SOLSD To Put Another Levy Up For Vote in November

In a move that is not surprising, but that is very necessary, the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Board of Education passed a motion during their June 20 meeting to begin the process of putting another tax levy up for vote this November. As the one that failed this May, the levy would be an Emergency Levy.

The amount of millage of the levy is pending certification by the Monroe County Auditor's office. The school district hopes to garner $3 million each year over a five year period from the levy.

In other business regarding the finances of the district, a motion was passed to adjust the expenditure reduction plan. According to the motion, two French positions, one Talented and Gifted (TAG) position, one social service position, and one district courier position will be filled.

The re-filling of the French positions comes after a public outcry over the interruption in the academic plan of several students caused by the elimination of the French program. Students already invested in the program would have lost the opportunity to graduate with honors and college scheduling would have been altered for those attending college. In order to alleviate the problems involved, the board of education agreed to phase out the French program instead of eliminating it. No new students will be allowed to begin French, but those already in the program can finish the sequence. If the levy passes in November, the entire French program will be re-established.

The TAG position was created due to state funding that was received which was specifically earmarked for talented and gifted programs. Under cuts, the district had gone from three TAG positions to one. This funding allows the district to bring back one of the two teachers previously cut. 

Liberty Thunder Pays Tribute to County Veterans

Members of the Liberty Thunder Motorcycle Club are shown at the Vietnam Memorial. The group made a trip to pay respect at the wall and other memorials during Memorial Day weekend. Paying tribute to Monroe County veterans is the mission of Liberty Thunder Motorcycle Club. The group continued that mission over Memorial Day weekend with their annual trip to Washington DC.

A portion of the group joined up with Run For The Wall for the 25th Anniversary of the pilgrimage that begins in the Los Angeles area and rolls across America over two routes.  Joining the run in Corydon, Indiana, Liberty Thunder participated at stops at the Rex Robley Veteran hospital, the Kentucky Vietnam Memorial, the West Virginia Veterans Memorial, and the elementary school in Rainelle West Virginia.  Upon arrival in Washington DC the group also participated in a wreath ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and at the Vietnam Memorial.

The trip with Run For The Wall had many memorable moments and the opportunity to meet many special veterans.  One such veteran was Joe Hudson, a prisoner of war in Iraq.  Over several days of riding together Hudson relayed much of his story of being captured, his time in captivity, and the joyful day of being rescued and learning his colleague, Jessica Lynch, had also survived.

The members of Liberty Thunder paid special tribute to the 11 Sons of Monroe County at the Vietnam Memorial.  Each of the 11 names was located and special family-contributed memorials were left at “The Wall.”

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If Awarded, CDBG Grants Could Garner Nearly $1 Million For County

The Monroe County Commissioners passed a motion to finalize the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) submittal on June 17. If all funding is secured, the county would see an influx of nearly one million dollars in 2014 among the Allocation Grant, the Neighborhood Revitalization Grant and the Critical Infrastructure Grant.

The county applied for three separate CDBG grants valued at $300,000 a piece. If secured, the grants would benefit Graysville/Washington Township, Beallsville and Bethel Township.

Graysville/Washington Township is the county's first applicant for the 2013 Neighborhood Revitalization Grant. After two community meetings were held and the input of residents was considered, the following projects will be completed if the $300,000 grant is secured: The Graysville Volunteer Fire Department will purchase a brush fire truck ($146,000); the parking lot at the community center and firehouse will be paved, and two handicapped spots will be installed at the township building ($74,700); 190 feet of curbing will be installed in Graysville while road slips will be fixed on Broomstick Rd. and Clearfork Rd. ($38,900); the outdoor basketball court at the community center will be repaired and five outdoor grills will be installed at Knowlton Park ($21,800); and the plastered walls in the community center will be repaired ($8,600). Also part of the application is a $10,000 administration fee.

