July 25, 2014

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Revitalizing our communities by redeveloping Ohio brownfields
Written by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown   
Saturday, July 27, 2013 12:00 AM

BY US SENTOR

SHERROD BROWN

 

Last year, I met with members of the Shefton family of Cleveland. They lived near a former lead smelter site, but had to move when one of their sons was diagnosed with high-lead levels in his blood. No Ohio family or business should be forced to relocate because of hazardous materials or contaminated properties in its neighborhood. But unfortunately, this happens all too often in our state.

In Ohio, parcels of land known as brownfields are left behind after a commercial building or factory has been demolished or abandoned. These brownfields can be found in big cities and small towns in all parts of the state. In fact, by some estimates, Ohio has thousands of potential brownfield sites.

These brownfields don’t belong in neighborhoods where children walk to school, and they don’t belong in communities looking to attract new businesses.

We need to redevelop these sites to make way for new investments. That’s why I’m co-sponsoring legislation to clean-up, re-invest in and re-develop these properties. The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act would overhaul the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) existing Brownfields Program.

We know that by providing targeted funding and allowing increased flexibility, we increase the likelihood that more sites are cleaned up. That’s why the BUILD Act would increase clean-up grants and more than double the funding ceiling for remediation grants. The legislation would also allow the EPA to award multi-purpose grants, which means federal resources could be used for multiple elements of a project, including site inventory and planning and remediation for one or more brownfields.

In order to increase flexibility further, the bill also lets more nonprofits qualify for site-assessment grants. Right now, nonprofits can only apply for site clean-up grants, but we know that local organizations and community development groups have the capacity to do so much more, especially in smaller communities.

Finally, the BUILD Act maintains current funding levels through Fiscal Year 2016. Simply put, this means it would not be subject to partisan fights during the next presidential election.

The BUILD Act is a perfect example of a public-private partnership. By cleaning up previously used sites for redevelopment opportunities, we can attract private capital back to our cities. If we can incentivize developers and businesses to locate in our towns, we can increase local tax revenue and protect our green spaces from continued development.

The BUILD Act and the Brownfields program play an integral role in revitalizing vacant or abandoned properties to meet environmental and public health challenges while spurring economic development in Ohio.

We must do everything we can to ensure the brownfields around our state are cleaned up and are no longer eyesores in their communities.

 
Ensuring Ohio workers have the skills needed to fill open jobs
Written by Sherrod Brown   
Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:02 AM

BY US SENATOR

SHERROD BROWN

 

Last week, I heard from Daniel Brewer, a Navy veteran from Cincinnati who could not find a good paying job after returning from Afghanistan. Though Daniel had substantial training in the Navy, moving home to Ohio, he had trouble translating his skills into the civilian workforce.

Daniel’s experience is all too common. Time and time again I’ve heard similar stories throughout Ohio: biotech firms, high-tech manufacturers, and small businesses are hiring for open positions, but can’t find the workers with the right skills to fill these job openings. With too many Ohioans still unable to find work, we should be doing all that we can to ensure that our workers are qualified to fill Ohio jobs.

Since 2007, I’ve convened more than 215 roundtables across Ohio’s 88 counties, listening to community and business leaders, workers, and entrepreneurs on ways to strengthen our economy. A theme that developed early on was that despite high unemployment, employers are having a hard time finding workers with the skills necessary to fill the available jobs. As a result, job openings in high-growth industries, like healthcare, clean energy, and biosciences, and even the manufacturing sector, are going unfilled.

According to Forbes, Ohio ranks 10th per capita in the nation among states expecting the biggest looming skilled labor shortage – due, in part, to an aging population and limited workforce training resources.

The skills gap exists – especially for careers in high-tech fields. This gap denies workers new opportunities they deserve and undermines our nation’s economic competitiveness. It also limits our state’s ability to attract new jobs and businesses.

In response to the stories I heard during my early roundtables throughout Ohio about the need to close the skills gap, I first introduced the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) in 2008. Last week, I reintroduced it with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

The SECTORS Act creates partnerships between educators, industry, and workforce training boards to ensure that workers have the right skills to get hired in high-tech, emerging industries with good-paying jobs. If we’re going to attract new employers, we need to ensure that local workforce development efforts support the needs of local industries. That’s what this bill does.

It means community colleges, whether it’s Cincinnati State, Tri-C, Zane State, and Sinclair State or Rhodes State, and workforce investment boards, industry, and labor, working together to serve local needs.

