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Process begins for AACS permanent-improvement levy renewal

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SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP –The Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education took the first steps to placing the Permanent-Improvement Levy on the November ballot.
The Permanent-Improvement Levy is a five-year, 2.5-mills levy that raises between $850,000 to $900,000 a year. The current levy expires in July 2015.
The Textbook and Technology levy is for 1.25 mills and raises $440,000. That levy would expire in July 1, 2016 and would likely need to go before voters in November 2015. There is also a Classroom Facilities Maintenance levy that is .5 mills that raises about $200,000 a year. That levy expires in 2029.
“This levy would not collect any new money but extend the existing P.I. levy,” Treasurer Jackie Miranda said. “It last passed in November 2010, and at that time it was reduced from a 3 mill to a 2.5 mill. We have the opportunity to put it on the November ballot.”

Grants to restore freshmen sports at Lakeside High School

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SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP – Freshmen sports are coming back to Lakeside High School. Budgets cuts had previously eliminated freshmen athletic teams.
The Lakeside High School Athletic Department applied for six Dick’s Sporting Goods “Sports Matter” grants for freshman sports team. Lakeside High School received five of those six grants for the upcoming school year.
The Sports Matter program asks for donations from the community, and if the community is able to raise half of the needed costs for the season, then Dick’s Sporting Goods will match and donate the other half.
So thanks to donations from the community and Dick’s Sporting Goods, the following sports programs will receive the following amounts for the 2014-2015 season: Freshmen Football, $9,940; Freshmen Volleyball, $7,254; Freshmen Girls’ Basketball, $7,347; Freshmen Softball, $7,638; and Freshmen Baseball, $9,789.50. In total, the Lakeside Athletic Department received $41,968.50.

Plymouth Township playground sold to campground, new playground coming soon

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PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP – When the old Plymouth Elementary School was demolished in January 2012, the playground remained.
The playground was special in the hearts of many Plymouth Township residents.
“A group of PTO parents worked really hard to raise $80,000 to build that playground about 18 years ago,” Plymouth Township Trustee Chair Debbie Friedstrom said. “They built a massive playground that was handicap-accessible, and that playground got used a lot. When there was talk about removing the playground and building a newer and smaller one, I understood why some would have concerns.”

Spire Institute hosted Valor Games Gold Medal Camp

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HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP – The members of the United States Military are the best the United States has to offer. Military units are built in part through camaraderie, athleticism and training.
When a veteran suffers a serious injury in combat, assimilating back into society can often be a challenge. Many wounded veterans have discovered that sports can help in that process.
Thanks to a grant from the United States Olympic Committee and the Veteran Admission, Spire Institute hosted the Valor Games Gold Medal Camp from July 18-20.
The United States Olympic Committee invited Gold Medal Paralympian winners from the last two years to receive training from USOC Paralympian coaches.

ADDA objects to Peace Stone installation after process is started

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ASHTABULA – Finding peace isn’t always that easy. In 2011 after the inaugural Multi-Cultural Festival, the International Center for Environmental Arts donated a Peace Stone to the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association.
David and Renate Jakupca founded the International Center for Environmental Arts (ICEA) based in Berea, Ohio in 1987. The ICEA has donated Peace Stones to municipal parks nationwide to assist in promoting the reality of a sustainable global culture of peace and goodwill for all living things. According to the ICEA website, 22 municipalities have committed to the program. The Peace Stones are donated for free as long as the municipality to finds a suitable public location for the Peace Stone Sculpture.
According to the ICEA website, the stones are each handcrafted and are approximately three to four feet square and weight about 300 pounds. They are indestructible and vandal proof and erect in a few hours.

JEDD III receives $100,000 grant

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HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP – While several other communities struggle to score a successful partnership, Harpersfield Township and the City of Geneva have achieved a hat trick. The two communities have partnered for third Joint Economic Development District.
On Tuesday, July 22, leaders from both communities gathered behind the McDonald’s on State Route 534 to accept a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s office of the Appalachian Regional Commission. The $100,000 grant is a federal funding source that makes strategic investments that leverage multiple funding sources to provide for capital infrastructure improvements that support economic development. 
“It is really unusual to see two communities form three JEDDS,” Geneva Assistant City Manger Jennifer Brown said. “They are not easy to complete. We have heard in other parts of the county that some communities have been trying for years to establish a JEDD but have been unable to do it. As challenging as it is to do, it feels great to successfully achieve a third JEDD and get the funding for it.”

