April 20, 2014

Paul Ackley - Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grumpy Side of 60... Back to the drawing board

“What’s that in your ear?” The young lady was in the fifth grade. I was surprised… even third and fourth graders knew what a hearing aid was. “My hearing aid.”

“Will you take it out?” Huh? Interesting question. “Why?” She shrugged. “I’d like you to take it out.” Almost as an afterthought she said, “Please?”

“Uh… no… I need it to hear.” She thought about that for a second, then said, “you can keep the other one.” She was sitting on my left. She couldn’t see the one on my right. “No… I think I’ll keep them both. I want to make sure I can hear you really well.”

All my readers (I think I have three now) have probably figured out I miss working with the kids. I love working with my college students, and I’m really passionate about trying to bring awareness to our horrible drug problem, especially as it affects our youth. But I missed the K-12 ‘little’ ones. The Early Bird and I worked it out.

My first assignment was at the junior high. It was a shocker. I saw quite a few students I’d worked with the previous two years at South. This is junior high. You aren’t old enough to be here, I told myself. But they were… and they remembered me. I’m not sure it was always fondly. Several gave me a hi-five. “Who are you subbing for?” some asked. I told them. “Aw… darn it!” as they rushed to their next class.

One of those who expressed his disappointment showed up in my class that afternoon. Guess he wasn’t a fan. I think I figured out why. He liked to talk… and quickly learned I still have a problem with it when procedure isn’t followed.

I was at the high school this week. Got to see some of my favorite students, including a couple from my Edison classes, plus some of my favorite teachers. Mr. T is a hoot. Always a big grin and a wisecrack to brighten the day. The best part of it was being able to sub for one of my favorite classes. My biggest frustration with high school is after 50 plus years there is usually nothing I can contribute to most classes (they are way beyond my high school days, and in many cases, college days). I don’t mind with Med Tech though. Some of these kids will be taking care of me in 10 to 20 years. And they are phenomenal students!

Last week I had what someone on the “Grumpy Side of 60” would call a long day… It started at South in the morning, wrapped up at Woodland in the afternoon, then back to Woodland on assignment (Donuts with Dad) that evening. I had a blast… but I also discovered something that afternoon.

I think first graders this year are smarter than their predecessors. No different… just smarter. For instance, they still loved to talk. And talk. And talk. All of them. At once. I pulled out my bag of scenarios from the past two years and realized the only one that really worked was the “Grumpy Old Man” bit.

I used it. One young man said I was 101. A young lady said I was zero. And everywhere in between. When I told them my age (69), the response was “ho hum… so what else is new?” Several said that was their grandma or grandpa’s age. Having nowhere else to go, I moved blindly ahead with “do you want me to be a Grumpy Old Man?”… A few shrugs and one or two, “well no, not really.” And went right back to talking again.

They’re either growing them smarter or the famous Grapevine is alive and well at Woodland.

Regardless, I guess it’s back to the drawing board. I have to come up with a new gimmick.

April 17, 2014

Conquering the drug problem

Drug addiction is something that harms everybody in the community. Families suffer emotional turmoil and taxpayers have to pay the brunt of rehabilitation programs and prevention. Recently, the drug problem that faces Ohio and the entire country has been made known, which is the first step in reducing its severity. Prevention is the best way to stop the spread of addiction.

Unlike common belief, legal prescription drugs can also be addictive and just as dangerous as illegal substances when used inappropriately. The fact is that addictive prescription drugs are just prescribed too often and too much to patients experiencing pain and other ailments. These drugs often get in the hands of the wrong people and lead to addiction.

I believe in a more holistic approach to care for individuals who are addicted to drugs. We need to give people a stable foundation in which they can take charge of their recovery. Temporary housing and treatment resources are two things that can help them do this. Governor Kasich showed a commitment to fighting drug addiction with his introduced version of the Mid-Biennial Review (MBR).

The Mid-Biennial Review is a venue to discuss curbing the drug problem in Ohio. It is a top-to- bottom review of state government agencies and programs that was requested by the Governor in order to find ways that taxpayer money can be better spent and allocated more appropriately.

House Bill 369 is a part of the MBR that deals with changes to state law to help curb the drug epidemic. An amendment recently added to the bill redirects the $47.5 million appropriated in the budget to fund recovery housing, outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment through the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. House Bill 369 has passed the House and moves to the Senate for further consideration.

What we need to overcome the drug problem in Ohio is a combination of multiple fronts. We need to prevent our children and peers from trying drugs in the first place. Then we need to provide those people who are addicted with resources and professionals that will monitor and help with their healing.

By talking to families in my district, it has become clear to me that there should be no barriers in place for addressing the drug problem and there should be no route that we aren’t willing to take to stop the spread of drugs into communities. I think that all government agencies, as well as faith-based groups, should get involved to stop the drug problem.

Solving Ohio’s drug problem is important because it will promote better, stronger families and remove the additional cost caused to taxpayers by the addicted. When we provide attention to drug prevention and properly fund drug rehabilitation we will effectively remove the market for those pedaling drugs. This starts with our families at the dinner table together and spreads from there.

Please stay in touch and provide your input on the issues of the day by taking my legislative survey at tinyurl.com/buchyapril2014

April 15, 2014

Fighting on behalf of our seniors

The president’s health care law continues to wreak havoc on the seniors, families, and small businesses in our area – the people who make our corner of Ohio so great.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that 122,000 people living in the Cincinnati region alone rely on the Medicare Advantage program. Nationwide, that number is in the millions.

And because of ObamaCare, those seniors are paying higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs, as well as losing their doctor and other critical health benefits – all broken promises from President Obama.

I’ve heard from countless seniors on this issue.

Stacy and his wife live near me in West Chester, and they have had their Medicare Advantage plan for years now. Like many others, they recently lost their doctors. Stacy says that, “Any more cuts, and we may see many plans being eliminated and costs for members skyrocketing until they are entirely unaffordable.”

Remember, these are things the president specifically promised would not happen. That promise has not just been broken, but shattered.

The president continues to show that he knows ObamaCare would inflict harm on our seniors – the Obama Administration recently maneuvered to prevent the full force of its cuts to the Medicare Advantage program.

Unfortunately, the administration’s latest effort does little to address the concerns about ObamaCare’s devastating impact on Medicare.

In the House, I’m fighting on behalf of our seniors.

As part of Republicans’ long-term plan for jobs and economic growth, we recently passed a balanced budget that protects and strengthens Medicare so that we keep our word to seniors and preserve the security and peace of mind they’ve earned – that’s in addition to repealing ObamaCare and its raid on Medicare to make way for reforms that lower costs for workers, families, and small businesses.

We have called on the president and his Cabinet to develop a plan to help American seniors deal with the consequences - both now and in the future - of the president’s destructive health care law.

So far, we’ve seen no such plan.

