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Henry County Airport traffic has been picking up

Activity at the Henry County Airport has been consistent in the last year or so, and looks to be continuing this year.

Improvements of $2 million occurred at the facility last year, all of which were paid for through federal grant money.

One of the grants, for $1.95 million, went toward paving the runway and installing new lighting.

“We were one of two airports in Ohio that received this grant,” said Tom Parker, president of the airport board. He pointed out the other airport was Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, which is split between civilian and military use.

Another grant, totaling $68,000, went toward a project to install a new beacon and wind cone.

Both those projects were completed late in 2020.

“If you ever go by there at night and the lights are on, it’s really impressive,” Parker said. “The wind cone is really a bright orange, it’s really a nice little airport out there.”

Commissioner Glenn Miller, who has his pilot’s license, said several years ago flying into the airport could be a challenge.

“It would be like, ‘OK, where’s the wind cone?’” Miller said.

This year, the airport is set to install a new access road, which is estimated at $310,000. Bids are due Feb. 25. The facility is located at 10646 County Road O.

Parker said 90% of the project will be covered by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), while the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), will fund 5%. A local match of 5%, or about $15,500, will also be needed.

Construction likely would begin in July and take about a month. The airport board asked if the county commissioners would be willing to put any money toward the local match. That will be discussed and a decision reached later.

Henry County already typically pays $15,000 a year toward the airport as part of its budget.

The improvements are welcome in light of the airport getting more use recently.

“I’ve noticed over the year that there has been an increase in traffic at the airport,” Miller said. “There were a few years that you hardly heard an airplane.”

Parker said Ames Aviation, located at the airport, employs four full-time staff. The company provides maintenance for general aircraft and business jets.

“He’s been busy,” Parker said. “That means airplanes are coming in for maintenance and they’re utilizing the airport.”

Three board members, including Parker, had terms expire at the end of December, and all three were approved for another two-year term. Parker will again serve as president, while Craig Birkhold and Tom McClain were also approved.

Holgate board receives COVID-19 updates

HOLGATE — The Holgate Local Schools Board of Education Monday heard updates on multiple COVID-19-related items, including vaccines, fraudulent unemployment claims, spring activities and finances.

Last week’s scheduled vaccine clinic for staff members was canceled because the vaccines had not arrived due to winter weather, and Superintendent Kelly Meyers thanked the Henry County Health Department, staff and parents for working together to make the last-minute adjustments.

“If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that we have to learn to roll with the punches,” Meyers said. “People really did a nice job rolling with that we weren’t having school and then we had school. I think a lot of good communication happened, and it went pretty flawlessly.”

The vaccines did arrive Monday morning, so the clinic will now be held Friday. Students will not be in session that day as it will be a professional development day for staff.

Meyers said 63 staff members have opted to receive the vaccine during Friday’s clinic. The second dose of the vaccine is anticipated to be administered March 26.

Middle/High School Principal Bryan Hughes said the school is starting to plan its traditional spring activities such as prom and graduation while keeping in compliance with pandemic regulations.

Hughes said they are planning for prom to be on April 17.

“What our plan is, and this is not set in stone, but our plan is to try to have as normal of a prom as possible without dancing and replace dancing with some type of live show or act, whether it’s a comedian or musician,” he said. “Having pictures set up, having a catered dinner and then having that show that night.”

Hughes said, once again plans are not finalized, but after-prom will likely not be held that night, but possibly could be planned for later in the year and outdoors.

“That hasn’t been fully discussed yet,” he added.

As for graduation, Hughes said they are planning to return to a traditional ceremony in the gym May 30, but in keeping in guidelines that are utilized for sporting events such as 15% capacity and having a certain number of tickets per students.

“My estimate is that it’s going to be about five to six tickets per family, and then I’ve also talked with Blake Tijerina and he’s going to live stream graduation the same way he has basketball games, which will be really nice,” he said.

Treasurer Kent Seemann reported the district is aware of five fraudulent unemployment claims involving the district, including three teachers and both individuals in the treasurer’s office, including himself.

“It’s going around, a lot of schools are getting one a day,” he said, adding he has to go online to a portal set up by the state to confirm it’s fraudulent and then the employee has to complete a portion to try to stop further identity theft. “There have been some issues where people were actually being issued 1099s for money that they supposedly received. We have not had anybody come to us and say that they’ve had a 1099 issued to them, thankfully.

“We’re just advising everyone to take the proper precaution and monitor their credit reports,” he added.

Seemann also reported some decline in income tax and casino tax revenues that he said were anticipated due to the pandemic.

Fourth quarter income tax revenues for calendar year 2020 was down around $8,800, 1% compared to calendar year 2019. Looking at the first three quarters of fiscal year 2021, which ends June 30, those collections are down approximately $21,000 (3.2%) compared to fiscal year 2020.

“That’s to be expected with COVID and people out of work at times,” Seemann said.

With the second payment for casino revenues received in January, Seemann said fiscal year 2021 totaled $18,600, which was a decrease of $5,600 from fiscal year 2020.

Seemann said the district has not yet applied for additional COVID-19 relief funds, but it’s anticipated the district could receive around $185,000.

“We’re being told they might be a little bit more lenient on how those funds are used, but we’re still looking at that,” he said, adding one idea he has is to see if those funds could offset losses in the athletic fund revenues. “We’ve seen a huge reduction in revenue in the athletic department and obviously a lot of that is due to restrictions in attendance, so there may be a possibility for us to use some of those funds to help out that area, which would otherwise need to be transferred from the general fund.”