U.S. EPA ready to remove West Elementary, but county prosecutor raised concern

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ASHTABULA – It may be the most asked question in Ashtabula. When is the city going to do something about West Elementary School?
At the July 21st pre-council meeting, it was Ward 1 Councilor Richard Balog’s turn to ask the question. Balog asked for an update for the abandoned school that has been an eyesore since it caught fire and partially collapsed. This spring, the city enclosed the school with a fence for safety. The fence is preventing city mowers from accessing the area to mow. The city has been at a standstill with the property because it doesn’t own the land and the building has asbestos in it. A few months ago, the EPA told the city it may be able to help.

Circus elephants discover underground oil tank

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GENEVA – The Carson & Barnes circus was in town over the weekend. The circus was based in the vacant lot on Route 20 between South Eagle Street and Swan Street. Two Asian elephants that weighed over a combined 1,500 pounds were housed on the east side of the lot near South Eagle.
City Manager Jim Pearson said Fire Chief Doug Starkey called him Sunday night and said there was a problem at the circus site. The elephants stepped on what was an unknown underground oil tank and ruptured it.

New Kent State president visits Ashtabula campus first day on the job

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ASHTABULA - Dr. Beverly Warren’s first day on the job as the new Kent State University president was July 1.  Just moments after 1 p.m., Warren arrived at Kent State University at Ashtabula with 13 other high-ranking Kent State officials for a tour of the campus.
When Warren was hired in January, she stated one of her goals was to unite each of the eight campuses of Kent State University as one university.
As Warren and her group arrived, she was greeted by the very enthusiastic group of Ashtabula faculty and staff. There was even a mascot on hand with a welcome sign.
No one seemed happier than Dr. Susan Stocker, the Dean and Chief Administrative Officer of the Ashtabula Campus. Stocker gave Warren a big hug before inviting the whole contingent inside for a tour.
“I can’t express how excited we are to have her here on her first day,” Stocker said. “It is such a thrill and we are so honored.”

Floating lanterns are illegal to sell and launch in the state of Ohio

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GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE – Floating Lanterns were made popular by the Disney movie Tangled and have become a favorite for wedding parties. The lanterns can look beautiful as they float into the sky and over the lake. However they can be a real menace when they land.
The Geneva-on-the-Lake Fire Department wants you to know the lanterns are illegal to sell and use in the state of Ohio.
“The Fire Marshall was just here and she told us the lanterns were illegal in the state of Ohio to sell and launch,” Geneva-on-the-Lake Fire Chief Tim Mills said.
The lanterns have caused several problems in the village. One got caught in the power lines and almost caught a telephone pole on fire. Another lantern got caught in a tree and caused a tree fire. Last Fourth of July one landed on the roof of the tattoo shop and caught the tar of the roof on fire.
“There is a little canister when they light them and it burns real hot,” Mills said. “It is the accelerant that burns hot. It is a real pain. They light them over here on the Strip and they go over buildings.”

Ashtabula threatens to veto proposed commissioners’ generation fee

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ASHTABULA – The Ashtabula County Commissioners asked local governments for feedback on two possible options to pay for EPA mandated recycling access for 90 percent of the county.
One would be an assessment on each improved parcel in the county, which would be a fee about $6.75. The second would be a generation fee, which the solid waste district would collect. The fee would be based on $5 a ton fee. Since county residents average two tons of waste a year, the average fee would be $10. Local businesses would also be affected. One local business estimated they would have to pay well over $100,000 in a generation fee.
The city of Geneva council instructed city manager Jim Pearson to draft a recommendation letter stating the city opposes both fees. Geneva feels it would be double taxed since the city already does curbside recycling.
Now Ashtabula city council has instructed city manager Jim Timonere to do the same.
“We are definitely opposed the generation fee and we have a problem with the parcel fee because our 19,000 residents are already paying for our own recycling within the city. Why should we supplement the rest of it?” Timonere said.