If the president won't work with us to repeal the law and replace it with better solutions, then at a minimum, he and his allies in Congress owe the American people a plan for dealing with the consequences of these destructive policies.

April 14, 2014

Ryan's World - Get Ready for Exaggeration Day

If you have looked at a calendar lately you might have noticed there are a gazillion special days celebrated world-wide. You know the days I’m talking about, National Donut Day, National Pizza Day, Walk Like an Egyptian Day, and not to be outdone, Walk Like a Zombie Day. Then there’s the favorite of every single person in the universe, Talk Like a Pirate Day. If they are really special they get an entire week or month devoted. I want to make it a gazillion and one – I want an Exaggeration Week. We would call it a week, but would only celebrate it for one day because the name would be an exaggeration of the special day. (See how this works.)

Some might want to call it Over Exaggeration Day, but exaggerating exaggeration is a little too much exaggeration for my taste. Besides, using the phrase “over exaggerating” is one of my pet peeves and I tend to turn red in the face and throw a temper tantrum every single time I hear that term. (That is not an over exaggeration and merely an exaggeration. I usually just roll my eyes.) There is no point in ever saying something is an “over exaggeration” because you can’t “over exaggerate;” all you are doing is exaggerating. “I’ve always said ‘over exaggeration.’ It’s the correct way to say it. Ryan you’re an idiot,” you might say. If you prefer to be wrong I’m fine with that, but remember I am right approximately 233% of the time (that is not an exaggeration, unless you ask my wife, daughters, co-workers, friends, high school algebra teacher or the person who invented percentages).

“But what about using ‘over’ or ‘overly’ as a prefix to other words,” you ask. (You sure are asking a lot of questions during this column.) I don’t have a problem with using phrases like ‘over’ used or ‘overly’ stupid. Over Exaggerate is definitely ‘over’ used and there are times when calling someone stupid isn’t sufficient and you need to exaggerate just how stupid they really area. Unfortunately, calling some people ‘overly stupid’ is not an exaggeration.

When we should hold Exaggeration Week? Since this will be the most spectacular of all the special days, it has to be at a time of year when exaggeration is at its highest. I’ve painstakingly researched this for the past couple of months. (Not so much researched as thought about it. Did I say months? I meant minutes.) I’ve narrowed it down to a few times of the year. First is anytime during fishing season, which doesn’t really narrow anything down because people actually fish when it’s cold – on the ice. This is one of those times when you can use the term ‘overly stupid’ and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

We could also choose Valentine’s Day. As guys most often do we like to outdo other guys and try to find the biggest and best. “My teddy bear is bigger than your teddy bear.” We want our lady to know we care by giving her something that will eventually end up in a garage sale. We take her out to a nice dinner, sing Debbie Boone’s “You Light up My Life” on the way to the restaurant and then give her a card that expresses a lovely, almost makes you want to vomit sentiment. It’s all an exaggeration of how we really feel, which is: $5 for a card - are you kidding me? I wonder if they would let us order off the kids’ menu. Why do we have to listen to these sappy love songs? This better be worth it.

But Valentine’s Day is only one day of exaggeration. I chose Feb. 29 as Exaggeration Day. I know it only comes once every four years, but when it does come it exaggerates a whole month. It changes the order of the calendar for two years. If you are born on that day you won’t become a teenager until you are 52 years old. It’s the best kind of exaggeration there is. It’s exaggeration without lying. “I’m 19 years old.” You look like you’re in mid 70s. “Nope, I’m only 19.”

The next Exaggeration Day will be Feb. 29, 2016. I know it seems like a lifetime until we get to celebrate, but this will give us time to plan the weeklong celebration. The party store should be able to have plates and napkins in stock by then.

Paul Ackley - Sunday, April 13

April 9, 2014

Elections reforms promote fairness and continuity

A recurring focus in the Ohio House of Representatives since I returned in 2011 has been reforming the state’s election systems. We have enacted a number of reforms to try and bring more continuity and fairness to the way ballots are cast here in Ohio.

Most recently, the House passed a series of bills directed specifically at issues like early voting and absentee ballots. The goal throughout the process was trying to find ways to maintain easy access for Ohioans to cast their ballots, while giving some much-needed relief to local boards of elections so they could meet the challenges of preparing for upcoming elections.

Senate Bill 205 established uniform rules for how absentee ballots are mailed out, ensuring that voters in all 88 counties are treated equally and are provided with the same resources. The bill allows boards of elections to contact absentee voters if the voter’s identification envelope is either not completely filled out or contains potential errors. Upon being contacted, those voters have seven days during which to fix the error and turn the envelope back in.

The second important reform to clear the Ohio House was Senate Bill 238, which revised the number of days that Ohioans have to vote absentee. Under the Ohio Constitution, residents of the state have to register at least 30 days prior to an election. Current law also permitted 35 days for early voting, which obviously overlapped with the allotted time for registration.

This presented some problems for local boards of elections, namely administering the process of people registering and voting on the same day. SB 238 simply changed the period of time during which people can vote early down to 29 days, so as to not overlap the time to register and the time to vote. Absentee voting will begin the day after the deadline for registering to vote.

Even following these changes, the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures released a study that indicated Ohio will continue to be among the top 10 states in the country—and best in the region—for the number of early voting days.

Both bills passed through the House and Senate and have since been signed into law by Governor Kasich.

Voting is a fundamental right that gives citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions by choosing the people who represent them in government. This is a right that separates the United States from so many other countries in the world.

I am proud to live in a state that recognizes the importance of giving people ample opportunity to vote, while understanding the vital need to have an elections system that promotes fairness and integrity.

Please provide feedback on this and other issues in the news by completing an online survey at tinyurl.com/buchyapril2014

April 8, 2014

Simplifying college affordability

Last week, Ohio students started receiving their financial aid packages, containing information about the grants, scholarships, and loans available to them. The rising cost of college tuition means that more students will have to navigate the sometimes confusing process of applying for student loans.

Many students end up graduating with costly student loans that prevent them from making other investments like buying homes, starting businesses, or going to graduate school. Some of these costs could be avoided if students and their families had clearer information about how the loan process works.

Two-thirds of student loan borrowers don’t know the difference between safer, affordable federal student loans and private student loans, which carry more risk and have higher interest rates. Private student loans often have variable interest rates which can rise at any time and they are ineligible for federal forgiveness, cancellation or income-based repayment programs.

Despite these risks, most student borrowers don’t exhaust their federal loan options before choosing to take out private loans.

With the average debt for 2012 Ohio college graduates totaling almost $30,000, students and their families deserve to have clear information about their options when it comes to paying for college. That’s why I cosponsored the Know Before You Owe Act.

This legislation would require colleges to inform borrowers of any available federal student aid before issuing certification for a private loan and would require lenders to clearly state the difference between students’ financial assistance and their cost of attendance. Lenders would also have to send loan statements to borrowers every three months and submit an annual report regarding student loans to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The information that this act provides for students and their families will help them to make informed decisions about paying for college.

