Fish Hatchery are collecting and fertilizing fish eggs. Some already have hatched. [More]
CELINA - Three straight hits with one out in the bottom of the seventh allowed Celina to open the high school softball season with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over St. Henry on Monday at Bill Feth Diamond at Eastview Park. [More]
Subscriber and paid stories on this date
CELINA - A motion to temporarily reactivate Jefferson Township tornado warning sirens died for lack of a second during a Monday trustee meeting attended by an overflow crowd.
Health department
CELINA - Health officials are contemplating raising fees, cutting hours and services and tapping local communities for funds as government dollars disappear.
Mercer County again leads the state with the lowest unemployment rate.
The county posted a 5.5 percent rate in February, down from 5.6 percent in January. Since January 2011, Mercer County has 11 times tied or solely held the lowest unemployment rate in the state.
ST. MARYS - Members of a local children's drama club are ready to perform and raise bullying awareness, but they need help.
Kidz Drama Klub of Gran
CELINA - Safety service director Tom Hitchcock soon will seek bids for a new pumper/tanker fire truck estimated at $540,000.
City council members on Monday night unanimously authorized Hitchcock to advertise for bids; council will vote on another ordinance to award a contract.
CELINA - Council members on Monday moved forward with legislation to rid the city of properties in poor condition.
Council unanimously passed first
Data will show proof of following new manure rules
MARIA STEIN - Grand Lake Watershed farmers were told to educate themselves about new manure rules, do the best they can and keep good records.
About 120 farmers attended two meetings Monday in Maria Stein to learn what they must do to comply with the new rules that go into effect in January.
Sanitary sewer line replacement
COLDWATER - Village council members Monday evening approved a resolution to apply for a $2 million Water Pollution Control Loan Fund for the village's sanitary sewer line replacement project.
Local Roundup
Compiled by Gary R. Rasberry
Cody Vogel scattered two hits over six innings and the Celina Bulldogs opened the baseball season with an 8-0 shutout win over Fort Recovery on Monday at Montgomery Field.
The District 8 Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Games will be played this week at the Elida Fieldhouse. The girls' All-Star Games will be play