Beallsville Village is the county's second applicant for the 2013 Neighborhood Revitalization Grant. Beallsville also held two community meetings and decided the following projects would be completed: Construct a two-stall building for the Beallsville Volunteer Fire Department and purchase equipment for Beallsville EMS ($168,900); install an ultraviolet disinfection system to the sewer plant and reline approximately 1,100 feet of sewer line from Ohio Ave. to the plant ($108,900); replace approximately 240 feet of sidewalk on North Main St. ($11,200); and install two sets of bleachers at the ball field at Veterans Memorial Park ($1,000). As with Graysville's application, $10,000 will go to administrative fees.

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Commissioners Tim Price Recovering After Unusual Injury

Commissioner Tim PriceMonroe County Commissioner Tim Price set out to do a normal chore three weeks ago. As a reminder of how quickly life can change, he faced serious medical issues in the days following after a still unknown catalyst led to multiple surgeries on his leg.

Price was a victim of Compartment Syndrome, a condition usually associated with those who have faced crushing injuries. However, Price had no such injury. He had simply been weedeating on a steep bank.

At one point while weedeating, Price felt a muscle cramp come on in his calf muscle. “I didn’t think much of it,” he said. A few minutes later he felt a sensation in the back of his leg that felt like a bite or a sting. After pulling up his pant legs to check for a bee, he noticed nothing and continued.

The next morning, Price awoke to leg pain and looked down to see that his leg was swollen. “It just continued getting worse. By that evening I told [wife] Rhonda that we needed to head to the hospital,” Price said.

The emergency room doctors were completely baffled by Price’s leg. Not knowing to look for Compartment Syndrome due to his lack of injury, they tested for everything from blood clots to stress fractures. Finally, blood tests gave some hint of what was wrong when they revealed that a muscle enzyme normally at the 100 level was at 4,500 in Price’s bloodstream.

After seemingly ruling out any life-threatening conditions, the ER doctor sent Price home with an appointment scheduled with a doctor the next day. When Price awoke the next morning, he found that he couldn’t move his foot and that the swelling had gotten worse. After a call to the doctor, he was rushed to the emergency room once again. 

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Sports In SOLSD Face Higher Pay-To-Play

Update: On Tuesday, June 4 (After the Beacon print deadline), the SOLSD Board passed a measure to institute a $200 pay-to-play fee on high school athletics and $100 on junior high athletics. More details will be published next week in the newspaper and online.

Sports were the topic of the day during a special meeting held by the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) Board of Education on May 30. Athletic directors, coaches and teachers from Beallsville, Monroe Central and River high schools attended to do what they could to save the sports programs in the district.

Passed on Feb. 21, 2013 by the SOLSD Board of Education were Phase 3 cuts. It was stated as part of those cuts: “All athletic and extra-curricular programs must be financially self-supporting. All programs will be required to cover 100% of their expenditures, including supplemental contracts for coaches and assistant coaches, equipment and uniforms, transportation, field maintenance, referees, etc., effective 2013-14 school year.” Despite the language in the original motion, several questions have arisen since the failure of the emergency levy in May meant cuts were to go on as planned.

In a public forum session, several questions were asked of the board, and a clearer picture of the possibilities came to light. Hannibal and Sardis Elementary Principal Rob Caldwell began the public participation. Caldwell asked several questions that were likely on the minds of those attending. Caldwell asked, among other questions, “Will it be a flat rate [pay-to-play] fee across the board, regardless of sport, regardless of school?”, “What about fundraising, where does that money go?”, etc. School Board President Ron Winkler said he understood people needed answers but that the process to figure out what will take place has “been a nightmare.”

Woodsfield Elementary Principal Clint Abbott was next to speak. Abbott simply asked what expenditures were expected of each sports program. Board Member Justin Isaly said in reply, “Everything is included.” Subsequent comments by Isaly revealed how close the board has been to eliminating sports altogether. “To even bring this up, to even consider sports, I think is a special consideration. For us to even consider to continue sports, I feel it is a privilege.”

Referencing the previous stated pay-to-play number of $1,000 per kid, per sport, Isaly said it was evident kids wouldn't be able to afford it. Isaly then mentioned that the board had come up with numbers based on cost per sport that were lower and would possibly allow sports to operate with pay-to-play revenue. SOLSD Treasurer Lance Erlwein wrote the numbers of how much the pay-to-play fee would be per sport as follows: High School Athletics: football, $400; basketball, $300; volleyball, $200; wrestling, $200; baseball, $250; track, $200; soccer, $200; cross country, $200; and golf, $200. Junior High Athletics: football, $200; basketball, $200; volleyball, $200; wrestling, $200, cheerleading, $200.