While preventing students from being indebted with costly loans when more affordable options are available is critical, we must also help graduates with existing private student loan debt. Because private loans offer fewer payment options than federal loans, many graduates find themselves overwhelmed by their monthly payments. My Refinancing Education Funding to Invest for the Future Act (REFI) addresses this problem by authorizing the Treasury Department to incentivize banks to refinance private student loans. Lowering the interest rates on private student loans would make students’ payments more affordable at no cost to taxpayers.

Higher education creates economic opportunity for Ohio’s students but student loan debt can create an unnecessary burden that can follow them through adulthood.

By reducing their student loan debt through clear information and lowered interest rates, we can ensure that Ohio’s graduates have a fair shot at the future.

April 6, 2014

The Grumpy Side of 60... I’ll take two

NEWS FLASH!!! I just found out my granddaughter was accepted to American University in D.C. She got a $48,000 scholarship to boot! Congratulations, Monica!! Okay. Proud grampa done. Now… back to “I’ll take two.”

“If you could get an A in this class without showing up, would you still come to class?” Less than half the class raised their hands. “How many of you would NOT show up?” Most of them.

That’s the answer I get from every class. Nothing to learn, especially in a public speaking class. “You’re going to college to get a better job. Right?” All nod. “You already know what you need to know. Right?” Hesitation, partial nods. “Your boss looks at your resume… Hey, you got an A in Public Speaking. Maybe you’re management material. How about talking to the managers in the other departments about how you would…”

At that point I saw a few faces go pale. Students had already had two assignments requiring them to stand in front of the class and speak. A few looked like they were going to pass out. One later told me she almost threw up she was so scared. Some stuttered. Some forgot what they were going to say. It was a perfectly ordinary start for a perfectly ordinary class. And just like their predecessors, they got the message. I asked a third time. Nearly all students said they’d be back. It was one of the Edison Core Values… Respect for Learning.

Human Diversity. Ask most of my students and they’ll be happy to tell you there is none in rural, homogenous Darke County. No ethnic or big city diversity. Sure, we have both genders, go (or have gone) to different schools, live in town or in the country, not to mention individual diversity… Other than that? Pretty much the same.

Only one student got close to something they’d been dealing with for eight weeks… having to interact with someone a half century removed from them. Most of these kids could be my grandkids.

He noted the problem… “The instructor has a larger vocabulary than his students, and he sometimes uses words the students do not understand.” I grinned, remembering a comment I made in class. A student raised her hand. “What does that mean?” I used a different word. “Okay?” She shook her head. “I don’t know what that means, either.” I finally managed to come up with a word she understood.

They’re dealing with a major human diversity factor; they just haven’t figured it out yet.

I made a comment once to an educator that one of my jobs was to get my students to ‘think’ and ‘question’ before offering their thoughts or opinions. He grinned and said “good luck with that.” Our classes have had several exercises… I offer the scenario then ask what they would do. First time around? They were decisive… “I’d do this! Or I’d do that!” Until they realized they were missing information. In some cases even putting themselves or others at risk. Eight weeks later they aren’t so quick to make that judgment call. Critical Thinking.

I often tell my students I expect to learn from them as I expect them to learn from me. I think some get it, but not all. I also hope what they learn in their classes stick. My own experience as a kid was otherwise… like a dummy most of what I learned was in the school of hard knocks.

Two student comments stood out. One young lady remembers the respect for learning lesson and now equates it to all of her classes. The other comment came from a student I had to chastise, along with his buddy, for talking while I was talking.

Recently he said: “I did that all the time at school,” he said. “Nobody ever called me on it before.” He doesn’t do it now.

Teachers love to say “one student at a time.” I totally agree. In this case, however, I’ll take two.

Paul Ackley - Sunday, April 6, 2014

Readers Write

Supports traditional marriage


Our government is engaged in a campaign to change the definition of marriage to legitimize homosexuality and to make official policy recognize it as equivalent to traditional marriage.

Our government does not have the authority to change the definition of marriage, because it did not create marriage. In fact, not even did western civilization create marriage, nor even the oldest civilization. God created marriage before any civilization ever existed and specifically designed it to be between one man and one woman.

A government that attacks the moral foundation of a society loses its legitimacy because God ordained government. His purpose for government was to protect the good and punish evil doers. When a government rejects the moral foundation that is the basis of a strong society it opens itself to anything and everything as a basis for its policies. That is what we are experiencing now in America. A government that rejects God's moral authority ultimately degenerates into anarchy or tyranny because it has no objective plumb line to restrain it, and loses the trust, respect, and confidence of the people.

Scott Eley,

Readers Write

The American Worker

Dear Editor,

Lately I’ve noticed that some of us have bought into the media’s lip service that no one wants to work in the country anymore. Well, I’m going to let the good people of Darke County decide for themselves; here are some things I’ve seen lately. Last winter I witnessed thousands of people on the interstate at the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. in record snowstorms trying to get to and from work. Also, there have been some major employers nationwide holding job fairs where there are thousands showing up for just a few job openings as well as major universities and colleges with record enrollment. Wow! And the one that hits home with me is the fact that this winter in record snow and cold, myself and thousands of constructions workers that never stopped one day because of the elements, these are all people that work: period! I still believe in American and the American worker. I hope you do too!

Ryan Rader

April 4, 2014

Bill Impacting Ohio Land Banks passes Ohio House

COLUMBUS—State Representative Richard Adams (R-Troy) has announced that the Ohio House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 172, which modifies laws regarding land reutilization programs and property tax foreclosures.

Regarding its passage, Adams, released the following statement: “Senate Bill 172 modifies state law to increase the efficiency and decrease the cost of acquiring abandoned properties into a land bank through tax foreclosure, while also protecting the constitutional rights of owners and lien holders. This legislation will begin to address the harmful effects that blighted, vacant and abandoned properties have on our communities. After thoroughly vetting the bill in both the Senate and House chambers, I was pleased to see the favorable passage.”

April 3, 2014

Disputing the safety of fracking

(Submitted by Anne Vehre, WOFAC)

Will they be as successful as they were in the past? The Western Ohio Fracking Awareness Coalition (WOFAC) asks this question as it prepares to present the "Toxic Truth" on April 15, 7-9 p.m. at Memorial Hall on Fourth St. in Greenville. Featured will be three leading experts who have had first-hand experience with the dirty reality of fracking, its resulting waste-injection wells, and its unparalleled usage, contamination and disposal of water. Because of the serious nature of the program, the public is urged to attend, be informed, and take heed.

