April 24, 2014

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A silver lining to Ohio's cold, snowy winter
Monday, February 17, 2014 8:44 AM

By Mary Kuhlman • Ohio News Connection

COLUMBUS - With snowbanks piled sky high, sub-zero wind chills closing schools, and four of the five Great Lakes now frozen over, it's hard to think of this year's winter as anything but miserable. However, scientists promise there is a silver lining. ?State climatologist Jeff Andreson, associate professor of geography at Michigan State University, said the deep freeze actually is very good news for the Great Lakes.

"Having ice over the cover of the lake inhibits - or prohibits, even - evaporation of free water, so this should help reduce the amount of evaporation, and of course, that would help our lake levels a little bit," Andreson said.

He pointed out that water levels have been below normal in most of the Great Lakes since the late 1990s.

It is possible the deep freeze also will help reduce the population of certain invasive insect species, he noted, such as the emerald ash borer - particularly if they didn't choose the right seasonal accommodations.

"If they had the bad fortune of overwintering on a tree or on bark, or on a location that was exposed and above the snow line, odds are that - well, there are going to be many fewer of them," he said.

As long as the snow melts at a slow rate that the ground is able to absorb, he explained, farmers will be giving thanks, because the water will be much needed later in the growing season, when the demands of plants typically exceed what the state receives in precipitation.

Report: Ohio in top 10 for solar jobs
Sunday, February 16, 2014 8:19 PM

By Mary Kuhlman • Ohio News Connection

COLUMBUS - The sun is shining on Ohio when it comes to jobs in the solar power industry.

According to a new national Solar Jobs Census, more than 3,800 Ohioans were working in the solar sector in 2013, a 31 percent increase from the year before.

Christian Adams, a state associate for Environment Ohio, said the progress is directly related to policies that encourage solar energy development - including Senate Bill 221, which requires utilities to invest in clean energy.

"That's really been a huge boon for the development of renewable energy in Ohio," he said. "Since that law was passed in 2008, we've seen that kind of robust growth, year in and year out. So, it's a continuation of that trend."

Adams said cities can play a huge role in growing the state's solar-energy market. He pointed to Cincinnati, which passed a resolution aiming to install solar on one in five rooftops by 2028 and develop new financing programs for residential rooftop and commercial solar markets.

"Cincinnati's been leading the way across the state for putting installations in its own city buildings," Adams said, "and now, it's really taking that knowledge and helping commercial customers and everyday homeowners invest more in solar energy."

Only a small fraction of energy still comes from the sun, he said, adding that while Ohio has policies that encourage clean-energy growth, even more can be done.

"If you look at states like New Jersey or Massachusetts, these aren't states with a ton more sunshine or rooftops than Ohio has," he said, "yet they're beating us in the national rankings, and that all comes down to the robustness of their policy."

The analysis released by The Solar Foundation found almost 20 percent growth in solar employment nationally since September 2012. That rate is 10 times faster than the overall national employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same time period.

The state-by-state analysis is online at thesolarfoundation.org/solarstates.

Sheriff’s office now offering updates through Nixle, Twitter
Friday, February 14, 2014 5:05 PM


PAULDING – On Friday, Sheriff Jason Landers announced the addition of two new means of communication within the sheriff’s office.

“My staff has created accounts with Nixle and Twitter, to go along with the current Facebook account that has been in place for more than a year,” Landers said.

Nixle is a service that is free to public safety agencies, and is utilized to get information out to subscribers instantly. This is the same system that the Paulding County EMA office uses to get information out to the public during weather related events.

“My goal is to utilize these sources of communicating to alleviate literally hundreds of phone calls my emergency dispatchers take during inclement weather,” said Sheriff Landers.

Anyone wishing to sign up to receive future messages from the sheriff’s office should log on to www.nixle.com and follow the “sign up free” link, or simply text your ZIP code to 888777 to only receive SMS messages.

Those who are currently a subscriber of the Paulding EMA do not have to subscribe again.

This system works off of ZIP codes, meaning anyone registered under the 45879 ZIP code will receive any message sent to that ZIP code from either agency.

For anyone wanting to follow the sheriff’s office on Twitter, log into your account and search for @sheriffpaulding. Please don’t confuse the local office with Paulding County, Georgia.

In order to follow Landers’ office on Facebook, log into your account and search for www.facebook.com/PauldingCountySheriffsOffice and click “Like.”

“I believe in order to reach the citizens of this county in a timely fashion, I have to take this office to the next level of communication which is on the Internet and cellular. We have created a very nice website at www.pauldingohsheriff.com and now we will venture further into social media,” Landers said.

“Please bear with me as I decide what is appropriate for this type of communication. I am always open for suggestions as well.”

The sheriff said he does not monitor these sites personally; the dispatch staff oversees this along with their daily obligations. If anyone tries to reach out to the sheriff or his staff via these sites and need something addressed quickly, do not assume they will see a request in a timely manner. Instead, Landers said, use the office number at 419-399-3791 or dial 911 in the event of an emergency.


Paulding-Putnam Electric board approves rate revision
Friday, February 14, 2014 3:33 PM

PAULDING – At their regular meeting on Feb. 13, the Paulding-Putnam Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees approved several rate revisions for their members.

“The board approved a revision to the residential rates that will increase rates approximately 4 percent for all residential members,” said George Carter, Paulding-Putnam CEO/general manager. “The average residential member will see their electric bill increase about $6 per month, which will include both a change to the monthly service charge and the distribution energy charge.”

Carter noted that the generation and transmission portion of the billing will not be affected.

John Saxton, board president, called the increase necessary because of two main factors.

“First, the cooperative is committed to improving reliability and service to members. Our investment in the poles, wires, transformers and other infrastructure must continue to meet member needs,” said Saxon. “Second, our power costs continue to increase. In 2013 alone, we saw an additional 2 percent increase from our suppliers.”

In the past five years, the cooperative has invested more than $26 million into the infrastructure needed to serve the members. Carter stated that plans are being made for the next construction cycle and he expects an additional $20 million to be invested over the next four years.

The new rates will become effective with the billing statements members will receive in March. The increase will not only affect residential rates, but will also impact the other rates as well. Members are encouraged to visit the cooperative’s website at www.ppec.coop for more information on the revision.

Grand jury indicts 9 in February
Friday, February 14, 2014 1:53 PM

PAULDING – A Paulding County grand jury returned indictments against nine persons on Thursday, Feb. 13.

New 2014 crop insurance guidelines for cover crops
Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:31 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced updated guidance providing producers more flexibility when insuring a crop that follows a cover crop in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

RMA changed federal crop insurance provisions concerning cover crops as a result of increasing interest in this conservation practice.

According to Brian Frieden, director of the Risk Management Agency’s Springfield Regional Office, the changes are a result of a coordinated effort with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to develop a consistent, simple and flexible policy across the three agencies.

“For farmers wanting to insure their spring crop following a cover crop in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio the cover crop must have been planted within the last 12 months and terminated at, or within five days after planting, but before crop emergence,” noted Frieden. “Cover crops may also be hayed, grazed or used for silage as long as the planned amount of biomass is available at the time termination.”

Producers using cover crops are encouraged to discuss these changes with their crop insurance agent when making decisions for the upcoming crop year.

A cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement. For the 2014 crop year, crops planted following a cover crop are insurable as long as the cover crop is managed and terminated according to the Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Cover Crop Termination Guidelines and Cover Crop Termination Zones Map.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. Contact a local crop insurance agent for more information about the program. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers or on the RMA website at www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/.