SOLSD To Rotate Locations of Monthly Board Meeting

The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) generally holds its monthly regular session Board of Education meeting at the school offices on Mill St. in Woodsfield. However, that schedule is about to change.

In an effort to branch out to different communities within the district, the SOLSD administration and board decided that being present in those communities would be the way to do it.

In a press release announcing the changes, the district stated, “As most of you know, SOLSD is the largest geographic district in the state of Ohio; and this creates countless logistical challenges as we try to manage our operations. One of these challenges involves how we communicate with our district stakeholders in the many attendance areas we serve. We realize many of you simply cannot make the trip to Central Office.”

Wisvari Becomes School Improvement Coordinator; Tolzda New Principal at Powhatan

The hiring of new superintendent John Hall headlined the special Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) Board of Education meeting held on Aug. 21 (see front page article). However, several other important orders of business took place after an uneventful regular session meeting was held on Aug. 15.

Several personnel moves have transformed the district this summer. During the Aug. 21 meeting, board members continued to make changes.

Powhatan Elementary Principal Curtis Wisvari was removed from his position and reassigned to the new position of School Improvement Coordinator. Wisvari will be based at Swiss Hills Career Center and will work with Norma Rucker, who currently acts as Federal Funds Coordinator and is set to retire after this year.

While the position is a new position, Treasurer Lance Erlwein said it is extremely vital that Mr. Wisvari trains with Mrs. Rucker so he can make sure the district does everything necessary to meet federal requirements on $2 million in annual federal funding. Erlwein also noted that 25% of Wisvari's salary will be paid through that federal grant.

Wisvari will have several job responsibilities such as: “ensuring that professional development support is planned, implemented and monitored;” “coordinating the implementation of federal monies;” “planning and coordinating program activities aligned to program budgets;”etc. The long-term goal is for Wisvari to step into the role of Federal Funds Coordinator.

Also announced during the meeting was Wisvari's replacement at Powhatan Elementary. Taking over the helm as principal will be Casey Tolzda, who taught at Beallsville Elementary last year. Tolzda said of the opportunity to act as principal at Powhatan, “I'd like to thank the school board for the opportunity. I have a lot of roots in Powhatan, and I'm excited about the opportunity. I look forward to working with the teachers, students and community there.”

Candidates Certified for Nov. 5 Election

Candidates were certified this week for the Nov. 5 general election, and key battles in the county are taking shape. One issue is sure to open up much debate in the county while incumbents on two government boards will see stiff competition.

As in the past two elections, the hot button topic will be the proposed Additional Tax Levy for the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District. While previous attempts to pass a levy have failed, the March, 2013 vote saw the district gain ground from the November, 2012 vote.

Other tax levies on the ballot include an Additional Tax Levy for Antoich village, a Replacement Tax Levy (with an increase) for Beallsville village, and Renewal levies for Clarington village and Salem Township.

The most contested race will be that for Woodsfield village council. Pressure on the incumbents will be somewhat eased by the retirement of current councilwoman Pauline Delbrugge. Delbrugge has elected not to seek re-election.

Even with Delbrugge dropping from the race, there will be eight candidates (including three incumbents) to fill only four spots. Incumbents seeking re-election are Mike Cox, Dale E. English, and Carol Hehr. Those challenging the three will be Susan Cunion, Eric S. Kilburn, Joseph W. Long, Rick Shipp and Jimmy Williams. 

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Woodsfield Man Charged With 46 Counts of Child Rape

 

Set to be arraigned on Tues., Aug. 13 was Marcus A. Moats, 24, of Woodsfield. After alleged criminal activity was brought to the attention of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office last week, Moats was arrested on charges of the rape of a child.

“Initially [Moats] was arrested on 11 counts, but after a review of the criminal complaint by the prosecuting attorney, Moats was charged with a total of 46 counts on the indictment,” said Monroe County Sheriff Chuck Black.

All of the alleged incidents took place with the child of Moat's live-in girlfriend.

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200-250 Workers Face Layoff, Two Potlines to Close at Ormet

Ormet employees, facing uncertainty during the company's bankruptcy process, will take a hit after developments last week. According to Ormet CEO Mike Tanchuck, somewhere between 200-250 layoffs will take place as two of the company's four operating potlines are shut-down to keep the company operable as a debate on utility costs continues.

Tanchuck said that one of the potlines is half-way through the shut-down process and should be shut-down this week. The other potline is expected to be shut-down next week if all goes as scheduled. The closures mean a diminished need for labor, leading to the new layoffs.

The Hannibal plant will be operating at one-third capacity with the closures as two potlines had already been closed last year causing layoffs then as well. It can take three to four months to re-open a potline, and it is an expensive process.

“We have done everything we could to avoid this [more layoffs],” Tankchuck said. He added that most of the major pieces of the bankruptcy and Wayzata Investments' buy-out of Ormet have already been approved by the bankruptcy judge. However, one final piece is holding up the process: the cost of utilities.

The latest moves by the company came as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) denied emergency action on behalf of Ormet. The company was denied an emergency hearing with the commission and will not have its case heard until Aug. 27.

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Michelle Kurtz Given Jail Time, Community Control in Jerusalem Theft Case

Former Jerusalem Village Clerk Michelle M. Kurtz was sentenced on July 29 for one count of Theft in Office. The sentence, handed down by Monroe County Court of Common Pleas Judge Julie R. Selmon, will require that Kurtz spend six months in local incarceration (90 days of which were suspended) and three years on Community Control Sanctions. Kurtz will likely spend her jail time at the Belmont County Correctional Facility.