After they had worked hard in 2009 to successfully stop a proposed carbon dioxide sequestration project in Greenville, little did the Citizens Against CO2 Sequestration know they would be wearing another hat in 2014. Now going by the name of WOFAC, they are up against a much more aggressive adversary – an adversary that has not only caused earthquakes and lowered property values but has polluted and depleted water, which is the earth's most precious natural resource that sustains all life forms on this planet.

According to WOFAC leaders Jan Teaford, Susan Spille and Rita McCans, this project is far more serious than the CO2 project because it has already gained a strong foothold. With 262 fracking sites now operating in eastern Ohio, and 2,000 more in the planning stage, they say that it won't be too long before western Ohio will be involved as well. However, they say, it won't begin or end here.

Spreading from state to state and country to country, fracking and its off-shoots are posing even more problems in states such as California and Texas that are already suffering from lack of rain and severe drought. In these states, fracking is competing with farming for a diminishing water supply. Even though the signs are clear that water must be preserved and protected at all costs, billions of gallons of waste water from fracking are transported each day by truck, train or barge to be injected deep below the earth's surface where it will never again be naturally recycled to come back down to earth as rain.

As the fracking wells grow in number so will the need for Class II disposal wells, where the polluted water will be injected. While officials at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) have stated that it is unlikely that this area will get a waste-injection well, the word "UNLIKELY" does not mean the same as definitely. With the volatile and ever changing policies that are now raging within the State, the word "UNLIKELY" is not reassuring.

In the meantime, public-relations representatives from the oil and gas industry have effectively utilized their marketing expertise to promote what they want the public to hear and know. Unfortunately, promotions such as these present only part of the truth. In other words, they are not lying but are stating facts in a way that can be misleading or are omitting important negative points which are vitally important for the public to know.

An example is the statement that fracking has been done safely for 60 years without ONE confirmed incident of water contamination. Highly sophisticated technology proves otherwise. Ignoring the fact that spills, leaks and water contamination were not recorded 60 years ago, there is also the fact that while hydraulic and horizontal drilling methods were used back then, they were used separately and were not combined together. It wasn't until recently that they were combined to become the new technology called horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Jim Zehringer, Director of ODNR, verified this fact in a recent statement he made that was reported in the local news.

Nevertheless, the statement THERE HASN'T BEEN ONE confirmed incident of water contamination is true -- THERE HASN'T BEEN JUST ONE. THERE HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN HUNDREDS, which again demonstrates how words can be stated to mislead and manipulate the public.

Another promotion that is used purposely to mislead the public is the statement that natural gas is the clean and plentiful energy of the future. Would people have as readily accepted it, invested in it, and extolled its benefits IF they had known THAT NATURAL GAS IS METHANE?

Produced from decaying organic matter and garbage, it is dirty and it stinks. Unlike wet gas from which we get butane, ethane, and propane, it is a dry gas. When released into the environment, it contributes 87 to 100 percent more to air pollution than carbon dioxide. Because it is a hydrocarbon, it also releases carbon dioxide and soot when it burns – making it a triple whammy. In the oil fields of North Dakota, it is burned off as a waste.

Knowing what they are up against, WOFAC is combining its efforts with other citizens-action groups throughout the country who are also working to stop fracking and the environmental devastation it is causing. WOFAC says, "One group acting alone is weak. Many groups acting together are strong."

For more information, please go to WOFAC'S web site at www.wofac.org.

April 1, 2014

Jobs at the local Whirlpool Plant

Last month, I was so excited to be joined by Senator Keith Faber and Governor John Kasich in Greenville to announce the expansion of the Greenville Whirlpool Plant.

The Greenville Plant is truly a success story. The plant has been producing high quality stand mixers for as long as I have been alive, and longer. Recently, Whirlpool has even decided to begin producing hand mixers at the facility. These hand mixers were previously produced in a foreign country, but Whirlpool has seen the effectiveness of the plant, and has chosen to invest in the long term future of the plant, as well as Greenville.

The expansion of the plant will result in both a physical expansion, and an increase in the workforce. The $40 million capital investment will bring the facility from 260,000 square feet to 460,000, and will add 400 new jobs, bringing the total number of employees at the plant to 1,400. This will make Whirlpool the largest employer in Darke County.

These new jobs will help to bring more hardworking residents of Darke County and the rest of west central Ohio into the labor force and help provide a better standard of living for many western Ohio families.

While the addition of jobs is a victory in itself, it is important that we have well trained individuals who are ready to step into these positions. It is for this reason that Senator Faber and I are working hard to bring career training facilities to western Ohio.

These facilities are of great importance because they will give residents of western Ohio the opportunity to learn advanced manufacturing skills, making them attractive to employers like Whirlpool. Making these facilities accessible and affordable is a priority as I work to increase the number of working Ohioans and decrease the unemployment rate in western Ohio.

Large companies like Whirlpool find western Ohio attractive because of its workforce. By investing dollars in advanced manufacturing training programs, we will continue to attract businesses to our part of the state.

This Whirlpool expansion in Greenville is a prime example of the economic trajectory of the state of Ohio. By lowering the cost of doing business, we are bringing jobs to Ohio, and new businesses are putting more of our residents to work. Here in Ohio, we’re on the right track.

Please stay in touch and provide your input on the issues of the day by taking my legislative survey at tinyurl.com/buchyapril2014

March 31, 2014

Fix the VA backlog once and for all

The brave men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country shouldn’t face a bureaucratic nightmare to get the benefits they have so rightfully earned.

And when senior leaders in the Veterans Administration fail those who have put their lives on the line for our country, they deserve a pink slip – not a bonus.

So imagine my disbelief when I learned that – despite the persistent backlog and other widespread problems identified by the VA’s Inspector General – the department’s senior executives have received “glowing performance reviews and cash bonuses of up to $63,000,” according to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

This news comes after I’ve repeatedly pressed the administration on the VA backlog issue.

Last February and April - after hearing from a countless number of veterans in our local area who were experiencing claims issues at the regional VA office - I took action and sent letters to the VA Secretary seeking answers to the VA claims backlog. Then, last July, I was joined by Members of Congress from the Ohio delegation in a letter to the Secretary demanding a direct and transparent plan from the VA for addressing the VA backlog.

But I continue to hear about this backlog from veterans in our area almost every day. It’s simply unacceptable, and it deserves our utmost attention.

Even though the House has acted to tackle the backlog, reform won’t get far if it’s to be carried out by managers who have proven they aren’t up to the job.

That’s why I’m backing the VA Management Accountability Act (H.R. 4031), a bill introduced by House Republicans that gives the Secretary of the VA the ability to fire or demote senior executives who are not fulfilling their responsibilities to our service men and women. It’s supported by several veterans organizations, including Concerned Veterans for America and the American Legion.

The logic is simple: at the VA, when you aren’t getting the job done, you should go.

