After years of discussion, a draft agreement to create a regional water commission for Toledo and its suburbs was approved Friday.
According to the draft agreement, the cities of Toledo, Perrysburg, Maumee, Sylvania and Whitehouse, plus the Northwest Water and Sewer District, Lucas County and Monroe County, all will be part of the regional water commission, Maumee Mayor Rich Carr told The Bryan Times late Friday.
Carr said the draft proposal calls for 40-year uniform water supply contracts. It first must be approved by Toledo City Council and the Lucas County Commission, then it can be taken back to the individual councils and county commissions.
Toledo City Council next meets Sept. 3. Once Toledo City Council approves the contract, the other municipalities likely will have up to 60-day deadlines to do the same.
“The process could go fairly quickly. I anticipate it would be approved (by all parties) by the end of the year,” Carr said.
Toledo voters approved officials forming a new regional water commission in November 2018. The commission structure enables Toledo to maintain ownership of its water treatment plant while establishing a board of representatives from all participating communities to make decisions about water rates and capital improvements.
Carr said the agreement — called the “Uniform Water Purchase and Supply Agreement” — represented the best compromise that was agreeable to all parties.
Elements of the draft agreement say that:
• The new commission would set water rates, with Toledo City Council maintaining the ability to veto those recommendations by a three-fourths majority vote;
• Lucas County customers would pay a retail rate that covers both the cost of treating and distributing water to customers, plus the costs of billing, meter-reading and maintenance.
• Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Whitehouse, Fulton County, Monroe County and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District would pay a wholesale rate that covers the cost of treating and distributing water to a master-meter. Each community could then tack on its own surcharge to cover the cost of transporting that water from the master-meter to its residents.
• Future water rates depend on how many municipalities vote to join the commission.
Carr said negotiations between Toledo and its suburbs have been ongoing for about three years and the proposal seems to address a key sticking point in forming a water commission — fair and equitable water rates.
“It’s a fair agreement. I think it’s one everyone can live with,” Carr said.
It’s unclear what this means for a proposal by Artesian of Pioneer to drill into the Michindoh Aquifer and its supply water to the suburbs.
In June 2018, AOP founder and president Ed Kidston told The Times he expected to drill at least one test well into the Michindoh to determine the feasibility of providing water to Henry County, Liberty Center, Whitehouse and possibly other entities and suburban communities around Toledo.
Earlier this year, AOP drilled a test production well at a site on Fulton County Road S, just northwest of Fayette, and is awaiting a decision from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The AOP plan generated a groundswell of opposition and the Williams County Alliance has proposed a county charter for the November ballot as a means of legally opposing the AOP plan.
While the proposed charter petitions had a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the ballot, the charter was rejected by the Williams County Board of Elections and the Williams County Common Pleas Court in separate actions, with both saying language in the proposed charter exceeded the scope of the powers afforded to local governments by the state.
Alliance member Sherry Fleming, of Bryan, confirmed Friday that her group is appealing the decision and has filed a writ of mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court.
Kidston, who is seeking another term in November as mayor of Pioneer, did not respond to multiple requests Friday by The Times for comment.
Carr said if the new water proposal is approved, “it potentially takes (the AOP proposal) off the table.”
The EPA is still reviewing feedback on the AOP test well and no decision has been made yet, according to Dina Pierce, media coordinator for Ohio EPA’s Northwest and Southwest districts.
Pierce said the EPA received about 250 comments about AOP’s proposed plan during a month-long public comment period from mid-February to mid-March.
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran appears to be preparing another satellite launch after twice failing this year to put one in orbit, despite U.S. accusations that the Islamic Republic’s program helps it develop ballistic missiles.
Satellite images of the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province this month show increased activity at the site, as heightened tensions persist between Washington and Tehran over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.
While Iran routinely only announces such launches after the fact, that activity coupled with an official saying a satellite would soon be handed over to the country’s Defense Ministry suggests the attempt will be coming soon.
