A nod and wink to Logan County history

ReubenMees Fall2016

REUBEN MEES

History is a wonderful thing.

It winks its eye all around us — a secret signal that only those who know its secrets can see.

Having lived the majority of my life in Logan County, I’ve come to uncover some of those secrets and have even enjoyed telling tales to friends from out of the area or individuals blissfully unaware of the history.

I think I was in fourth grade — or maybe it was James Hiett’s seventh-grade Ohio history class — that I first heard the tale of the founding of Bellefontaine. The stories of Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket, which at the time involved being captured and forced to run a gauntlet, excited my boyish imagination.

It was Blue Jacket’s cabin and the beautiful spring which gave rise to the city we now call our county seat and it was a French-speaking Canadian girl who first coined the name Bellefontaine, I would tell my friends.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that Logan County is a much larger place than I first imagined and I’ve been surrounded by these wonderful tales for far longer than I have realized.

Spending Sunday afternoons in my youth playing cowboys and Indians on a farm along the Stony Creek outside of DeGraff, I never knew how close I was to the spot where pioneers Simon Kenton, Col. William Ward and Col. James McPherson came upon a secret council of the real life Indian chief Tecumseh.

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Issue 2: Another lesser of 2 evils choice

ReubenMees Fall2016

Every year I go to the polls, I seem to be faced with the same decision: Which of the two bad options is the lesser of two evils?

That’s just as much a dilemma going into this Tuesday’s election as it was during the 2016 presidential race.

This year, however, it’s not about which ill-suited individual will lead but whether or not bad policy is better than no policy at all.

The issue in question, of course, is the confusing statewide Issue 2, or the Drug Price Relief Act as it has been dubbed by its proponents.

More than $100 million has been pumped into advertising campaigns for and against the referendum — with a constant bombardment of television ads and printed mailings arriving daily.

The proponents, on one hand, point out that prescription drug manufacturers are raking in money hand over fist by overcharging Americans for medication. True. They fail to disclose, however, that the lawyers who are funding Issue 2 will be allowed to sue the state of Ohio at taxpayer expense if the referendum becomes law.

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

No winners — only lessons — in Tri County case

ReubenMees Fall2016

REUBEN MEES

Clearly there were no winners in the collapse of the Tri County Community Action Commission, but at least there is now some degree of closure.

Earlier this week, the former executive director Denise Birt entered a plea and agreed to pay back $75,000 that was overpaid her in regular installments over a decade during which the organization crumbled. But it is far from a victory for the taxpayers or the local businesses that have suffered as a result of the irresponsible management of the agency.

The non-profit organization, born of the community action movement set in motion by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 celebrated its 50th birthday during the past three years of turmoil, but it is now no more than an entity in name only — existing for the sole purpose of trying to settle debts still owed to vendors that were never paid and government agencies that still question whether the money they provided was spent as intended.

Fortunately, however, the services Tri County once provided in Logan, Champaign and Shelby counties have continued under the guidance of the other groups capable of managing the programs — including the Community Action Organization of Delaware, Madison and Union Counties that took over the bulk of programming; RTC Industries, which now handles Transportation Logan County; and LifeCare Alliance that delivers meals to senior citizens through the Meals on Wheels program.

Unfortunately, a number of businesses have faced significant financial loss or were never paid for goods or services provided to Tri County over the final years. Not least among those is a local bank that provided a loan on a building the organization should never have borrowed money against. A civil lawsuit is nearing settlement in the federal court system, but the bank likely still will face a financial loss, those close to the case report.

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

A reason to vote — because it sure isn’t for a president

ReubenMees Fall2016

REUBEN MEES

Presidential races always seem to be the most entertaining to watch, but my least favorite ones to actually vote.

And this year’s election is, by far, the bleakest one in my memory.

As a voter, I don’t believe voting for either one of the two major party candidates is a benefit to our country. Even my preferred third party candidate has stuck his foot in his mouth so many times in recent months I have a hard time endorsing him.

Regardless, I will probably cast my vote for him on Election Day and the glimmer of hope that some day America will get over its fascination with the lesser-of-two-evils mentality that accompanies our flawed two-party system.

For those of you who tell me I’m throwing my vote away (as you pointedly try to get me to vote for your preferred candidate), at least you can rest assured that I am not casting a vote in favor of the person you most don’t want in office.

That being said, I do still have a reason to go take part in the electoral process on Nov. 8.

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Unfinished building a symptom of larger problem

NateSmith 2013

For about a decade, the board of directors and chief of the Indian Lake EMS Joint Ambulance District eked their way along, doing little more than the bare minimum year-after-year to remain in acceptable standing with state auditors. 

From its inception, state auditors have cited the EMS district for spending money that it either could not or chose not to show it had in the bank. 

“Since the district’s board did not adopt an appropriations resolution in 2006 and 2007, all expenditures, in the amount of $361,921 and $260,952, respectively, exceeded appropriations. The failure to adopt appropriations increases the risk of deficit spending by the district,” reads a 2006-2007 state of Ohio audit of the Indian Lake EMS financials. 

Again in the 2008-2009 audit cycle, the EMS district was cited for spending money before demonstrating it had the funds in the bank.

Citing Ohio Revised Code, the audit report from ’08-’09 reads, “…no subdivision shall make any contract or give any ordering any expenditure of money unless a certificate signed by the fiscal officer is attached thereto.”

  • Written by NATE SMITH