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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

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Jobless rate down in Knox Co.

By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter

 

MOUNT VERNON - The unemployment rate for Knox County is a full two percentage points lower than it was five months ago, according to the latest report by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The ODJFS reports that the county unemployment rate for May was 3.8 percent, compared to 5.8 percent for January. Though the county rate did increase slightly from the 3.6 percent figure posted in April, local unemployment had been on the decline in recent months: 5.1 percent for February and 4.5 percent in March.

In May 2016, the county's unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. Rates in neighboring and nearby counties include: 3.7 in Franklin County, 3.1 percent in Holmes County, 3.7 percent in Licking County, 4.2 percent in Morrow County and 4.9 percent in Richland County.

Among the state's 88 counties, May 2017 unemployment rates ranged from a low of 2.8 percent in Mercer County to a high of 7.2 percent in Monroe County. Unemployment rates increased in 53 counties, decreased in 27 counties, and did not change in eight counties.

For Ohio, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in May, compared to 4.4 percent in April and 4.4 percent in May 2016, according the ODJFS report. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for May, unchanged from April but down from 4.5 percent for May 2016.

The rates quoted above are not seasonally adjusted, meaning they do not take into account factors such as weather, holidays, the harvesting of crops or other predictable, seasonal factors that can influence the labor market. Seasonal adjustments to unemployment numbers help identify underlying employment trends.

 

Local business: FT Precision makes recycling a priority

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

FREDERICKTOWN — In today's environmentally conscious world, virtually everyone recycles at some level. The motto reduce, reuse and recycle has taken hold in companies and households nationwide, but rarely does anyone attain the success rate of FT Precision.

The Fredericktown company has nearly a 99 percent recycling rate. “Landfill is under 2 percent,” said Stephanie Furnis, safety and environmental coordinator. “Most of that is cafeteria waste. For the most part, we have a good variety of people who recycle; some people just don't care.”

The recycling message is part of new employee orientation. In addition to the usual efforts involving paper, cardboard and plastic bottles, the company separates and recycles two types of aluminum used in its product, ships 7,000 pounds of plastic trays used to transport parts back to Japan for reuse and uses washable rags rather than disposable.

It installed drinking fountains conducive to refilling water bottles. The company's tracking system shows one drinking fountain has eliminated waste from 6,000 disposable bottles; the other fountain is up to 20,000.

A plastic baler handles plastic bags and shrink wrap, tool cases are recycled and tools get re-bored. When tools reach the end of their lifespan, they are recycled. Even the steel and plastic bandings on parts are recycled.

“Everything we use we think about how will it end up,” said Furnis. “When engineers buy a new piece of equipment, they are told to take into account what will happen to that equipment at the end of its lifespan.”

Much of the impetus for recycling is because FT Precision's parts are used in European cars. Europeans have a goal of 100 percent recyclable materials in their cars, largely due to space constraints for landfills.

When a car is junked in Europe, literally everything in it is recycled. FT Precision keeps an International Material Data System (IMDS) sheet for the products it makes; the IMDS tracks all of the material used in manufacturing. “They need to know 100 percent what's in it so they know how to recycle it,” explained Furnis.

Regarding the cost of recycling, Furnis said FT Precision is “in the game.” The company gets some money back from some recyclables such as cardboard and newspaper, and gets rebates from American Electric Power for switching to energy-efficient lighting and other products. “But that doesn't offset the cost of recycling,” she said.

A machine bought to recycle mop water reduced the company's water usage from 1,000 gallons a week to 300 gallons every two weeks. The machine paid for itself in two months.

The company just ordered a $10,000 machine that will save on the amount of shot blasting media used for its aluminum products. FT Precision will recoup its investment in three months.

Some things that technically qualify as landfill the company will pay to recycle. An example is the blue nitrile gloves the company uses. “The only benefit FTP sees is it's not going into a landfill,” said Furnis. “It's not cost-effective for us.”

About the only thing FT Precision does not recycle is rainwater, but the company has a storm water retention plan. The drains in the parking lot have filters that catch oil and other contaminants before the water goes into a retention pond, and oil spills are treated immediately. The company conducts water quality tests on the pond water, which is not smelly or contaminated, and controls algae with rye.

Even with a nearly 99 percent recycle rate, Furnis, employees and company officials are always on the lookout for additional ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. “We try really hard, but there's always room for improvement,” said Furnis.