As I said in a recent speech on the House floor, the individuals at the VA who have let down our veterans should be held accountable, and we need to get people in there who can fix this backlog once and for all. The VA Management Accountability Act is an important step in keeping the pressure on the VA, and it’s an important step in our continued effort to ensure this administration fulfills its commitment to our nation’s veterans. I assure you, we’re not going to let up until this issue is resolved.

If you are a veteran living in the 8th District, please know that my office stands ready to assist you with any VA issues you may be facing. For more information, please visit www.johnboehner.house.gov or call 339-1524.

March 30, 2014

Ryan's World - Old and slow, but still had fun

In my line of work I occasionally get asked to do things most people never have the opportunity to do. I’ve judged food contests, interviewed celebrities (granted they’re B-list celebrities), and attended political rallies and sat with the national press. For those of you thinking, “Wow! You got to judge food contests,” all I can say is yes and they are my favorite. There is a lot more to a food judging contest than just eating a piece of pie or tasting a bowl of chili. I prefer to act like I know what I’m doing. I first make a visual inspection to see if it looks appetizing (and to make sure I’m not eating crickets or some other delicacy). Then I might sniff the food for aroma – if it smells spicy then I know I’m in for something good, unless it’s a pie contest.

This past week I received the biggest honor of my life – other than the honor of marrying my wife (biggest honor) and the honor of watching both of my daughters be born (second and third biggest honor, but I’m not saying which daughter was second or third). I was asked to participate in an exhibition basketball game with the Special Olympics basketball teams. The purpose was to show how a developmentally disabled person can work, play and contribute alongside everyone else in the community.

I had no idea what to expect, but I was hanging my hat on the promise I would only have to play one quarter, for which my out of shape derriere was grateful. These athletes had won state championships in the past and I was a little worried.

I looked at some of these athletes and I saw a desire in their eyes to compete and win. If they would have looked into my eyes they would have seen my desire to not pull a hamstring. I knew I was going to have a little problem even before the game started. (Here it comes! You should have expected this. I have an excuse for how poorly I played.) A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with arthritis and a bone spur in my right shoulder. I can barely raise my arm high enough to put on deodorant (I now put more on the left side and hope it covers the stink from the right side.) I’ve only had a few physical therapy sessions, but obviously not enough to play basketball. I felt a streak of pain shooting out of my shoulder as soon as I let go of my first shot. I went 0-4 on the night; unless it doesn’t count if you miss the backboard and rim.

After continuously running up and down the court I was completely drained and that was only one minute into the game. I decided I had better pace myself. For a two or three minute stretch they would take a shot and we’d get the rebound. We took a shot and they’d get the rebound. I would get about halfway down the court and our players would be passing me going the other way.

I realized I needed to step up my game a little when one of the athletes I was supposed to be guarding drained a three-pointer right in front of me. I made up my mind he wasn’t going to get that easy of a shot again. I was wrong. I definitely “got schooled” on the court. He made me look like I was moving in slow motion. He is young, quick and very athletic. I am old (if not the oldest person on the court I was in the top two or three) and slow (if not the slowest person on the court I was in the top two or three). I refuse to say I’m not athletic because in my aging mind I still have what it takes. The muscles and joints in my arms and legs disagree.

On a serious note – Just because someone looks, acts, or learns differently don’t think they don’t have value. A crisp $5 bill and a crumpled, stepped on, dirty $5 bill have the exact same value. The crisp $5 bill just hasn’t experienced everything the crumpled money has. “How dare you call them crumpled, stepped on and dirty,” you might say. I didn’t. In my mind a developmentally disabled person will always be the crisp $5 bill. If you’re lucky you will get two crisp bills that stick together.

Paul Ackley - Sunday, March 30, 2014

Readers Write - Grows Speak Out

Due to information provided through local media outlets on March 6th, obtained during a Darke County Fairboard meeting on March 5th, Grow Excavating has received overwhelming support from community members in regards to how our business name was brought forward in the news about the cattle barns demo project. We want to take this opportunity to share our thoughts and hope to keep our name in good standing. After 10 years in business, we have worked diligently to earn trust and respect from our customers ranging from the Darke County Commissioners to the Darke County Engineer to business owners to farmers to homeowners throughout the county which will vouch for our character and reputation.

We have been an active part of the Darke County Fair as a business vendor for the past 10 years. We have also completed the Fine Arts Building project, helped with tile repairs on the fairgrounds, completed a parking lot at the North end restrooms, volunteered our help/ equipment for the fair's Demo Derby for the last 6 years, volunteered our help/equipment for swine barn improvements last summer, have children in Darke County 4-H and have become a 4-H leader. After a motion was made and passed by the fairboard at the March 5th meeting to ban Grow Excavating from any future bidding at the fairgrounds, we feel this action is a shocking and unjustified decision from the majority of the fairboard. We will continue our personal involvement in the fair with our children being in 4-H and being a leader.

It was mentioned that Grow Excavating had "placed the fairboard behind the 8 ball" and "failed to fulfill a contract obligation". Grow Excavating had verbally accepted the project but had no signed contract. We contacted the fairboard secretary within 4 hours to let them know we would like to decline the project based on several unknown variables including most importantly that the fairboard couldn't pin point a starting date for the project. Due to the nature of being a self-employed contractor, we continually bid projects not knowing which ones we might be awarded, if any sometimes. As of March 27th, the fairboard is still waiting on clearance from the Fire Marshall to begin demo and now have a joint evidence exam session scheduled April 14th, over 6 weeks later than originally thought.

Thanks to all surrounding community members for your continued support! Grow Excavating looks forward to many more years of helping their customers and providing a trustworthy, high level of service including being involved in community projects!

Thank you,
Todd and Amanda Grow

March 28, 2014

Fracking involves more than drilling and disposal

(Submitted by Rita McCans and Susan Spille Western Ohio Fracking Awareness Coalition)

It isn't often that area residents have the opportunity to hear leading experts speak on the pollution caused by fracking and the fossil fuel industry. Three experts in the fields of drilling, health and environment are coming to Greenville from Michigan and New York and one of Ohio’s gas producing counties to tell share stories and risks of fracking. The Western Ohio Fracking Awareness Coalition (WOFAC) will host an event April 15, 7-9 p.m., at Memorial Hall in Greenville. This program, titled the "Toxic Truth," is about the consequences of the fracking and fossil fuel industry waste. This topic impacts all Ohioans, as injection wells, pipelines, fracking pads, and transportation of toxic chemicals are increasing in Ohio at alarming rates. According to articles found on the ANR and Texas Eastern (oil and gas associated) websites, as well as a recent public notices, Darke County will soon be receiving gas from the shale gas area of Ohio and beyond. Everyone is encouraged to attend and ask questions. Because of the controversy surrounding fracking waste and the seriousness of the program, all community, county and state leaders, who are concerned about their constituents, are urged to attend.

