No winners — only lessons — in Tri County case

ReubenMees Fall2016


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


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

Why openness is important in meetings and officials




If a public body and its officials want citizens to trust them with their hard-earned tax dollars, the safety of their families and general health and well-being of the community, they have to be open.

People want to know how their money is being spent and why.

And they want — no, they deserve — to know who is spending that money and making the decisions that impact their families, homes and daily lives.

The State of Ohio has a set of laws in place called the Ohio Sunshine Laws that are intended to protect Ohioans’ right to know what is happening in their government.

Just this week, a small village in Logan County flaunted those laws.

  • Written by REUBEN MEES

Understanding the difference between self-defense and reckless homicide



Read the news on any given day and it’s evident that violent acts are becoming ever more commonplace in American society in recent years.

The news of a mass shooting at the Columbine High School that left 12 students, a teacher and the two teenage shooters dead just days before I started at the Examiner in 1999 once shocked the nation. School shootings now seem to happen a couple times a year somewhere in the United States.

It seems as if people are becoming numb to the idea of death by shooting — especially the notion of teenagers using weapons to kill one another.

It’s unfortunate to say, but we, as the residents of Logan County, are now facing one such case that raises interesting questions and has the ability to set a precedent about our treatment and attitudes toward acts of violence in this community.

  • Written by REUBEN MEES