COLUMBUS, OH –The Ohio Controlling Board met yesterday to approve the release of funds to state agencies and programs. State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) was a voting member of the panel yesterday afternoon in Columbus.
Among items approved for release of funds were several NatureWorks local parks projects in Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Meigs Noble, and Washington counties. NatureWorks is a grant program run by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources available to cities, villages, counties, townships, park districts, and conservancy districts for local park projects. Examples include grant money for electrical service to a boat launch facility and construction of a new pavilion.
“Our local parks improve the quality of life for our communities and are a vital component of economic development,” said Gentile. “Access to recreational opportunities can help attract businesses and other employers to the area, contributing to a stronger economy.”
Under the NatureWorks program, the state can reimburse up to 75% of acquisition, rehabilitation, development of public park and recreation areas. Since the grant’s inception, over 2300 public park projects in all 88 Ohio counties have been funded.
“We recognize the challenges that our local communities face to maintain their existing recreational assets,” Gentile said today. “This grant program will provide much needed financial assistance to communities so that they can provide recreational opportunities to their citizens.”
Below is a complete list of 30th Senate District projects that were approved for release of funding.
Athens County – Nelsonville – Addition to current walk path around football field - $42,207
Belmont County – Powhatan Point – Install electrical service throughout the Boat Launch Facility - $29,575
Carroll County – Carroll County Park District – Bluebird Farm Park Pavilion - $43,796
Harrison County – MWCD – Thirty new picnic tables in Clendening campground - $11,250
Jefferson County – Steubenville Parks & Recreation – Improve the baseball field at Rotary Park - $27,721
Jefferson County – Warren Twp Park District – Playground equipment at Township Park - $4,752
Meigs County – Pomeroy- Sugar Run Park Acquisition - $20,638
Noble County – Batesville – Community Park Renovations - $33,231
Washington County – Marietta – Upgrade playground at Lookout Park - $30,013
Columbus – Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) joined Senator Peggy Lehner (R – Kettering) in introducing Senate Bill 247 (SB 247), the Children’s Nutrition Bill. SB 247 focuses on increasing access to nutritious meals for children during the summer months when free and reduced price meals through school programs are not available.
“During the holiday season there is an increased focus on providing meals to families in need,” said Senator Brown. “Unfortunately, food insecurity is a problem year round for many families and can be particularly difficult for children during summer months when they are not in school.”
SB 247 requires school districts to permit an alternative summer meal sponsor, such as a local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club, to use school facilities to provide summer meals if the district declines to provide them itself in areas where at least one-half of the pupils are eligible for free lunches. The State Board of Education is responsible for providing a list of approved alternative summer meal sponsors to maintain quality and safety standards.
The idea for SB 247 was brought to the Ohio Senate by Children’s Hunger Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on fighting childhood hunger in all 88 counties in Ohio. By working with child care providers and breakfast, afterschool and summer meal programs, Children’s Hunger Alliance strives to ensure that children without access receive healthy food, nutrition education and physical activity.
“When school doors close, many children lose access to healthy school meals,” said Mary Lynn Foster, President & CEO of Children’s Hunger Alliance. “Summer nutrition programs help children receive healthy food, which prevents summer weight gain and summer learning loss.”
The most recent data from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) indicates over 850,000 school-aged children in Ohio are eligible for free and reduced price meals through the federal School Meal Program. Although more than 75% of eligible children access school lunches during the academic year, FRAC reports that fewer than 11% of these same children access meals through nutrition programs during summer months.
“Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation,” said Senator Brown. “I am happy to join Senator Lehner and Children’s Hunger Alliance as we work to increase access to meals for children year round.”
Columbus – Today, legislation to name a portion of the West Shoreway in Cuyahoga County in honor of former Governor Richard Celeste unanimously passed the Ohio Senate. Senate Bill 49, sponsored by Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) would rename the West Shoreway, State Route 2, as the “Governor Richard F. Celeste Shoreway.” The Celeste family made their home in the neighborhood of the West Shoreway for many years.
“I have worked for many years to pay tribute to former Democratic Governor Celeste,” said Senator Skindell. “It is an honor to know that through my efforts this portion of State Route 2 is closer to bearing the name of a great governor and great man, Richard Celeste.”
Richard Celeste has led a long and distinguished career as a public servant. He entered politics in 1970 as a State Representative before serving as Lt. Governor and then two terms as Ohio’s Governor from 1983 until 1991. Governor Celeste also served as the Director of the Peace Corps, U.S. Ambassador to India and President of Colorado College.
Senate Bill 49 now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.
COLUMBUS - Today, the Ohio Senate voted to pass an amendment to Senate Bill 200 from Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman). The amendment names a portion of State Route 7 in Mahoning County the "Army Chief Warrant Officer Donald V. Clark Memorial Highway," in honor of a Boardman High school graduate who was killed in Iraq in 2008.
