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Burkley: 'Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act'
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 4:52 PM

Guest Column • State Rep. Tony Burkley (R-Payne)

As Americans, some of our most basic, yet most sacred, freedoms are outlined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Our country was based on the fundamental rights to speak, assemble and worship, and we need to remain diligent on preserving those liberties. That is why I was happy to sign on as a cosponsor to a bill that helps to protect against laws that substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.

The “Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” (RFRA) which was recently introduced by members from both parties and is outlined in House Bill 376, strongly resembles a law signed at the federal level in 1993 by President Clinton. The law required courts to use what is called “strict scrutiny” in religious freedom cases, which requires the government to justify any burdens that are imposed on religious exercise. When those burdens are in fact justified, then the court must take the least restrictive route possible when imposing the law.

Basically, the Ohio version takes what previously only applied to federal statutes and applies it to state laws. A 1997 Supreme Court case ruled that Congress could not mandate how state laws should be interpreted, which kept more power with the individual states. However, the court ruling encouraged states to implement their own RFRA laws.

If passed, Ohio would join 18 other states that have already approved the measure.

The diversity of views and opinions – whether they be political, personal, religious or otherwise – is what makes this country so special and is a fact that all Americans should celebrate. I was proud to join several other cosponsors because I think this act puts in place important protections for religious expression.

Rep. Burkley may be reached by calling 614-644-5091, e-mailing Rep82@ohiohouse.gov or writing to State Representative Tony Burkley, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Commissioners pass nearly $5 million county budget
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 4:42 PM

By JIM LANGHAM • Progress Feature Writer

PAULDING – Early Monday morning, Paulding County commissioners took legislative action to pass the 2014 Paulding County general fund budget amounting to $4,945,076.22.

Grover Hill robbery suspects apprehended
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 4:36 PM
James Reynolds (left) and Trent Webster.

FT. JENNINGS – Two area men wanted in a pair of recent robberies, including one in Grover Hill, were apprehended Monday evening.

Arrested were:

James R. Reynolds, age 34, of Ft. Jennings.

Trent A. Webster, age 49, of Van Wert.

The latest robbery occurred early Sunday morning at Rambler’s Roost on Lincoln Highway in Van Wert County.

Deputies identified Webster as the man who entered Rambler’s Roost just before 2 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 and told an employee to give him the money. The suspect told the employee that someone else was waiting outside and there would be problems if the money was not handed over.

Reynolds was only a person of interest in this robbery, but also was wanted in an Oct. 4 robbery at Ross’ Gas Station in Grover Hill.

The getaway vehicle in that robbery had the same description as the vehicle at Rambler’s Roost – a 1995-2000 Ford Explorer, possibly an Eddie Bauer edition with a tan body with a blue top.

A warrant for Reynolds’ arrest for second degree felony aggravated robbery in the Grover Hill incident was issued in Paulding County.

Late Monday, Putnam County Sheriff Michael Chandler issued a press release, saying that investigators from Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division assisted Paulding and Van Wert County sheriff’s offices in the investigation of the two robberies that occurred in Paulding and Van Wert counties over the past two months. His investigators were able to obtain reliable information on the location of Reynolds and Webster.

On Dec. 16, a search warrant was obtained and executed for a residence located at 25751 US 224, Ft. Jennings. Deputies from Putnam, Paulding and Van Wert counties executing the search warrant were able to locate the two suspects hiding in a small confined area of the residence. Both suspects were taken into custody without incident.

The investigation is continuing by Paulding and Van Wert counties’ sheriff’s offices.

Early Monday, prior to the arrests, Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers said, “Sheriff Riggenbach and I have been in communication since Sunday. We are working together as best as we can to track down these individuals.”

Landers noted leads regarding the Oct. 4 robbery in Grover Hill had gone stale, saying, “We are optimistic some new leads will come back up.”

– Reporting by Progress Editor Melinda Krick, Staff Writer Denise Gebers and Times-Bulletin Editor Ed Gebert.


Paulding Council working on year-end issues
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:22 AM

By BILL SHERRY • Correspondent

PAULDING – Paulding Village Council met on Monday, Dec. 16 and acted on several pieces of legislation.

Council heard the second reading of Ordinance 1468-13 to amend income tax portions of Ordinance 1239-00 (Ordinance). The new ordinance would increase the village income tax to 1 percent.

State approves Northwest Ohio Wind Farm in Paulding County
Monday, December 16, 2013 5:59 PM
Paulding-Putnam to retire $1 million to members
Monday, December 16, 2013 4:58 PM

PAULDING – Just in time for the holidays, Paulding-Putnam Electric Cooperative will retire $1 million in capital credits to its cooperative member-owners.

Paulding-Putnam’s board of trustees authorized the payment at its recent meeting based on the sound financial condition of the cooperative. Of the $1 million in capital credits, $330,000 will be paid out to the estates of deceased members and $670,000 will be allocated to the remaining members who received service in 1987 and/or 2012.

Current members will receive a credit on their December bills that will be mailed later this month, and past members will receive a check. The average refund for a member who had service in both 1987 and 2012 will be $53, but the exact refund is determined by the amount of electricity used during those years.

CEO George Carter pointed out, “The financial commitment of our members is recognized by our board of trustees, and is what distinguishes the cooperative business model from other utilities. This $1 million retirement will be a direct reduction in our members’ bills this month and will support our communities by putting money back into the local economy – and into the pockets of those we serve.”

The retirement of capital credits – so called because members provide capital to the cooperative for it to operate and expand – depends on the co-op’s financial status. Paulding-Putnam holds on to allocated capital credits to cover emergencies, such as a natural disaster or other unexpected events, and to expand and refurbish its electric system. This action decreases the need to raise rates or borrow money to pay for the infrastructure. After a number of years, if financial conditions permit, Paulding-Putnam may decide to retire a set amount of capital credits.

“The board of trustees is committed to fiscal responsibility for the co-op and when we are able to retire member patronage, we do so,” said board president John Saxton. “The cooperative has a long history of retiring capital credits and we are proud to do it again this year.”

If you or someone you know formerly had service with Paulding-Putnam, please call 1-800-686-2357 to update your address.