Goals for improvement include switching to lighting sensors to reduce CO2 emissions (the company is on target for this goal by 2020), trying to find more efficient air guns to reduce energy loss and light harvesting, lighting based on the number of people in a room at a given time. Furnis said it is good to control where and how you recycle 20,000 pounds of aluminum waste, but the big question is why have the scrap to begin with?

 

MV Council continues discussion on Income tax increase and Home rule government

 By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — At their Monday night meeting, city council members gave a first reading to two pieces of legislation that, long-term, could be related. It is reasonably certain that council will pass one piece of legislation; the fate of the other is up in the air.

Council members held two separate committee meetings on Monday to discuss proposed issues for the November ballot. The first is a ½ percent increase in the city's income tax; the second is whether to create a commission to study changing from a statutory government to a charter government.

Due to the dire financial challenges facing the city, council members agree that the most prudent course of action is a ½ percent increase to the income tax. The tax applies only to earned income, not to dividend or Social Security income. The ½ percent will generate around $3.4 million: 40 percent will go to roads/bridges; 40 percent to the general fund, principally for police and fire; and 20 percent to capital improvement (buildings/equipment).

A ½ percent tax already in force is dedicated to police and fire; it no longer brings in enough money to cover the police and fire budgets, so the general fund has been subsidizing the budgets. Councilman Sam Barone said the 40 percent from the increase earmarked for the general fund will help cover the subsidy amounts. He said that hopefully that extra income will allow the city to increase the shifts at the fire department as discussed when the city took on coverage of Liberty Township.

Councilwoman Nancy Vail wants to specify that of the 40 percent going into the general fund, 10 percent will go to police, 10 percent to fire and 20 percent to the general fund. “I really feel the general public wants specifics,” she said.

Councilmen John Francis and John Booth prefer the less specific ballot language. “As it sits now, if fire needs 20 percent, it can come out of the general fund. If it's specified at 10 percent, we don't have that flexibility,” said Francis.

“My concern is that 20 years from now, things change. Council can't change,” said Booth. “Once you nail it down, if you have surplus here and need it over there, you can't transfer it.”

The charter government issue, also called home rule, might financially affect the city. “When you look at charter government, there is a kinship. Charter government does create opportunities for long-term efficiencies,” said Barone. “This just gives the voters the opportunity to look at the subject and possibly put it on the ballot in 2018.”

Barone said that one recommendation the commission may have is to not change the current structure at all, which you can do under home rule, but home rules gives flexibility to not be ruled by the Ohio Revised Code and thus state mandates. “I think the possibilities of more flexibility going forward are immense,” he said.

“I am for [charter government], but in my opinion, this is a battle we don't need right now. I think we should pull [this piece of legislation],” said Booth. “This is not critical; the tax is critical and that's my point.”

Councilwoman Susan Kahrl agreed with Booth, noting that names of those wishing to serve on the commission have to be submitted by September. “Council has to explain that as well as the tax increase,” she said.

Vail said she is not certain that efficiencies will be attained through charter government. “Columbus has a charter government. If you want to see what charter government does, look at Columbus,” she said.

Francis agreed the charter government issue could take away from the energy of the income tax effort. “I don't want to worry about people asking me about charter government,” he said.

He suggested putting the charter government issue on the March ballot. Barone agreed that might be an alternative but noted the commission would have to work very diligently to have a recommendation ready by the November 2018 election.

Mount Vernon resident Chris Menapace, speaking later during the committee meeting on medical marijuana, cautioned council not to “discount the residents' ability to handle more than one [issue] at a time.”

 

City proposes selling American National Can property to Area Development Foundation

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Although the city has not yet officially closed on the former American National Can property, plans are being made to clean, market and develop the land.

The initial agreement with BTB, the company that was going to develop the site for solar, was that if anything happened, the city would buy the site from BTB for $1. The solar site did not materialize, and the city bought the land. Mayor Richard Mavis asked council to consider extending the same deal to the ADF, selling the property to the ADF for $1.

Of the 40-acre parcel, the city will retain about 16 acres around the dikeway. For the remaining 28 acres, the city will let the Area Development Foundation take the lead.