“Army Chief Warrant Officer Donald Clark dedicated his career and life to keeping our nation safe,” said Senator Schiavoni. “By renaming this highway, we honor the efforts of a local hero and ensure that his memory lives on. I am happy for the family of Donald Clark that we can immortalize their son in this way.”
Donald Clark graduated from Boardman High School in 1989. He then served in the Navy until 1995 when he joined the Army. In 2008, Clark deployed to Iraq as part of the 6thSquadron, 17 Calvary Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. On November 15, 2008, Clark and Chief Warrant Officer Christian P. Humphreys were killed when their helicopter crashed during a mission over the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
Senator Schiavoni originally introduced the highway renaming as Senate Bill 221. The Clark family released the following statement at that time:
“We want to thank Senator Schiavoni for introducing this bill in honor of our son. Donald was killed in Iraq on November 15, 2008. He was raised here in Boardman and spent many miles traveling up and down Market Street to school, band, and orchestra events before graduating in 1989. Donald was proud to serve his country as a helicopter pilot. To us and his sister Deana, he is our true American hero.”
Columbus - State Senator Charleta B. Tavares is speaking out against the use of excessive and deadly force on Linwood Lambert, who was killed in 2013 in South Boston, Virginia, after police tased him repeatedly. Recently, a video of the incident surfaced in which you can see Lambert being tased multiple times by police officers, even though he is in handcuffs. Lambert had a history of mental illness and substance abuse problems. The officers had initially been taking him to the hospital to be evaluated.
“The video of Mr. Lambert is appalling; seeing someone who has mental health issues tased repeatedly by police officers is horrific,” stated Senator Tavares. “While most officers perform their duties properly, no one should be permitted to treat our mentally ill as if they have no regard for their wellbeing. Watching Mr. Lambert writhing on the ground in pain is unsettling, and we must demand better from our law enforcement officers.”
Senator Tavares is calling for more studies and testing to determine the effects of Tasers on the mentally ill and people with health irregularities. The Senator is also looking at ways to improve police training regarding when it is necessary or prudent to use a Taser to subdue someone, especially if that person struggles with mental illness.
“We know that Tasers affect those with substance abuse issues, excited delirium, and cardiovascular problems differently than they affect other people. Being tased once can mean death to an individual who suffers from these conditions,” said Senator Tavares. “We must make sure that proper testing is done so that Tasers remain a non-lethal option for everyone and the police have a better understanding of when it is appropriate to use them.”
Senator Tavares will be working on legislation to address these concerns.
COLUMBUS – State Senator Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) issued the following statement today after the Ohio Attorney General’s Office released the organizations who will receive VOCA grants.
“I am elated to see so many well-deserving organizations in my district receive funding. This grant money is invaluable. I am confident these dollars will be put to good use and the programs will continue to push toward their missions to provide for victims.”
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant programs are provided to eligible crime victim’s assistance programs operating in public and non-profit agencies throughout the state of Ohio. Homesafe Inc. in Ashtabula County, WomenSafe Inc. in Geauga County, and Help Hotline Crisis Center Inc. and Compass Family & Community Services in Trumbull County were just a few of the organizations in Senator Cafaro’s district to receive funding.
The Controlling Board will make money available for these projects. The Controlling Board provides legislative oversight over certain capital and operating expenditures by state agencies and has approval authority over various other state fiscal activities.
Columbus –Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) announced the state Controlling Board has released a total of $1,835,500.00 in funding for the University of Toledo Elevator Safety Repairs and Replacement project. This funding will allow the University to replace 40 to 50 year old elevators in two buildings on the main campus.
“I was able to view the elevators scheduled to be replaced during a legislative tour of campus in October,” said Senator Brown. “Many of the elevators were installed during construction of the buildings. I am happy to see this investment, which will decrease maintenance costs and improve safety.”
The scope of work will include the replacement of three elevators in University Hall and two elevators in the Bowman-Oddy Laboratories Building. The elevators selected were identified as most in need of replacement during a campus wide assessment.
Columbus – Today, State Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), ranking member on the Senate Education Committee, was honored by the Ohio Educational Service Centers Association for his long-standing and unwavering support for Ohio’s public school system and the network of Educational Service Centers (ESCs) across Ohio.
“Educational Service Centers serve a vital role in our public education system,” said Senator Sawyer. “Their specialized services to member school districts fill resource gaps and enhance education quality for students. There is no substitute for the work they do. Quite simply, if we didn’t have ESCs, we would have to invent them. They are that important.”
The Ohio Educational Service Center Association (OESCA) represents educators and personnel connected with Ohio ECSs, which were established in 1914 through an act of the General Assembly. ESCs seek to bolster Ohio’s education system by providing supportive services such as educator training, curriculum planning, and special education programs.
