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LC Board moves forward on solar array plan

LIBERTY CENTER — The Liberty Center Local Schools Board of Education Monday approved a resolution to begin negotiations for a contract with Entrust to potentially host a solar panel array on campus.

The matter was originally presented to the board in December, and Superintendent Richie Peters said, since he started with the district in January, he has spoken to Jeff Feasby of the company a few times to keep the information up-to-date. It was reported a potential layout was the only real update to the previous information.

Entrust was formed to assist in funding and implementing projects to provide tax benefits for a parent manufacturing company in Indiana while using power purchase agreements to leverage positive cashflows realized by solar energy to benefit entities such as schools.

The company installs and maintains the solar array at no cost to the district. Under the arrangement the district purchases electricity for a proposed number of years.

Following that arrangement, which is typically 25 years, the district can then purchase the array for $1 and maintain full ownership of the electricity generated. Feasby said the manufacturer suggests a 40-year useful life for the panels.

The discussion revolved around open field space located to the west of the school facilities. While utilizing the majority of the space for the solar panel array would allow the district to meet the generally-proposed 80 percent of total district energy generated, a smaller section on the southwest corner of the campus was pinpointed.

Feasby said most of the open space is still available for the district to develop as practice fields for various sports and school activities. However, the proposed array location is in a retainage pond area that couldn’t feasibly be used for such activities.

Feasby said the proposed section would produce 48 percent of the energy needed by the district, and the company could leverage equipment to keep the panels level on the ground. In reviewing the fields, the 2 acres proposed for the array feature grounds on which “90-plus percent” are unusable for standard school activities.

He said the campus is “landlocked” in regard to the availability of flat land, adding the grounds further west drop off even more in elevation, making use of materials to raise panels inefficient at that point. Other areas nearby are designated as flood plain areas that can’t be constructed upon.

In a potential agreement, the school district purchases an agreed-upon percentage of the facilities’ energy from the solar array. On Monday, Feasby said the proposed rate would be 9 cents per kilowatt hour over a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Treasurer Jenell Buenger reported the district is currently enrolled in the Power for Schools program, and it was noted the district’s current rate is 10 cents per kilowatt hour. However, this agreement is set to expire at the end of the year, and an increase is expected as the district changes programs for 2020.

Feasby said the 10-cent rate is “good” when compared to other districts, but, on average, energy rates increase by 3.5% each year. He said solar materials have reached a “nice price point,” where returns on an investment are being realized within a shorter time.

The most recent school district that installed a solar array in cooperation with Entrust was Antwerp. The district recently completed a one-year study of having the array in operation, and, despite having two pieces of equipment initially down, Feasby said the savings to the district were within $800 of what was forecast by the company.

Feasby said many of these projects are usually coupled with school facility upgrades, but these opportunities are more limited for Liberty Center since it recently moved into an all-new building. It was proposed 583 fixtures in the performance gym/administration facility could be upgraded to LED, which was highlighted at Monday’s meeting.

It was also stated the district can elect to expand with more solar panels in the array at a later time.

Feasby said he is currently working with the school districts in Wauseon, Ayersville and Elida, and is also in discussions with the Village of Hamler for the potential installation of solar panels on the site of its new water plant. He said a passed resolution typically allows a contract to be ready in a month, construction would likely begin in September, with a project completion estimate for the end of the year.

“We think it’s an exciting opportunity, and something we can start early on to see some cost savings,” LC Board President Neal Carter said following the meeting. “We don’t want to wait too long and miss out on anything in the first few years. I think it’s a good opportunity for Liberty Center to get involved in, seeing what other districts in the area have already done.

“I think the timing is perfect with the facilities now and the upgrades we can make to the existing building,” he continued. “It would be a cost savings over increased utility rates that we foresee, so it’s going to be a great opportunity for us.”

Email comments to aaron@northwestsignal.net.


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Threshers celebrate 75th reunion

WAUSEON — The National Threshers Association is celebrating its 75th reunion this weekend at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.

With events planned for Thursday through Sunday, the annual reunion, which has received commendations from the Ohio governor and the Ohio Senate, will feature Port Huron steam engines and threshing machines as those were the first engines used at the reunion by founder Leroy Blaker. Also featured are Caterpillar and Novo gas engines.

“We are honored and proud that we are able to continue a tradition that endures and hold the vision and high standards set for one of the best steam shows in the world,” said Dennis Rupert, president of the National Threshers Association.

According to the association, the first gathering took place June 30, 1945, at Blaker’s farm outside of Alvordton and his Port Huron steam engines were in use at that initial event, which was attended by 300 people. The show moved to Montpelier in 1953 and then to Wauseon in 1965.

Rupert reflected the reunion has grown over the years and now showcases approximately 50 engines. Camping was not available during the first years of the reunion, but now nearly 500 campers stay for the weekend. The four-day event now averages more than 10,000 spectators and 500 tractors on display.

Rupert encouraged the public to stop by the event “to see the equipment operating as it did 100 years ago, equipment that began the industrial revolution,” as well as flea markets and “fair” foods.

Daily admission is $5, and kids under 12 are free with an adult admission. National Threshers Association membership are available for $10. Parking is free.

