2010-07-31 / News

North Shore Boat Ramp is rededicated

By Scott Rawdon

(Left to right) State Representative Dan Dodd, Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker, Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation Acting Chief John Hunter, ODNR Deputy Director Tony Celebrezze, Ohio Division of Watercraft Chief Pam Dillon, Ohio Division of Wildlife Stream Conservation Program Administrator John Navarro, Past Buckeye Lake Area Civic Association President Merv Bartholow, and Parks Regional Manager Tim Waln dedicate North Shore Boat Ramp improvements July 22. Beacon photo by Scott Rawdon. (Left to right) State Representative Dan Dodd, Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker, Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation Acting Chief John Hunter, ODNR Deputy Director Tony Celebrezze, Ohio Division of Watercraft Chief Pam Dillon, Ohio Division of Wildlife Stream Conservation Program Administrator John Navarro, Past Buckeye Lake Area Civic Association President Merv Bartholow, and Parks Regional Manager Tim Waln dedicate North Shore Boat Ramp improvements July 22. Beacon photo by Scott Rawdon. BUCKEYE LAKE – A record number of boats were registered in Ohio last year and Buckeye Lake’s North Shore Boat Ramp is ready for them, said Ohio Division of Watercraft Chief Pam Dillon.

She spoke July 22 morning during a formal dedication of improvements made to the North Shore Boat Ramp. The ceremony included Division of Parks and Recreation Acting Chief John Hunter, ODNR Deputy Director Tony Celebrezze, Buckeye Lake Regional Manager Tim Waln, and a ribbon cutting.

“Boating access is the number one request of boaters,” said Dillon. She said boaters provide the vast majority of funding for boat ramps, but everyone benefits from beautiful facilities like Buckeye Lake’s.

“This was a huge project,” said Waln. The entire project cost $710,000 with the Division of Watercraft providing $472,500, the Division of Wildlife providing $212,500 and Parks and Recreation providing $25,000.

According to an ODNR news release, the project to improve the North Shore ramp began in 2005 and was completed in two phases. The first phase involved elements designed to improve to efficiency of the launch facility and its accessibility for persons with disabilities. The facility’s entrance was widened and makeready and tie-down lanes were added. A two-lane ramp was reconstructed and widened to three lanes. Two sets of all new docks meeting current design guidelines replaced a single string of boarding docks. The parking area was expanded.

The second phase provided even more parking and new asphalt, and courtesy and personal watercraft-compatible floating docks.

Waln said there was no specific incident or accident that led to the boat ramp’s improvements. “Parks and Watercraft were on the same page for wanting some improvements to this facility,” he said. “No specific incident, we just wanted an improved ramp, better (traffic) flow, better docks, and more parking for park guests.”

Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker said the North Shore improvements are “one more spoke in the wheel” to improving all of Buckeye Lake Village’s downtown area, like the recent installation of public water and the anticipated construction of the Waterfront Grill restaurant near the North Shore Boat Ramp.

“The boaters will certainly help future businesses,” said Baker, who hopes present and future business development will convince boaters to spend time and money in the Village of Buckeye Lake, and not just head directly to I-70 from the water.

“The new dock was a much needed addition to the Queen of the Lake II,” said J-me Braig, Buckeye Lake Museum director and captain of the Queen of the Lake II tour boat, which launches from the North Shore Boat Ramp. The museum sponsors lake tours. “Her length at 46 feet did not fit properly on any of the docks that were there,” said Braig. She said the new docks provide safety to the passengers and the ramp enables safe loading for wheelchairs.

The Queen of the Lake and its volunteers have taken more than 7000 passengers on tours over the last three years. “To have a beautiful state park where they can park their cars, use the facilities and board (the Queen of the Lake II) safely was much needed. Our location, right off I-70, makes us the perfect destination stop. We’re ecstatic!”

MILLERSPORT – “Ohio is on track to be $8 billion in the hole,” Superintendent Ron Thornton told Walnut Township School Board members Monday night.

Ohio must approve a new two-year budget by July 1, 2011. The current budget was balanced with some $8 billion in federal stimulus that isn’t expected to be available next year. That means significant cuts may be in store, including state support for education.

Thornton discussed the situation with district treasurer Kirk Grandy. “We felt we need to be proactive,” Thornton explained. He outlined a projected $295,117 savings for next year, allowing the district to build some reserves for potential state cuts the following year. If the state cuts are made, the district won’t have to ask local taxpayers for more money to make up the shortfall.