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Woodsfield Village Council Discusses Youth Baseball Fields

The Woodsfield Village Council met on May 20 to discuss multiple orders of business. The business for the meeting was light with only two motions passed.

The main portion of the meeting revolved around a conversation about youth baseball facilities. The conversation was brought on by Tedd Winland, Woodsfield youth baseball president. Winland said, due to crowded fields and full schedules, that the league was hoping to play more night games. Winland requested that the village fix the lights at the city park field and Rosie Hall field.

While village council and administration appeared sympathetic to Winland's cause, it seemed that little could be done. Village administrator Rick Schuerman said of the lights, “They're all antiquated.” Light Plant Superintendent Floyd Longwell showed a reluctance to take on the cost of the project. “The electric department shouldn't have to fund this stuff all the time,” Longwell said, directing his comments more towards council than towards Winland. Longwell said they can do what they can to replace bulbs and other broken parts in the lights. However, Longwell said they are short-handed and have several other projects in the pipeline.

A broader conversation then bloomed about what the village could do. Councilman Mike Cox said, “One of the issues I see is we don't have enough space for these kids.” Cox said there is other open land in the Woodsfield area where new field could be built. Administrator Schuerman added, “We need some support from others such as the commissioners, agriculture board, etc. The youth groups need to broaden their search for help.” 

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Community Questions School Board About Specifics On Cuts

 

The massive cuts that will be implemented for the 2013/14 school year were the topic as the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) Board of Education met on May 16 for their regular monthly meeting. Remarks by Superintendent Larry Elliott summed up the feeling in the district right now (perhaps with the later half of his remarks being the most accurate now): “This is the best of times [due to the new buildings] and the worst of times in the district,” Elliott said.

As the realities of what will be lost due to the failure of the levy sinks in, most in attendance would say it is “the worst of times” in the district. Several people commented and asked questions during the public participation segment of the meeting in regards to this feeling.

Scott Chambers, a parent of students in the district, spoke first. Scott said, “I applaud the board for making the tough choices, but I think you have a lot more tough choices to come.” Chambers said everything the district does from here on out should be “to play politics” so the levy can pass. Along those lines, Chambers recommended that the board does “what’s best for the whole district, not just one area” so they can get support from all corners of the district.

Next on tap was parent Stacey Cross who has children at River High School and River Elementary. Cross simply asked, “What will my kids be losing?” No one replied to her question during the meeting.

Taffany Rosen, another parent from the River area, asked the board and administration about sports. Rosen said sports are extremely important to her children and she wanted to know how much it would cost to play.

Parents were not the only ones to comment. Julie Casto, Monroe Central French teacher, presented the board with a letter and again made a plea for the French program. Casto especially focused on how the cutting of the program will affect the students who have already started into French. Casto cited that the students will even have their college curriculum affected due to this change. “If they have to start over with Spanish, they’ll be put at a disadvantage,” Casto said.

Also speaking during the public session was parent Sarah Smith. Smith asked the board several questions, including questions about pay-to-play. Her questions were not answered, and there was some rumbling in the crowd as it became clear that no clear answers were coming. Smith asked why the board was not prepared to give answers during the meeting.


 

At that time, parent Tracey Craig voiced what was perhaps a question on the mind of many in attendance: “When is the deadline to know how the cuts will be implemented?” Craig asked if they would know in one week, two weeks or a month. No clear answer was given, but the board expressed they know the urgency of the matter so laid-off teachers can search for other jobs and parents can know what will be offered to their children.

In response to the several questions on the subject, SOLSD Treasurer Lance Erlwein addressed the pay-to-play questions about sports. Erlwein gave figures during the meeting such as $1,000 per student, per sport. However, Erlwein said it is impossible to nail down a figure until they find out how many students will participate in sports and which sports will be able to survive.

