Promote the successes
of the Drug Task Force
To the editor:
After a quick survey of drug related articles pertaining to Columbiana County, there are an astonishing number of investigations, indictments, and arrests all being attributed to the expansion of the county drug task force (DTF), as well as other police drug units.
It has been well publicized that the county DTF has had several new additions to the force, including officers from the following communities: Wellsville, East Palestine, Leetonia, and Columbiana. Also, the emergence of several new canine units within the county has been made known to the public, specifically the Columbiana County Sheriff's department welcoming Jesy, their canine deputy.
With the rise in these specialized drug units, the county has seen a drastic increase in the number of drug related investigations, indictments, and arrests.
According to the county prosecutor's office, the number of drug crime indictments nearly doubled in 2013 and is only expected to increase. This correlation appears to be the direct result of the efforts made by county Prosecutor Robert Herron and county commissioners who have remained loyal advocates of the county DTF.
Prosecutor Herron has continued to fight for funding that is allocated by county commissioners. This funding program, which provides thousands of dollars to police departments that assign officers to the DTF, began in late 2012.
This program is perhaps one of the county's greatest implementations on fighting the war on drugs, especially since most crimes within the county are related to drugs in some way. The effects of this program continue to be seen as a meth lab was recently raided in downtown Lisbon near the high school. It is accomplishments such as these that resonate positively within the county and should continue to be reported.
However, aside from normal publicity, the community should take it upon themselves to advertise this newly-acquired strength. Advertisement works and has proven an effective deterrent for crime. Consider the advertisements on local gas pumps that state: "If you steal this (gasoline), then we're going to take this (driver's license)" or the "drive sober or get pulled over" and "stay alive, don't text and drive" slogans. These serve as advertisements for legal purposes, attempting to instill adherence to the law by means of deterrence. According to billboardmart.com, Columbiana County has 134 billboards.
This figure should be 135 by adding a new billboard advertising our improved efforts made by the county DTF and other local police departments.
The time has come to not just expand the DTF, but also community awareness, especially to those individuals who feel as though the county is an ideal drug zone. The county's recent success in winning the battles and eventually this war on drugs deserves to be magnified through advertisement.
Don't use letters to ed to spread rumors, hearsay
To the editor:
In the last month I have seen four letters regarding the United Local School District Permanent Improvement levy. Two of these letters seemed to be designed to stir the pot using misinformation or partial information. The other letters were factual, point by point rebuttals.
I am very concerned by the divide that is occurring in our community regarding this issue. United Local is a rural district. Our school not only serves to educate our children, it is the social center of our community and should bring us together, not cause division.
In the 18 years I have lived here, I have always been impressed with pride people have shown in their school and community.
If you have concerns regarding the management of the district, please take the time to engage the administration or board members. Please do not use this forum to spread secondhand stories or hearsay that are only intended to cause controversy.
discusses renewal levy
To the editor:
This is a response from United Local superintendent Steven Viscounte to a recent letter to the editor sent by Karen Griffith published March 30.
Her comments are in italics, his response in plain type.
Once again United Local School District is going after your money. On May 5 a permanent improvement levy is going on the ballot. Seriously, take an honest look at those operating your school and how they distribute your money before you consider giving them more money to do with as they want.
This is a five-year renewal of a permanent improvement levy approved in 1984. If passed, the results are no new taxes. Homestead and Rollback exemptions are still given. If this levy fails, then the school district will lose that revenue.
Fall of 2013, no raises were given to teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other workers.
Certified employees received an average step of 3.66 percent, if eligible or a stipend of $500;
Classified employees received an average step of 2.2 percent, if eligible and a stipend of $750.00.
New bus drivers get no insurance.
Bus drivers work 22.50 hours per week for nine months. Under terms of the contract, part-time employees are not eligible for insurance.
Yet the administration and board members all received a raise, plus health insurance was offered.
Administrators received either a 3.5 percent step, if eligible, a stipend of $500 or a 2 percent longevity step for those past 12 years of experience. All administrative staff work 40 hours a week, for 11 or 12 months, are considered full-time and are eligible for medical insurance benefits.
Board members have not received an increase in their compensation since January 2006. They are compensated according to Ohio Revised Code 3313.12 and 3311.19.
Why was health insurance offered to school board members? If they are working people they have company insurance or Obamacare. If they are retired they should have planned their insurance as their retirement.
The school district is required by Ohio Revised Code to allow board members to purchase medical insurance under our group plan:
From Ohio School Board Association publication:
May a board member obtain health benefits from the district?
RC 3313.202 permits board members, spouses and dependent children to elect to participate in the health care plan provided to employees of the district. Board members who elect to participate are required to pay the full amount of the premiums, which may be deducted from amounts owed to the board member as compensation.
**United Local has one board member who participates in the insurance plan- at 100 percent their own expense.
All employees are required to do drug testing, as do most schools. But there is talk of having employees do a blood test. For what? So if something would show up they can refuse them health insurance or even fire them? It is none of the administration's or school board's business. Let alone it's an invasion of privacy. What nincompoop came up with this? Just leave people alone.