“The Imam Khomeini space launch center is usually quite empty,” said Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. “Now we’ve seen pictures where you can see activities at this assembly center and something happening at the (launch) pad.”
“If you put both together it sounds very likely there’s something that’s going to happen,” he said.
The satellite images of the space center, taken Aug. 9, show activity at one facility there, Hinz said Sunday. Another image of a launch pad at the facility shows water that’s run off it and pooled, likely a sign of workers preparing the site for a launch, he said.
CNN first reported on the satellite images of the space center, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran.
Iranian satellite launches had been anticipated before the end of the year.
In July, Iran’s Information and Communications Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi told The Associated Press that Tehran planned three more launches this year, two for satellites that do remote-sensing work and another that handles communications.
The Nahid-1 is reportedly the telecommunication satellite, which authorities plan to have in orbit for two-and-a-half months. Nahid in Farsi means “Venus.”
The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Jahromi on Aug. 13 as saying that the Nahid-1 was ready to be delivered to Iran’s Defense Ministry, signaling a launch date for the satellite was likely imminent. Iran’s National Week of Government, during which Tehran often inaugurates new projects, begins Aug. 24.
The launch of the Nahid-1 comes after two failed attempts at getting satellites into orbit in January and February. A separate fire at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in February also killed three researchers, authorities said at the time.
Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space.
The U.S. alleges such launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Iran, which has long said it doesn’t seek nuclear weapons, maintains its satellite launches and rocket tests have no military component. Tehran also says they don’t violate the U.N. resolution, as it only “called upon” Tehran not to conduct such tests.
The tests have taken on new importance to the U.S. amid the maximalist approach to Tehran taken by President Donald Trump’s administration. Tensions have been high between the countries since Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal over a year ago and imposed sanctions, including on Iran’s oil industry. Iran recently has begun to break the accord itself while trying to push Europe to help it sell oil abroad.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment Sunday about the apparently forthcoming Iranian launch.
Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.
John Poulson of the Henry County Fair Board of Directors reported on updates to the fairgrounds during the Henry County Agriculture Hall of Fame ceremony.
Poulson reported the agriculture hall building project still has an approximately $35,000 balance being paid off. He said, just prior to the 2019 fair, another donation had been received to help pay toward the balance.
Moving forward, considerations are being made to install a full heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the ag hall. Poulson said this would help with people and organizations being able to use the hall year-round.
Poulson also spoke about agricultural records maintained by the local farm bureau. He said a history committee is looking to create a map of Henry County that shows every Centennial Farm still maintained by its family line. Poulson said a list was provided of these farms since 1976, but the committee is seeking those willing to confirm the information.
In updates to the fairgrounds, Poulson said the site recently had drainage and roof projects completed. A recent project also poured concrete flooring in the 4-H poultry barn.
Following this year’s fair, efforts are being made to update the 4-H youth building similar to how the Floral Hall was recently updated. The 4-H Advisory Council seeks to renovate the booth building in time for the 2020 Henry County Fair. One of the booth spaces during the 2019 fair featured a poster board that allowed fairgoers to make suggestions for possible updates to the hall.
The advisory council stated it would like to possibly start the project in the fall with the removal of the dividing walls and drop ceilings. Plans include the design of portable walls/dividers, and painting the walls and original ceilings. The council is seeking fund for the proposed project in full to include electrical and lighting updates, painting and divider construction at an estimate cost of $16,000-$17,000.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Officials say they seized $2.3 million worth of marijuana mixed in with a shipment of jalapeño peppers at a Southern California port.
A Customs and Border Protection K-9 unit alerted officers to a shipment of peppers Thursday at the Otay Mesa cargo facility in San Diego.
A CBP news release says officers discovered more than 7,500 pounds (3,401 kilograms) of marijuana in the peppers’ pallets.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan congratulated the officers on Twitter and noted it was the second large seizure of marijuana there within days.
Authorities seized more than 10,600 lbs (4,808 kilograms) of marijuana in a shipment of plastic auto parts at the port Tuesday.