When leaders from WOFAC recently travelled to Harrison and Carroll counties in Eastern Ohio next to the Pennsylvania border, they confirmed that fracking involves far more than drilling and waste disposal wells. It also involves towering rigs on acres of stone, gravel and concrete which are placed in close proximity to each other and sometimes very close to neighboring homes and schools. Beautiful expanses of rolling hills filled with lush forests, sparkling ponds and plentiful wildlife are fast becoming littered with towering metal rigs that have changed the shape and the scope of the landscape and the environment forever.

Shale gas involves more than just a fracking pad, it also involves the destruction of millions of gallons of fresh water that will never return to the ecosystem, massive amounts of truck traffic, earth shaking dehydration systems huge compression facilities, diesel powered generators, massive pipelines, impoundment ponds, solid toxic waste, hazardous chemicals, hundreds of out of state workers and more. These operations have the potential to pollute the environment, impact water levels and quality, cause earthquakes, impact public health, decrease property values, contaminate farmland and devastate the quiet charm of a farm, a small town, or even a subdivision within a city.

Because of numerous earthquakes in Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio near fracking wells and fracking injection wells, there are studies being conducted to determine if these earthquakes are caused by injection wells and/or fracking operations. While there are some individuals and communities who have benefited from selling their mineral rights to oil and gas companies, there are far more people affected by the potential for contaminated water, soil and air, decreased property values, increase truck traffic, the noise of drilling, the digging of a network of hundreds of miles of pipelines across the open fields, the blight of the huge metal rigs and “frackcidents”. Rarely does a day go by without a pipeline accident or spill as well as a multitude of other fracking accidents. As the residents of many areas that are currently being fracked can attest, problems associated with fracking and fracking waste can far outweigh the benefits. Local governments are discovering that the money promised by oil and gas drillers is not enough to compensate for the damage to roadways and bridges, and, in some cases as recent news articles point out, the money promised is greatly reduced or ends abruptly.

More importantly, because there are so many facets involved with fracking, Western Ohio, including Darke County and the counties surrounding it, are certainly not immune to what can occur. Having said that it is “highly unlikely” that fracking and fracking injection waste will not come here is not a very comforting guarantee. Without laws to protect or prohibit this activity locally, landfills can accept radioactive drill cuttings, old wells can be re-drilled and be vertically fracked for “light” shallow gas or, as the ODNR website points out, old gas and oil wells could be turned into Class II waste injection wells. The Glen Karn and Hollansburg areas are already experiencing the impact of the shale gas industry, as pipelines and new bidirectional equipment are being installed to make it part of a vast network of pipelines reaching from Eastern Ohio through Darke County and on to access points south and west.

For more information about fracking and its problems go to www. wofac.org

March 27, 2014

Death penalty reform needed

Joy Stewart was a 22-year-old newlywed and was eight months pregnant with her first child in 1989 when she was brutally raped and stabbed, killing her and her unborn child. Because this killer acted in a way that was so heinous, he deserved to be punished with the most serious sentence our legal system allows. In the state of Ohio, this punishment is death.

On Jan. 16, Joy Stewart’s killer was put to death. At his execution, the killer was administered a new two-drug mixture that had not previously been used in an execution. Eyewitnesses to the execution claim that the murderer suffered excessively, and could be seen gasping for air. However, information has surfaced that indicates that the killer may have been requested to “put on a show” by his lawyers. While his lawyers deny this, the facts about what occurred at his execution are still in dispute.

Those against the death penalty in Ohio claim that this occurrence is further proof that the death penalty is cruel and unusual, and should therefore be banned. They believe that no person should be subjected to the pain that Joy Stewart’s murderer experienced during his execution, no matter how serious their crime. I respectfully disagree.

I have always been firmly in favor of the death penalty here in Ohio, and this occurrence does nothing to alter these views. However, in order to make the death penalty process more efficient, I believe there are areas within our legal system that need to be reformed.

After a trial, a convicted murderer has the right to appeal his or her conviction. However, this appeals process allows murderers to waste tax payer dollars through appeal after appeal. Yet only a handful of convictions have been completely overturned since 1973. On average, these convictions were overturned after just three hearings.

The average time an inmate spends on death row is more than 16 years. We need to reduce this amount of time by changing the appeals process in ways that will reduce the amount of time a murderer waits to be executed. This will reduce the costs associated with the appeals process, and cut down on the amount of tax dollars wasted on the most heinous of criminals.

Florida recently enacted legislation known as the Timely Justice Act, which shortens the amount of time between the conviction and the execution of a murderer. Ohio should consider the possibility of passing similar legislation that would cap the number of appeals hearings, or reduce the time between hearings, and reduce the amount of time a murderer is kept on death row.

Please stay in touch and provide your input on the issues of the day by taking my legislative survey at tinyurl.com/buchymarch2014

March 26, 2014

Spring, and a drug problem plan, coming

March is here and so far it looks like it is coming “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Let us hope that the cold, miserable winter we have had is finally closing out. It will be nice to get back to “normal” weather and normal electric and gas bills again! This winter has been tough on everyone’s pocketbooks, and really hurt some budgets, but we will survive. Darke County is one of the prettiest places to be in the springtime so enjoy the surroundings and all the good things we have to offer.

One of the great things about March, besides the beginning of spring, is it brings new hope and joy to a lot of people. March has started out like gangbusters for the county, and it looks like this is just the beginning of a great year!! Of course, we are talking about the huge Whirlpool announcement. Whirlpool’s commitment to Darke County, along with the partnership we have formed with them, should bring a smile to everyone’s face. The announcement of a $40 million dollar investment and the hiring of 400 new employees over the next several years made state and national news and included the presence of Governor John Kasich. All involved at the state level and the executives from Whirlpool gave credit to the local people. Because of the work ethic and quality the plant provides, everyone agreed after looking at national and international sites, that Greenville was the only place to expand. This should make everyone in the county proud! I know when we talked to everyone, we all were proud to hear our people were the difference. Whirlpool’s commitment to us, and us to them, is a model of how a community and corporations can come together and over time become like family.

All of our long-term companies like BASF, Midmark, PolyOne (the former Spartech), Ramco Motors and others too numerous to mention, are part of the Darke County Family. We will do everything possible to make them feel welcome here. Many thanks go to the Economic Development Office, the Partnering for Progress Initiative, and the C.I.C. for making this all work. Whirlpool is just one of the great announcements we have had this month. The $500,000 grant for Memorial Hall was good news for everyone. Thanks to Matt Jordan and the committee for their hard work on procuring this grant. This money will help Memorial Hall stay viable for the foreseeable future. Thanks again to all involved. The good news just keeps on coming as the Darke County Career Tech Center has received a grant of $500,000 to expand also. This money will help our students and workers to learn and grow as we expand our workforce efforts. Thanks to Senator Bill Beagle and Sandra Brasington from the Governor’s Office for their help on this effort. The Darke County Animal Shelter also received a $2,000 dollar grant from the Ohio Pet Fund to spay and neuter dogs. This will help offset some of the cost of this program. More good news is coming soon, as we wrap up some other projects in the E.D. office. Things are looking up here!! So please be patient, and as soon as we can, we will inform you of what’s happening.