Kurtz had originally been indicted on August 16 of 2012 for theft committed against the village of Jerusalem during the time period of January 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012. At the time, Kurtz was indicted on one third degree felony count of Theft in Office for the theft of $13,202 and a count of falsifying records.

In a move that allowed her to avoid a trial and come to a plea bargain, Kurtz plead guilty to the crime earlier this year. As part of plea negotiations, the charge of falsifying records was dropped, and the Theft in Office charge was downgraded to a fourth degree felony. 

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Commissioners Sign Road Crossing Agreements

The Monroe County Commissioners met on July 22 with a full agenda. However, little business was completed.

A road usage maintenance agreement and two road crossing agreements were signed by commissioners with Eureka Hunter. The company is planning on installing a double pipeline in Ohio, Lee and Green Townships. The pipeline will begin just north of Sardis.

Roads involved include CR 10, CR 43 and CR96. The pipeline will cross CR10 three times, CR 43 twice and CR 96 once. Five crossings will be bore crossings that will not damage the road surface. A cut on CR10 will cut into the road and be fixed by the company.

Commissioners passed a motion to purchase a vehicle from Knowlton Ford. Commissioners will purchase a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria that will be used by the Sheriff's Department. The vehicle came at the cost of $13,900.

Phil Keevert, EMA Director, met with commissioners to discuss new state requirements for dangerous wild animal response. After last year's incident in which animals were let loose in the Zanesville area, each county is now required to form a committee that will develop a response plan. Commissioners passed a motion to appoint the following members to the committee: Phil Keevert; Lieutenant Tracy Truax, Monroe County Sheriff's Department; Robin Groves, Monroe County Health Department; Jason Harter, County Probation Officer; Jeremy Taylor, amateur radio operator; and Mike Langsdorf, Antioch Volunteer Fire Department. 

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Plans to Extend Woodsfield Walking Trail

Woodsfield Village Council members voted during their regular session meeting on July 15 to allow plans to extend the walking trail to move forward. The walking trail, located at Airport Rd., will extend to the new Monroe Central/Woodsfield Elementary campus if everything goes as planned.

Councilwoman Carol Hehr said of the trail, “When we started this project, it was a two-phase project.” Hehr said all those plans were made before the new schools were set to be located near the trail.

Hehr said she had recently received requests from teachers to extend the trail. That opened her mind to what the trail could become for the schools. “My vision is not just for them [students] to be able to walk on it, but I’d like to label trees and other things so it can be a nature walk.”

The extension would be approximately 1,100 feet and would follow a water line right-a-way. The water line was installed only two years ago meaning that there would be the need for minimal excavation and trimming. It was also discussed that the streets department could work on the project during their spare time to avoid the expense of contractors.

After the discussion, a motion was passed by council to extend the trail. The extension will take place, pending approval by the Switzerland of Ohio Local School Board. Hehr will speak to the board about the extension to request permission that a small section of district property can be included in the extension.

In other news, Parking Committee Chairman Bill Moore reported on the committee’s findings in regards to the lot immediately north of the village building. Plans had been to develop the empty lot into a parking lot with 8-10 angled spaces that would be sold via long-term parking meters or permits. However, Moore reported that there was more to the project than originally thought and recommended that the issues be discussed with the full council instead of just the Parking Committee. 

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Two SOLSD Principals Submit Resignations

Clint AbbottTwo Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) administrators submitted their resignations on July 8. Leaving the district will be Woodsfield Elementary Principal Clint Abbott and Beallsville School Principal Micah Fuchs.

Clint Abbott was hired as Barnesville Elementary Principal while Micah Fuchs was hired as Barnesville High School Principal. Both will work through the end of July and begin their positions at Barnesville on August 1.

SOLSD Superintendent Larry Elliott said of the two leaving, “I'm losing two quality gentlemen who have been outstanding educators, administrators and role models for the students and their community. I wish them well. They'll do well wherever they are.”

Former County Auditor James Neuhart Passes

Former Monroe County Auditor James “Jim” Neuhart passed away on Thurs., June 27 at the age of 95. Jim leaves behind a legacy of care for the community that was evident in all that he did.

Neuhart is likely remembered most by Monroe County’s citizens for his 18 years served as auditor. He began in the position shortly after he retired from Conalco in 1980. When the office came open in August of 1980, Neuhart was appointed to the position which he then held until Nov. 30, 1998.

Former Monroe County Commissioner Mark Forni, who served during Jim’s time in office, said of him, “It’s sad that we’ve lost him. He was always someone I could work with to get things accomplished. He was forward-thinking and wanted to see the county move forward.”

Jim was well known for his work ethic during his time in office. In a retirement article in the Dec. 3, 1998 edition of the Beacon written by (at the time) Staff Writer Martha Ackerman, Jim was asked about his work ethic. He answered, “I’ve been the first one in the office and the coffee has been made [by me] for 18 years. The people elected me to represent them and I feel that was my obligation.”

In the same article, Neuhart expounded how proud he was of his daughter, Pandora, who replaced him as auditor and still sits in the office today. “What more could you ask for? I’m 80 years old and I am being replaced by my younger daughter. It doesn’t get much better,” he said in the article. 

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