About 60 percent of the savings comes from six teachers taking advantage of an early buy-out option negotiated in the last teachers’ contract. All six had at least 30 years service and were at the top of their respective salary scales. One of the six will return after retirement, but Walnut Township requires rehired retirees to start at zero years on the step scale. The other five teachers will be new teachers, all starting at zero years.

The district’s only full-time maintenance worker has retired. Grandy projects a more than $60,000 savings from not replacing him. Maintenance/transportation supervisor Mike Washburn has agreed to take over most of his responsibilities. He hopes preventative maintenance coupled with more detailed scheduling and work assignments for the district’s part-timers will fill the void. That savings will be partially offset by a relatively small supplemental contract for Washburn for some after hours and weekend work. “The prudent thing in this economy is to see if we can do without him,” Thornton said.

Part of elementary school principal Angie Harrison’s salary will paid by the Fairfield County Education Service Center as she takes over as the district’s curriculum coordinator. She was already involved in that process and the district will save about $16,000 a year with the partial salary pickup.

A retiring bus driver won’t be replaced, saving nearly $31,000 a year. The cost for the driver’s medical insurance exceeded his nearly $13,000 salary. A full-time employee in the treasurer’s office who also has a bus driver certification will replace him. She will continue to work in the treasurer’s office. A voluntary reduction in hours by an accounting staffer will save another $3,000 a year.

Thornton pointed out that the $295,000 savings is more than any single district levy. Board members unanimously agreed with the changes.

In other business Monday night, Harrison explained two changes to the elementary school student-parent handbook. First, pajama pants have been banned except for special days. Some students were wearing the pajamas they wore to bed to school the next day. Harrison said it is a cleanliness and health issue.

Second, some teeth have been put in the tardy policy. The principal now may issue a recess or after school detention for excessive tardies. “We need to send a message to parents that school is important,” Harrison explained. “Now at least I can talk to parents about those issues.”

HIgh school principal Charles Leedle said a trophy case in storage is being refurbished to serve as a junior high trophy case. The art room will have six new tables to begin the new school year and a sociology class has been added. A Meet Your Teacher Night for parents and students has been set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 19. Leedle plans to run a regular schedule that evening with each period lasting 5-10 minutes. Students will be able to get their schedules that night.

Thornton’s proposal to add a junior high school athletic director drew quite a bit of comment. He said the proposal is a reaction to continuing criticism about the lack of administrative coverage at some athletic contests. “You can’t be in two places at once,” Thornton added. High school athletic director Scott Pohman coaches at Denison University in the spring.

Thornton believes it is important to keep Pohlman in the post to maintain the district’s continuity in the Mid-State League. “Mid State is in the midst of expanding or realigning,” Thornton explained. “It is all over the board right now.” There have been talks about a county-based leagues/divisions for Fairfield and Licking counties. But neither wants to include Millersport due to their size. “They gain nothing from playing us,” he added.

Both the largest and smallest teams in the Mid State are scared about being left out, Thornton said. He wants to keep Pohlman involved in the league discussions.

“We would probably support expanding the league rather than realigning,” Thornton said. “We need more teams our size,” Grandy added. He volunteers as the high school boys basketball coach.

Thornton proposed teacher Brett Prince as junior high school athletic director. Prince and Pohlman have agreed to work together to improve administrative coverage at sporting events. It will take some effort since Prince coaches in Newark during the winter.

“I hope we have better coverages,” Thornton told board members. “At least we are trying something.” He called the setup a trial several times. It will be relatively inexpensive. Prince will receive $4,084 a year, while Pohlman with a couple years of experience will get $4,935 a year.

Board members approved Thornton’s recommendation by a 4-1 vote, with board member Vince Popo voting “no.” Popo told The Beacon he wanted to upgrade the position to ensure better results.

Board members also approved school breakfast and lunch prices for the new school year. Prices are the same as last year. Breakfast for grades K-6 is $.75 and $1 for grades 7-12. Students qualifying for reduced price will pay $.30. Lunch or grades K-6 is $1.90 and $2.25 for grades 7-12. The reduced price is $.40.

Board members approved Dina Reasoner continuing as a volunteer advisor for the high school yearbook. “She has made a huge difference,” Thornton said. Deana Cumbow was recognized for serving as a volunteer coach for junior high cheerleading.

The board’s next regular meeting is set for 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 19 in the elementary school library. Board members will meet after serving breakfast to staff on their first day back from summer vacation.

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