Senator Sawyer has been a leader in promoting quality statewide education policy throughout his time in the legislature. Most recently, the senator played a major role in reforming Ohio charter schools through his work on House Bill 2.
COLUMBUS—Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) sent a letter to leaders of the Ohio General Assembly and statewide office holders, asking for a collaborative effort in crafting legislation that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in Ohio.
The following is a copy of the letter, which was also sent to Governor Kasich, Auditor Yost, Secretary of State Husted, Attorney General Dewine, and all legislators in the Ohio General Assembly.
Dear President Faber and Speaker Rosenberger,
We write to invite you and all members of the Ohio General Assembly to join us in a discussion about medical marijuana with the goal of producing bipartisan legislation. Two facts emerged from this year’s election cycle: Ohioans strongly oppose monopolies in our Constitution, but they also overwhelmingly support access to marijuana for medical purposes.
In fact, there are few issues with as much statewide backing from across the political spectrum. An October 2015 Quinnipiac Poll showed Ohio voters overwhelmingly support medical marijuana by a remarkable 90% to 9%. Consequently, the rejection of Issue 3 should not be misinterpreted as an unwillingness to provide Ohio families access to additional treatment options.
Countless Ohioans have expressed an urgent need for access to the medical care now available to residents of 23 other states and the District of Columbia. It is our hope that we can all work together to enact laws that represent the will of the people. We have been drafting legislation based on best practices from other states and input from advocates that could serve as a starting point for discussions.
It is exciting to see recent news reports in which several state leaders voiced their willingness to work on this issue. As two supporters of medical marijuana, we are available and willing to collaborate with all stakeholders interested in this cause. Together, we can assist the many Ohio families who are searching for ways to alleviate the pain of chronic and debilitating diseases.
Senator Joe Schiavoni Senator Kenny Yuko
Minority Leader 25th Senate District
33rd Senate District
By Sara Guinn, Messenger staff journalist
Athens--Members of the Athens High School Student Council and a select group of district administrators, as well as parents, visited with State Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) to discuss a variety of issues in education on Monday.
Schiavoni’s stop in Athens was his third in a series of discussions he’s holding around the state. His tour has already taken him to Columbus and Akron, and in the coming weeks, he will also visit Cincinnati and Cleveland.
“We want to make sure, as legislators, folks involved in education actually have their voices heard, anybody who wants to discuss education should have the forum to do so,” Schiavoni said.
With Athens being a part of Gentile’s district, he joined Schiavoni to hear what challenges local students and administrators were facing in education.
“Our goal here is to really shed light on the fact that some of the policies coming out of Columbus have made it more and more difficult for our districts,” Gentile said.
Standardized testing was a hotly discussed issue during their meeting with the students and the administrators.
Students told the senators they didn’t understand the reason for the tests, and also added technology was an issue with administering it.
Administrators were concerned about the level stress the standardized tests added to the students, and also addressed other issues such as tying school funding to test results and the impractical nature of asking students to take math tests online.
State aid was another issue discussed, something Athens City School Supt. Tom Gibbs said is a problem for the district.
“Athens, as a community, supports their school more than any other district,” he said to the senators. “We have an income tax levy, permanent improvement levy, emergency levy, and we have a bond levy. We tax ourselves very heavily so that we can provide as much as we can possibly provide for our kids, and the state is not helping us.”
The district saw a decrease in state aid in the form of $65,000, he said, and even though 13 positions ranging from bus drivers, to classroom aides, and administrators had been reduced, the budget was still in deficit spending by nearly $446,278.
“And that’s despite the fact that local property taxpayers pay more than anyone else around,” according to Gibbs.
“We have to make sure that we get communities to understand what’s going on in Columbus,” Schiavoni said.
Coming off of the tour, Schiavoni will gather all the input received and will publish it to www.doingourhomeworkoh.org to allow school districts to compare themselves against others in the state, he said.
“If there’s a legislative fix that can come from these groups, then we’re going to move forward,” he said.
COLUMBUS - Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have launched a series of trips around the state to gather opinions from parents and educators on ways to improve education in Ohio.
Columbus—Next week, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus) will introduce legislation aimed at protecting citizens who record law enforcement and civilian involved incidents. The Eyewitness Protection Act will give a person the right to lawfully record any incident involving law enforcement or the public and to maintain custody and control of that recording and the device used to record the incident.
Columbus—Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus submitted more than 500 amendments to House Bill 64, the biennial state budget. The amendments represent the commitment of Senate Democrats to help Ohio families, grow our communities through targeted investments and increase opportunities for everyone.
Columbus—Today, State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) testified before members of the State and Local Government Committee on Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 to urge Commissioner Robert Manfred to reinstate Pete Rose to Major League Baseball. The resolution also encourages the Baseball Writers' Association to consider Pete Rose for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.