In other happenings, we in the Commissioner’s Office are continuing along the path we have set by doing maintenance on buildings, and catching up on things that have been allowed to falter in the past. Building maintenance is going along well, thanks to our dedicated group of maintenance people led by Marty Munchel. Sometimes, there are not enough hours in the day for these guys, but Marty, Kenny Martin, Rick Robinson and Mark Schlechty, along with Bill Marker, our Sewer Maintenance Supervisor, get the job done without complaint. Thanks Marty and guys for a great job that often goes unnoticed and underappreciated! We are still doing scanning of important material, and this will continue for a while. These materials need to be done and it is required, so our people are working to bring us into compliance. We are also working with the Chamber of Commerce on a plan to curb drug addiction in Darke County. In a conversation with the Sheriff and others, we are all working on a plan, and another meeting is scheduled for April 4. When we have a completed plan, we will let everyone know so all of Darke County can help us with this problem. We may not be able to cure the problem, but we can get a handle on it, trim it down, and keep it from growing. Speaking of the Sheriff, by the time this is printed we should have at least two of our new cars, and maybe all three! This is a much needed addition to the department, and will help our deputies do their job more efficiently. The Sheriff also is reworking his policy manual which needed an update, and will help clarify duties and expectations for the department.

Thanks to Judge Hein, Judge Monnin, and Kelly Ormsby, our Prosecutor, for the much needed updating of their respective offices, and the courthouse remodeling effort. A few years ago, the Auditor, Carol Ginn, Clerk of Courts Cindy Pike, and Treasurer Scott Zumbrink used money they had to update their offices. The Recorder, Linda Stachler, is planning to upgrade her office as well. Jim Surber, the County Engineer, gave up storage space and put up with a lot of the mess when the basement remodeling took place. As can be seen, all of our elected officials in the courthouse have done more than their part to make things better, and we in the Commissioner’s office realize how important their help is. Thanks to all of you, and I am sure I missed someone, but thanks for helping to make our little corner of the world a better place.

March has been a great month so far, and seems to be a precursor of good things to come. Why don’t you join us for one of our bi-weekly meetings? We meet every Monday and Wednesday publicly at 1:30 p.m. in the Commissioner’s office, just south of the Courthouse on Broadway in Downtown Greenville. Let us know what you think, and what you want to see happen. Hope to see you there!!

Submitted by the Darke County Commissioners

March 23, 2014

The Grumpy Side of 60 - Even grumpy old people need kudos

Two weeks ago I was starting to get a complex. Feeling stupid at the science fair, finding out my brain power was going down the tubes, forgetting an appointment, and the ultimate insult… having an 8-year-old stick her tongue out at me.

Not to mention never having any messages from my students in my message box. It was a tough two weeks.

I’m happy to report the last two weeks have been better. Well, except for one of my grumpy buddies at Kiwanis. No sooner had I sat down and started eating lunch when he said “Hey professor, I’m mad at you!”


“I’m mad at you!”


“I went to a furniture store to look for a new chair and this sales woman comes up to me and starts giving me the pitch.”

“Yeah? So?”

“So she was good! Wouldn’t leave me alone; had an argument for everything, no matter what I said!”

“Okay. So what does that have to do with me?”

“She was one of your students! That’s what. I asked her where she learned to do that… she said in Bob Robinson’s class. Communications!”

He told me her name. Yeah, I remembered her. She was one of my “A” students. I grinned.

So that was good… but then there was the little girl who didn’t want her picture taken. Her brother was delighted, even stopped working on his chocolate milk, but she wanted nothing to do with the camera. Mom had to coax her. “Remember? He took your picture at the parade? You were happy about it then.” She’d been hiding her face behind her hand (sound familiar?) and I was getting ready to move on when she finally gave in.

Picture turned out great, even if mommy did have to talk her into it.

Seems like my “complex” was spilling over into this week. I’m typically a “glass half full” guy; on Monday my editor complained I was having one of my “glass half empty” days. Not that he cared; just thought it worth a comment. He wasn’t even sarcastic (that was a shocker).

On Tuesday I told him to give me a topic for my column. He said… well, I won’t tell you what he said. It really was a pretty good two weeks but I have this thing about patting myself on the back.

“Do it. Nobody else will.” Okay.

Every semester I meet dozens of new students, most of them high school kids. I try to teach them to really learn to communicate. Ethics, teamwork, sending, receiving, feedback, respect for learning, and diversity… especially critical thinking. Like they’re bringing back into schools now… deep not wide. Every once in a while I run across a former student; he or she will say hi, maybe even stop and talk for a minute. Monday was different.

A student from last year waved at me to stop while I was on my way to class. She gave me a hug and said “Thank you! I wanted you to know I really miss your class. I changed my major thanks to you… I’m going to major in communications or marketing now. I really loved that class; I wish I had more like it.”

Then she told me about the job she just got.

“I had a phone interview,” she said. “When we were finished the interviewer said he had never interviewed anyone as young as me who was as self-confident and comfortable as I was.” She paused. “Thank you,” she repeated. “I got that job because of what we learned in your class.”

I remembered her. She was one of the class leaders, so I wasn’t surprised. She was sharp. It still made my day and taught me something I guess I need to remember…

Even grumpy old people need kudos sometimes.

Paul Ackley - Sunday, March 23, 2014

Readers Write - I Want My Country Back

I Want My Country Back

More than 200 years ago we got rid of a king – even fought a war for our freedom. Freedom we’ve had for years. Now the poor soul is bad sick – dying even!

We had been a democratic republic – all was good. However, we’ve had a “would be king” for much too long. He’s trying his darndest to make this a Socialist republic. I didn’t want Obama Care – we didn’t even have a chance to vote on it. It wouldn’t have been so awful had this been a soft economy, but it’s far from it. Seems that “Hard-hearted Hannibal” just loves to throw water in the face of a drowning man.

Many of national politicians have absolutely no backbone (or as in Harry Reid’s case, he thinks someone died and made him God all of a sudden!)

The people residing at Pennsylvania Ave (when not on extravagant vacations) seem to think that they own the USA. To date they’ve messed with every early official document (and symbol) for which this country stands.

Shall we simply give the family a one-way ticket to the Middle East where they can mess with that government to their content, cause – I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!

JoAnne Bowie,

Readers Write - Common Core?

Common Core?

You as a parent and teacher!

Really want to know what Common Core is:

Watch Dave Barton Common Core the Family Leader on You Tube.

Bill Frankman,

March 21, 2014

We’re Holding the President Accountable

As the weeks go by, I’m receiving more and more calls and emails from people in our local area sharing horror stories about their experiences with the president’s health care law.