Erlwein said, about the implementation of pay-to-play, “I haven’t heard of a district that put up athletic cuts at this level.” Referencing the $1,000 per student, per student price point, Erlwein said, “That right there kills the program [due to the inhibitive costs].”

As conversations about the massive cuts continued, Tracey Craig asked, “Are you looking at closing any schools?” Erlwein answered that phase two and three cuts only keeps the district in the black for three or four years. “If no money is found by that time, we have nothing left to cut except buildings.”

Highlighting how bad the situation could become, parent Dee Vargo asked if the board had taken into consideration how many students will leave for other districts and how much more funding would be lost to that. Treasurer Erlwein said, if the 2014/15 state budget passes as written, their funding will remain the same over those two years no matter what enrollment is lost. “In 2016 is when we’ll be hammered,” he said.

Summing up the conversation about cuts, Erlwein said, “The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District does not fit into the state model. The state has made it clear we won’t get more money.” Erlwein also hinted that the district would be fighting for its life over the next few years.  “Every month that goes by, we inch closer and closer to fighting for survival like Caldwell Exempted Schools,” Erlwein said.

Speaking of the cuts during his report, Superintendent Larry Elliott had said, “This all equals some unhappy times for administration, for the board, for teachers, staff, bus drivers, students.” Those “unhappy times” were clearly evident during the meeting.

In other board business, updates were given by Marc Ring, SOLSD Director of Support Services. Ring said the exterior veneer at River Elementary was complete. Also on the exterior, sidewalk work was to begin this week, and the final grading was being completed.

At River High School, Ring said the third floor classrooms have had drywall hung and painted. The ceiling grids will be installed soon.

At Skyvue Elementary, Ring said that masons had completed the block work on the gymnasium and cafeteria area. Roof joists were scheduled to be installed soon with roof decking to follow in June. Ring also said the tanks for the wastewater treatment plant were being set.

Time was also set aside during the meeting to recognize sports accomplishments. The River High School boys basketball team was honored for their strong 2012/13 season. Head Coach Mark Romick was presented with a plaque for his accomplishments in being named District 12, Division IV Coach of the Year. Romick thanked the administration for all they had done for the school and the team. Also honored were players Brett Price, Jordan Indermuhle, Matt Marconi, Cam Brown and Cody Caldwell.

The River High School girls track team was also honored for their spectacular accomplishments in the ongoing 2013 track and field season. The team won the PVC for the first time ever. They also won the OVAC AAA championship for the first time in 27 years. Receiving special honors was coach Bob Cicogna who was named the PVC Coach of the Year.

The next regular session SOLSD board meeting will be held June 20. Several work sessions are scheduled between now and then with hopes that the board will soon have a specific plan on completing the cuts.

 

Celebration Commemorates Opening of Rail Service in County

 

David Reid, Managing Director of Hannibal Industrial Park is pictured (standing) as he presents Hannibal Real Estate CEO Jeffrey Himmel with a commemorative sign hand-painted in England. Also pictured, from left, are: Commissioner Tim Price, Ohio Terminal Railway CEO Russell Peterson, commissioner John Pyles and commissioner Carl Davis (far right). A celebration was recently held at Marv's Place in Sardis to commemorate the opening of the Omal railway in Monroe County. Attending were members of the Hannibal Industrial Park, the Ohio Terminal Railway and the Monroe County Commissioners.

Honored during the celebration were Jeffrey Himmel, CEO of Hannibal Real Estate and Russell Peterson, CEO of the Ohio Terminal Railway. Proclamations read by the commissioners recognized their efforts in bringing back rail service to the county.

The proclamation honoring Jeffrey Himmel said, “This is a perfect demonstration of dedication to the citizens of Monroe County in creating employment for your dedicated employees who remain ever vigilant in the pursuit of continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.” It was said of Russell Peterson in another proclamation, “We now welcome the OHIO Terminal Railway to Monroe County, we note that through your affiliated railroads in Ohio and Pennsylvania you have a proven commitment to your employees, community and service.”

As part of the events, David Reid, Managing Director of the Hannibal Industrial Park gave a speech. Reid said in his speech, in reference to the six month process to re-open the railway, “The 12 miles of railway was steadily being overtaken by nature, and in many places the brush and undergrowth had completely covered the track. How is it, then, that this renaissance has been made possible? This only happens when unique individuals come together with a vision and a commitment to cause change.”