The Fulton County Fairgrounds are located in Wauseon along State Route 108 at the Ohio Turnpike exit 34.


NWS file photo 

Northwest Ohio Picker’s Paradise and Auto Swap Meet returns this weekend at the Henry County Fairgrounds. Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., the event features a variety of flea market vendors with antiques and arts and crafts and an auto swap meet. Admission and parking are free.


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Phase 1 underway at PH

HAMLER — The Patrick Henry Schools Board of Education Monday took a tour of the facilities under construction for Phase 1 during the board’s regular meeting Monday night at Patrick Henry High School.

PH Superintendent Josh Biederstedt gave board members, media and a few other guests a tour of some of the projects either underway or completed as the first of two phases which are part of a facilities project funded from the taxes from an area pipeline project. The first phase addresses some of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work in the high school along with necessary electrical work, minor interior work, an upgrade to LED lighting and paving of the bus lot.

On Monday, Biederstedt first took the group outside and showed painting of the sides and roof of the second stand-alone athletic building that had been completed. Paving at the bus garage had also been finished, but a few low spots were in need of repair. The outside playground is to be finished by mid-July.

The frame to the high school cafeteria is to be completed by the end of July, with the HVAC units to be installed by the end of the week.

New lighting for both the high school and middle school gymnasiums have been completed with new LED lights installed. LED lighting has also been installed in several of the middle school classrooms, with the rest of the rooms to be finished by Aug. 1.

The lighting in the classroom will allow teachers to dim the lighting at three different settings which, according to Biederstedt, allows the school district to save money.

“Each one of the settings is a different dollar value,” said Biederstedt. “This setting would be like spending a dollar and a half, the next a dollar and the last 50 cents.”

Biederstedt also showed off new carpeting and flooring in the middle school offices that are not part of Phase 1, but was needed after flooding this past year.

After the tour, the PH superintendent said he also saw a prototype for the school’s new website and he said the site will hopefully be up and running before the school year begins. He added that it was “mobile friendly.”

The next school board meeting is set for July 22 at 7 p.m.


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Suspect in Bryan killing arrested

HILLSDALE, Michigan — A Michigan man was arrested Monday and is charged in connection with a death in Bryan.

Ryan K. Dangerfield, 38, of Reading, Michigan, was arrested by Michigan State Police in an alleged connection with a fatal stabbing at Colonial Manor Motel on East High Street in Bryan early Sunday morning. Dylan Bible was the victim of the assault and was later pronounced dead at Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers-Bryan.

Dangerfield is being held in the Hillsdale County Jail on a voluntary manslaughter charge out of Bryan Municipal Court, as well as charges of resisting arrest, assault and battery and being a fugitive from justice out of Hillsdale County’s Second District Court.

A first-degree felony voluntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000.

Dangerfield currently has an arraignment scheduled for Wednesday in Hillsdale.

Dangerfield’s case, the subject of an ongoing investigation, is expected to be brought before a grand jury in Ohio following an extradition hearing. It is unclear at this time what, if any, additional charges will be brought against him in Williams County.

Dangerfield was arrested at a residence on Berry Road, a rural dirt road in Reading, Michigan, just outside of Hillsdale, Dangerfield’s last known address.

“Over the course of the day we’ve had numerous tips as to what his whereabouts might be, so we’ve been actively looking for him in Hillsdale County,” said Sgt. Dean York with the Michigan State Police. “A tip led to a residence where he was arrested after a brief foot chase through a field. No force was used in the arrest of the subject.”

The homeowner at the Berry Road address was not placed in police custody as of Monday afternoon.

Michigan State Police Fugitive Task Force and the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene Monday, with Michigan State Police heading in from the west and sheriff’s deputies heading in from the east, cutting off escape routes by road as they arrived.

Hillsdale County Sheriff’s deputies also arrested 39-year-old Sarah Ann Doyle during a Sunday traffic stop in Hillsdale on charges of accessory to a felony after the fact. At her arraignment Monday in Hillsdale 2B District Court, Doyle indicated she had been living in Pioneer with family recently.

According to Hillsdale County Prosecutor Neal Brady, the bloody shirt Dangerfield allegedly wore at the time of the stabbing was found in Doyle’s vehicle, though how it got there and her exact role in the situation is undetermined at this time.

If sentenced, Doyle could face a maximum sentence of five years and/or up to $10,000 in fines. Doyle will attend a probable cause hearing to see if charges will be pursued and was granted a court-appointed lawyer. Her bond was set at $75,000.

Doyle, too, is expected to brought before a grand jury to face local charges.

In the original incident, Bryan police officers responded to a report of an assault at Colonial Manor Motel, 924 E. High St., at around 3:22 a.m. Sunday. County Central Communications (9-1-1) log records show Williams County EMS was dispatched to the motel at 3:18 a.m. for a report of a stabbing. According to court documents, the victim was stabbed in the left rib cage.

Bryan Police worked in conjunction with the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Williams County Coroner’s Office, as well as Michigan State Police and other agencies on scene Monday to coordinate their efforts.

Williams County Prosecutor Kate Zartman thanked all the agencies for their efforts Monday following Dangerfield’s arrest and encouraged anyone with information surrounding the individuals or events to come forward.