Jeff Harris, president of the ADF, told council on Monday night that the ADF has agreed to assume the expense of cleaning up the site. He said the onsite 8-acre concrete pad, water, electric, sewer and rail are attributes that make the site shovel ready. He said that JobsOhio, a private, nonprofit corporation designed to create jobs and attract capital investment in Ohio, is creating an inventory of shovel-ready sites, and he has requested that JobsOhio visit the ANC site for inclusion on the list.

Another attraction to prospective buyers is the proximity to the Siemens site. The consultant's recommendation for the Siemens complex is to turn the back portion into an industrial site for several users, what Harris is calling “CooperWorks.” He said that CooperWorks to the east of the railroad and ANC to the west makes “a very compelling marketing pitch.”

He also noted that proximity to the city offers benefits such as the ability of corporate leaders staying at the Grand Hotel, as well as workers, to walk to the site.

Harris said that allowing the ADF to step into the role of commercial developer benefits the city in several ways:

*It aligns with ADF's mission.

*ADF has institutional knowledge of jobs and development.

*ADF will list with a commercial broker.

*ADF will put its own resources into development.

*ADF will hire unarmed security to supplement police department efforts.

The cost estimate to the ADF is considerable:

*Nominal acquisition costs by partnering with the city

*Site clearing, including trees that have begun to grow, could cost tens of thousands.

*A 7 percent broker's commission when the site is sold

*Carrying costs of about $31,000 a year

 

Harris said the ADF can handle carrying costs for three to five years, the time frame he estimates it might take to sell the property. Acknowledging the property is not for everybody, Harris said it will probably be a national business looking at MLS listings that has the money to handle brownfield-site covenants.

MOUNT VERNON — Although the city has not yet officially closed on the former American National Can property, plans are being made to clean, market and develop the land.
 
The initial agreement with BTB, the company that was going to develop the site for solar, was that if anything happened, the city would buy the site from BTB for $1. The solar site did not materialize, and the city bought the land. Mayor Richard Mavis asked council to consider extending the same deal to the ADF, selling the property to the ADF for $1.
 
Of the 40-acre parcel, the city will retain about 16 acres around the dikeway. For the remaining 28 acres, the city will let the Area Development Foundation take the lead.
 
Jeff Harris, president of the ADF, told council on Monday night that the ADF has agreed to assume the expense of cleaning up the site. He said the onsite 8-acre concrete pad, water, electric, sewer and rail are attributes that make the site shovel ready. He said that JobsOhio, a private, nonprofit corporation designed to create jobs and attract capital investment in Ohio, is creating an inventory of shovel-ready sites, and he has requested that JobsOhio visit the ANC site for inclusion on the list.
 
Another attraction to prospective buyers is the proximity to the Siemens site. The consultant's recommendation for the Siemens complex is to turn the back portion into an industrial site for several users, what Harris is calling “CooperWorks.” He said that CooperWorks to the east of the railroad and ANC to the west makes “a very compelling marketing pitch.”
 
He also noted that proximity to the city offers benefits such as the ability of corporate leaders staying at the Grand Hotel, as well as workers, to walk to the site.
 
Harris said that allowing the ADF to step into the role of commercial developer benefits the city in several ways:
*It aligns with ADF's mission.
*ADF has institutional knowledge of jobs and development.
*ADF will list with a commercial broker.
*ADF will put its own resources into development.
*ADF will hire unarmed security to supplement police department efforts.
 
The cost estimate to the ADF is considerable:
*Nominal acquisition costs by partnering with the city
*Site clearing, including trees that have begun to grow, could cost tens of thousands.
*A 7 percent broker's commission when the site is sold
*Carrying costs of about $31,000 a year
 
Harris said the ADF can handle carrying costs for three to five years, the time frame he estimates it might take to sell the property. Acknowledging the property is not for everybody, Harris said it will probably be a national business looking at MLS listings that has the money to handle brownfield-site covenants.

Around Ohio: Bellville 10 year old's body found in pond

BELLVILLE - A 10 year old Bellville girl's body was found face down in a small pond in a field at the back of a Gatton Rocks Road nursery business Monday afternoon. According to a report from the Richland County Sheriff's Office the child's mother said her daughter and her son were out playing with a group of children. The group went back to the pond to play.

The business owner discovered Kassidy Crandall's body in the pond, took off his shoes, went in and pulled her out of the water. She was transferred to Mansfield Ohio Health by EMS personnnel. The girl's mother, Tracy Schwartz, and her 9 year old son were taken to the hospital where a chaplain was waiting for them.

 

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