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SOLSD Levy Fails According to Unofficial Results

According to unofficial results on the Monroe County Board of Elections website, the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District (SOLSD) has seen its levy fail by a close margin of 2,239 For to 2,419 Against. In the results labeled "Final" and "Unofficial," the tally for Monroe County was 1,935 For and 2,026 Against. According to the unofficial results filed at 9:02 p.m. on May 7, Monroe County had a 39% voter turn-out with 3,962 voters heading to the polls.

Due to the lay-out of the district, a small group of Belmont County and Noble County residents are part of the district. According to Belmont County results reported to the Monroe County Board of Elections, the total unofficial vote count in the county were 289 For and 357 Against. Noble County reported an unofficial tally of 15 For and 36 Against.

For up-to-date results, visit the Monroe County Board of Elections at: https://sites.google.com/site/monroecountyboe/election-results

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Breakfast Brings Awareness To Child Abuse and Neglect

 

Monroe County Dept of Job and Family Services (JFS) Children Services hosted a community breakfast Thursday, April 18, at Traditions. The purpose of the breakfast was to discuss child abuse and neglect prevention.

The speakers included Ohio Hills Health Services nurse practitioner Judeana Gramlich, Pastor Brandon Ward and Kim Ward, and Monroe County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) employees Misty Dierkes and Karrie Lafferre.

The speakers all stressed the importance of paying attention to children in order to recognize any signs of abuse or neglect. Gramlich said that in her profession, she has seen a lot of injured children, but she keeps her eyes open for anything that doesn’t seem quite right.

Gramlich said the signs are sometimes so subtle that they can be easily missed. One of the things she looks for that is usually a  “red flag” is weight loss. Gramlich said it is not normal for a child to lose weight. A growing child should gain weight.

Gramlich said that other flags include bite marks too large to be that of a child or unusual burns. Also, when a child is brought in for a fracture, there are certain ways to tell whether or not the fracture was inflicted. Gramlich also stated that “exploring and experimenting” of a sexual nature at the wrong age could mean the child is being sexually abused.

No matter what Gramlich  finds during an examination, however, she says it is her job to report signs of abuse or neglect, not to judge the parents or guardians. “Reporting is not about removing the child from the home. It is about getting the family the help they need.”


 

Brandon Ward, pastor of Calais Independent Baptist Church, and wife Kim have devoted their lives to taking care of children. They were there to teach the importance of speaking up when abuse is discovered.

The couple, who are in the process of adopting twin boys, say that it is not always easy to come forward, especially when the suspected abuser is someone who is close. Kim told the group that she faced this dilemma when she had to report her own brother and his girlfriend. She said the situation caused a lot of family problems.

Niether Brandon nor Kim regret this decision, however. “It is extremely important to keep your eyes and ears open. Children need a voice,” says Pastor Brandon.

Misty Dierkes and Karrie Lafferre, who work in the service and support administration  (SSA) department of MCBDD, say the organization offers services to help persons with developmental disabilities set realistic goals, make their own choices, and become productive members of society.   MCBDD also protects people with disabilities through SSA.

SSA offers numerous services including information and referral, advocacy, crisis intervention, and coordination of residential services.

One of the most important services provided by SSA, however, is unusual incident investigation. Dierkes said it is up to them to decide whether an incident is an unusual incident (UI) or a major unusual incident (MUI).

An MUI is anything involving physical or verbal abuse, attempted suicide, or a similiar incident. SSA is required by law to report these occurances and are on call 24 hours a day. Dierkes said, “Health and safety are our main concern.”

Deirkes said that one of the main goals of SSA is to teach people with disabilities to speak up for themselves and to report any abuse. The overall intention of MCBDD is to help people with developmental disabilities to “live quality lives.”

If you suspect child abuse,  don’t remain silent. Report it. You can help by calling Monroe County Children Services at 740-472-1602 during normal business hours or the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department at 740-472-1612. You can also call the USA National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. Callers may remain anonymous.

 

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