A bio-metric screening (blood testing) was offered at no charge to our employees as part of a wellness initiative. It had nothing to do with a drug testing. No one was required to participate.
Offering a Wellness program is required by the School Employees Health Care Board.
Administration is never given access to this data. It cannot be used to deny insurance benefits or fire anyone. This would be a HIPAA violation.
How about kids who can't pay for lunches are allowed to acquire a meal and then have it taken, just to receive a peanut butter sandwich instead. The food is then thrown out. Make sense to you? Not me. What about the psychological impact it can instill on these children? The embarrassment and hurt placed on them because of no money, no fault of theirs. How many do not eat at all, just to save face?
Students are permitted to borrow up to four lunches. Students are given written reminders to take home to their parents. If the students go over $10, their trays are not taken away from them. Parents are notified by a phone call. Students always have the choice of taking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich over the main dish. Salad bar or cereal and milk is another optional choice. (JoAnn Harris, cafeteria supervisor)
Why not prepare an allowance in the school budget for all meals to be paid for K-8. If allocation can be provided for athletic transportation to and from games, why not feed the students K-8 free?
United Local participates in the National School Lunch Program, a Federal reimbursement program. United receives approximately $300,000 annually from this program and is required to follow all federal guidelines in order to be eligible for the program. What is suggested in the letter is not allowable under the NSLP guidelines.
In 2011, the superintendent, board members and treasurer spent approximately $3,200 for a weekend lodging and meals in Columbus. It's only a three-hour drive from Columbus to Hanoverton. How much do you suppose has been spent in the past three years for meals and stayovers. Enough to pay for you children's lunches?
The board and administrators attended the Ohio School Board Association annual capital conference. Most schools participate in this educational workshop. The conference is three nights and four days. All members attended sessions daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and brought back information that was then reported at the December board meeting.
Talk is United needs 16-18 new buses. Nothing wrong with replacing buses, but why wait until you need that many at once. Why not four or five at different stages? Poor management?
United Local has a management plan for bus replacement. We purchase buses on a rotation basis. Buses are purchased from the Permanent Improvement Levy up for renewal on May 6, 2014. In fact, in February 2014, we took delivery of our newest bus.
Two classrooms taken and turned into offices for Viscounte and secretary at a cost of over $500,000. How do they benefit the students? Why not make improvements and upgrades to benefit the student body, not the administrative body.
The recent renovation contract for $500,000 included the following construction projects:
Junior High School window replacement (34 windows);
Double door entrance replacement (five entrances);
Junior high roof replacement (23,700 square feet);
Automation system head upgrade Tridium System;
Administration office renovation offices for six people
All of these expenditures benefited our student body in various ways.
United Local Schools
It's ultimately up to
parents to guide children
To the editor:
Parents are not responsible for educating their children about poor eating habits, drug and alcohol abuse, and the importance of good grades. That is the responsibility of the local educational system. No it's not! It's the sole responsibility of the parents not teachers. Teachers are paid to educated students not to be parents!
What is astonishing is that many parents seemed to be more obsessed with the quality of food in the school vending machines and the cafeteria, than that of their child's education. The majority of students are going to have one meal and maybe a snack while in school. This certainly doesn't contribute to a child's chance of becoming obese. Childhood obesity starts at home.
Society is to blame for my child's drug and alcohol abuse problem. My local school system should be educating my child about the importance of a drug and alcohol free life. Yes the school systems can continue to inform students about the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. But, it's the parent's responsibility to communicate to their children, at an early age, how important it is to avoid drugs and alcohol. Educating children about drugs and alcohol starts at home.
Over the years I've heard parents expressed their outrage over their kids falling grades blaming it on teachers, layoffs and bigger class room sizes. Children need to be educated at home as well as in school. In fact it's more important that a child has the continuing educational support, at an early age, of his or her parents or guardian. The importance of a good education starts at home.
Have to come up with
version of war bonds
To the editor:
Scott Rasmussen wrote an editorial in this paper March 3 that captured my attention. It was in reference to our national debt. I quote, "The problem is that both political parties have failed to solve the challenges before our nation, but the truth is they can't."
He continues "To solve the challenges facing our nation we need an all hands approach that unleashes creativity and resources of individual Americans, community groups, small businesses, state and local governments, and more."
Rasmussen says this will mean a smaller role for the federal government, but it will put the problem solving where it belongs-with the American people. I wonder if the American people are willing to meet such a challenge?
World War II found us in desperate shape. Not only were we outclassed by our adversaries, but our treasury as usual was running on fumes. We had to have money to build up a war machine, lots of money, because our very existence was at stake.
The answer was war bonds. The people rallied and purchased millions in bonds. Every where you went you found signs. "Buy US War Bonds." It was a massive program and it worked.
Today we are faced with an economy that is stretched to a breaking point. If we don't do something now to relieve the pressure the bobble is going to break and according to the learned economists this country will experience the worst depression since 1929. I was around and I remember.
LEON J. WHITE,