Whether it’s families seeing their policies cancelled, seniors losing access to their doctors and other benefits because of ObamaCare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage, or higher premiums for small business workers, people can’t catch a break.

People like Tracy from Hamilton, a wife and mom of four who is just trying to do the right thing for her family, but - thanks to ObamaCare - the cost of her family’s insurance has doubled. Knowing her family’s plan would spike, Tracy started researching her options in December so she would have her family covered. As the process unfolded, Tracy was bounced around between the ObamaCare insurance exchange and Medicaid. Now, months later, she has been told to resend all of her financial documentation and start over. In the meantime, her family with go without insurance.

Then there’s Nancy from Hamilton, an 81-year-old whose access to care has been hurt because of ObamaCare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage. Nancy isn’t alone: more than 50,000 seniors in the 8th District rely on Medicare Advantage for their health care needs, and the cuts to Medicare Advantage under the president’s health care law leave them vulnerable to losing their doctors and benefits.

These are the same concerns I heard a few weeks ago when talking to friends and neighbors at our annual 8th District Farm Forum in Piqua. A small business owner told me, ‘We recently had to make the decision to stop providing health care to our employees due to ObamaCare.’

Even the President knows the law is broken - why else would he be bending the law and re-writing portions to accommodate his political agenda?

But the president can't just ignore parts of his laws that he doesn't like. While he started the year by bragging that he's ‘got a pen and a phone’ and that he plans to double down on unilateral action, I remind him that he also has a Constitution, and he doesn’t get to decide which laws he’s going to enforce any more than Americans get to decide which laws they’re going to follow.

That's not what the framers of our Constitution envisioned, and that's not what the American people expect. That's why we're working to hold the President accountable, while at the same time urging him to work with us to scrap his fundamentally-flawed law and start over with better solutions to make health care more affordable.

In the House, we recently passed a series of bills aimed at addressing the American people’s growing concern about White House overreaching..

“That’s not all. We also went after the president’s health care law, voting to delay the law’s individual mandate tax and extend the same basic fairness to all Americans that the president has granted to big business.

And we’re far from finished. I know Ohioans are not going to let the president quietly get away with his unilateral actions, which is why I’d like to hear from you. To share your stories with me, please visit johnboehner.house.gov or call my district office at (937)-339-1524.”

March 19, 2014

House addresses concerns over PARCC and Common Core

No matter how much legislators might disagree on the many important issues impacting our state, when it comes to education I know that every member of the Ohio House wants what is best for our young people and wants our schools to be as productive as possible.

One of the most important issues facing education today—as many Ohioans are well aware—is the Common Core State Standards. One piece of legislation pending in committee is House Bill 413, which addresses some concerns that have been raised about some of the testing associated with the Common Core.

HB 413 would prohibit schools from administering what is called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), an online multi-state assessment, during the upcoming school year including assessments not connected with PARCC. Some have stated concerns about whether certain Ohio schools have the technology necessary to implement the online testing system. This has also raised the fear of certain students not being treated equally, depending on whether they have had access to the technology. While these concerns are understandable, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has decided to let some districts use a paper version of the test.

Even though ODE has offered this alternative to online testing, the Department still admits PARCC testing will take more time than Ohio’s previous testing model. This means more testing and less time for students to learn school material. I believe we should spend less time preparing them for high-stakes testing and more time giving them instructor-led education.

The legislation does not propose anything radical, but rather slows down and allows us to take another look at just how realistic it is to expect Ohio’s school districts to administer these kinds of tests.

The 84th House District is blessed to have great schools with great teachers and principals. Eighty percent of the schools in the district received A’s when the latest state report card was released. This shows the kind of attention and emphasis that is placed on educating our young people so that they can be successful later in life.

There is always room for improvement, and we must constantly strive to find better solutions. But I believe flexibility at the local level is a tremendous ingredient toward ensuring our youth become as successful as they can be.

I always enjoy hearing the thoughts and ideas of the people of the district, and I encourage you to share your opinions with my office by completing a survey at www.tinyurl.com/buchymarch2014

March 16, 2014

Ryan's World - My wife and I are enablers

My oldest daughter is no longer allowed to watch the news. Every morning she gets up and turns the television on to the news so she can have background noise and a clock to remind her of when she needs to leave. This has caused her to learn things she shouldn't know. Every newscast is filled with stories about drugs, robberies, deaths and murder, but that's not what I'm upset about. It's important for her to know there is evil and sadness in the world so she can learn from the mistakes of others and realize not everything is rainbows and lollipops.

It's the kickers, the little stories that are fun and lighthearted that producers use to fill space at the end of a newscast that caught her attention. (Woohoo! I finally got to show off something I learned from my radio and television communications degree.) One of those "kickers" could change her life (and ours) forever and not necessarily for the better.

After hearing this story she approached her mom and I and with all sincerity said, "I want to go to Clown College." That's right! The news reported there is and will be a shortage of clowns. We tell our kids as they are growing up they can be anything they want to be, but it is usually with the hope they will have aspirations to be something other than a clown. I was hoping I would eventually hear her say "I want to go to a good college and get a degree that will propel me into a career where I can take care of my parents when they get old and feeble."

I did a little research and turns out if you go to a Clown College that offers a degree program you can actually get student aid. I'm not sure what the degree would be – maybe Clownology. She could minor in cosmetology (hair and makeup); that might be useful. Their athletic requirement would be unicycle riding and juggling. I'm sure it would be a Bachelor of Arts degree, but in my estimation the degree would definitely be BS (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science).

I can't say I'm surprised by her desire to go to clown college. After all, this is the same girl that wanted a unicycle for two years. It is sitting in her bedroom waiting for the weather to get warmer. I've also tried to teach her how to juggle, with no success. I'm sure both are prerequisites for getting into Clown College. My wife and I are enablers and we didn't know it.

There were signs we completely missed leading up to her decision. A few weeks ago she was taking a shower and was taking an extremely long time. We only have one bathroom and my wife had enough. She busted through the door to yell and hurry her along. She caught her standing in the bathtub, looking in the mirror with an eyeliner pen in hand. She looked like a mix between Gene Simmons of Kiss and a deranged clown.

My wife instantly started yelling. No, not at my daughter. "Honey, grab a camera and come here quick," she said. If our kids do anything halfway embarrassing we want to make sure we capture it. We missed out on capturing her sticking her tongue on a piece of metal outside when the temperature was quite frigid. When she started yelling for help I went for my camera. She actually pulled the skin off of her tongue to prevent me from taking a picture. She wanted to know if the scene in a Christmas Story was true. She learned it was.

She is only a freshman in high school so we still have a couple of years to talk her out of Clown College. She has already informed us her back up plan is to be an actress. I've seen her algebra grade, maybe we should encourage her to be a clown.

Paul Ackley - Sunday, March 16, 2014

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