Meyers also noted she learned Rep. Jim Hoops recently shared positive comments about schools in Henry County, which have operated in-person since the beginning of the school year, to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

“Our staff has shown tremendous resiliency in dealing with everything COVID that has come at us this year,” she said. “It was nice to be recognized.”

EMS, fire contract with City of Napoleon recommended

The Napoleon Safety and Human Services Committee Monday recommended the 2021 contract for fire and emergency medical services to council for approval.

The contract is between the city and the Henry County South Joint Ambulance District (HCSJAD) for EMS, as well as with the townships of Freedom, Harrison and Napoleon and the Village of Florida for EMS and fire services the city provides to those entities.

The projected share of expense through the contract will be as follows:

HCSJAD — $8,085.65;

Freedom Township — $16,857.57.

Napoleon Township — $126,892.28;

Harrison Township — $75,873.62;

Village of Florida — $11,583.69.

The city’s share of the contract is estimated at $788,027.45.

The cost sharing is based on a formula that has been used over several years.

The estimated expenses for this year are based on the 2020 actual expenses. There is the possibility the estimates could change based on a request made by one of the representatives of an agency with which the city contracts.

Scott Buddelmeyer, director of the HCSJAD, asked city officials to reconsider the way revenue coming from non-emergency medical transport runs provided by Napoleon Fire and Rescue are factored into the formula.

Currently, that revenue is not added in to the other revenue adjustments which are then credited to the outside entities, such as grant money and donations.

The fire department maintains staffing while other EMS personnel are performing the non-emergency transports.

“You’re generating revenue, so we’re helping pay for that, but we’re not seeing the benefits,” Buddelmeyer said.

City officials said the procedure has been the same since it started doing non-emergency transports in 2015.

However, they said they would review the issue to see if any changes need made. If so, the contract will be amended before it is finalized.

Napoleon City Council, as well as the township trustees, HCJSAD board of directors and Florida council, will need to approve the contract, which will go into effect in April.

LC board approves memorandum with teachers

LIBERTY CENTER — The Liberty Center Local Schools Board of Education Monday discussed updates to agreements due to the rescheduling of staff COVID-19 vaccinations.

Superintendent Richie Peters said he met with Liberty Center Classroom Teachers Association (LCCTA) representatives following the rescheduling of the clinics. The clinic for the school was scheduled for the previous Friday, but because recent snow storms prevented the vaccines from reaching the Henry County Health Department in time, it is now scheduled for this Friday.

“It was no one’s fault,” Peters said. “With the weather, it got stuck and (the health department) was not able to get it in time.”

The board’s agenda included a memorandum of understanding with the LCCTA based on a calendar modification due to the clinics.

Peters said the memorandum as previously written will still be honored because its intent remains the same. He said the memorandum was written to change two students dates to professional development dates, and although the specific dates are changed, the matter of classifying those two dates remains the same.

The change of dates did impact another item on the board’s agenda, which was to approve a revised school year calendar. This item was taken off the agenda so the appropriate alterations can be made for board action during its March meeting.

Peters confirmed with the board the vaccines arrived at the health department, noting since it is the Moderna vaccine, the second dose will be administered March 26. That means a second professional development day will be held during the second clinic and students will not report to school that day.

In other business, the board approved agreements with the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center (NwOESC).

The board ratified a revised foundation deduction agreement with NwOESC for special education services for fiscal year 2021 in the amount of $539,960.37. Treasurer Jenell Buenger reported this comes in at approximately $89,000 more than estimated, but that is due to student enrollments in areas such as preschool and the use of independent education consultants (IECs).

The board also approved an agreement for NwOESC services from July 1-June 30, 2022 at a cost of $686,832.05. Buenger said the increase was attributed to the same reason as the previous agreement.

An NwOESC service agreement for autism diagnostic observation schedule services was also approved from Aug. 15, 2020-June 15 at a rate of $88.60 per hour.

The board also approved treasurer reports, including the budget-to-actual report. The district is through 58% of its fiscal year, and the realized revenues are at 58.04% of projections, along with 56% for the expenditures.

In other treasurer recommendations, the board approved:

•A resolution authorizing the treasurer, superintendent and board to be covered by an insurance policy in lieu of executing a surety bond. Buenger reported the change is expected to save the district $200 annually.

•A donation of 2,000 masks from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and an anonymous donation of $2,826.10 for softball uniforms.

•A resolution accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor.

•Depository agreements with Huntington Bank, Farmers & Merchants State Bank and The Henry County Bank for a period of five years, March 17-March 16, 2026.

School staff vaccine clinics rescheduled

The COVID-19 vaccine clinics for K-12 school staff members are rescheduled for Friday.

The COVID-19 vaccine shipment intended for school staff didn’t arrive as scheduled last week due to winter weather in the U.S., causing the canceling of Friday’s clinics.

Henry County Health Commissioner Joy Ermie said the shipment arrived Monday, so the clinics are rescheduled for Friday.

Napoleon Area City Schools announced students will have a remote education day Friday. Liberty Center Local Schools, Holgate Local Schools and Patrick Henry Local Schools announced students will not be in school Friday due to the vaccine clinics for personnel who choose to receive it.