We know economic development and workforce skills training go hand-in-hand. We’ve seen this in Youngstown with NAMII. When the skilled workers are there, more investments follow. It’s not only good for businesses; this legislation is also important for Ohio families.

America has a unique opportunity to address the skills gap that prevents hardworking Americans—like Daniel Brewer—from finding good jobs and prohibits eager-to-grow companies from hiring the skilled workers needed to expand. We close the skills gap by going directly to the source of Ohio’s economic might: our skilled workers and innovative businesses.

 
The road to bedlam
Written by Kathleen Parker   
Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:02 AM

WASHINGTON — It is easy to understand how everyone in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case feels.

If I were Martin’s mother, I’d want his killer’s heart on a platter. If I were Zimmerman’s mother, I’d be grateful my son escaped greater injury, however he managed.

If I were African-American, I would fear for my sons and be furious at a system that condones vigilantism, and then acts as though naming a teen’s death a “tragedy” ends the discussion.

The list could go on. The point is that this is one of those rare instances in which everyone is right within his/her own experience. Blacks are right to perceive that Martin was followed because he was black, but it is wrong to presume that recognizing a racial characteristic is necessarily racist. It has been established that several burglaries in Zimmerman’s neighborhood involved primarily young black males.

Picture Zimmerman’s neighbor and defense witness Olivia Bertalan hiding in her locked bedroom with her infant and a pair of rusty scissors, while two young males, later identified as African-American, burglarized her home. They ran when police arrived.

This is not to justify what subsequently transpired between Zimmerman and Martin but to cast a dispassionate eye on reality. And no, just because a few black youths caused trouble doesn’t mean all black youths should be viewed suspiciously. This is so obvious a truth that it shouldn’t need saying and yet, if we are honest, we know that human nature includes the accumulation of evolved biases based on experience and survival. In the courtroom, it’s called profiling. In the real world, it’s called common sense.

One thing we can all agree upon without much strain is that this incident — this senseless, heartbreaking death — never should have happened. Zimmerman, who began acting as a watchman in 2004 and had made more than 40 calls to authorities over the years, never should have left his car once he had notified police, who told him to stay put.

We also can surmise that Zimmerman would not have followed Martin if Zimmerman weren’t carrying a gun. If Martin were perceived as dangerous, wouldn’t an unarmed individual keep his distance until police arrived?

Thus, we conclude that Zimmerman’s actions led to the confrontation that ultimately resulted in a fight that ended with the fatal shooting.

It never should have happened. And it didn’t have to.

The jury obviously felt that Zimmerman acted in self-defense or, at least, that the state failed to prove otherwise. It must have been a terrible conclusion to reach because, no matter what the legal definitions that guided them, it seems impossible that someone’s young son, guilty of nothing, should die while his killer walks. Adages become such for a reason: The law is an ass.

By the definitions, instructions and evidence — in other words, by the book — the jurors ruled as they could and justice feels ill-served.

So, yes, we understand how everyone feels. But feelings are like weather — they come and go and shift with time. Part of maturity — and fundamental to civilization — is learning to process feelings through thought, reflection and, in this case, debate.

Instead, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, feelings have been magnified and exploited by enablers — from certain members of the media, who seem more like rapacious rabble-rousers than journalists, to professional activists who, in fact, thrive on disorder. This is a good time to recognize that activists with television shows are not, in fact, journalists. When Al Sharpton went to Florida to organize demands that Zimmerman be charged, he was acting as the civil rights activist he is, not as a broadcast journalist he plays on television. Now, as he proceeds to organize protests in 100 cities, he has a global bullhorn with which to sound his fury.

With such instigation, grass-roots quickly erupt into wildfires. News organizations can’t ignore news, obviously, but which came first: The death threats? Or the TV correspondent speculating whether Zimmerman would need to fear for his life?

As soon as passions cool, assuming we let them, the discussion that needs to take place surrounds a question: What was George Zimmerman doing walking around his neighborhood armed and loaded? In what world is this normal behavior?

The answer: Not a world most of us want to live in. Let’s start there.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 
Letter to the Editor
Written by Information Submitted   
Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:01 AM

DEAR EDITOR:

Wind turbines are incompatible with farming

My home is on 65 acres 3/4 mile from 100 wind turbines. Your county’s residents have asked me what their future holds. I implore Van Wert County to avoid making the same mistake that McLean County did in destroying thousands of acres of what was once the most productive soil in the world by permitting wind turbines without protecting residents and agricultural businesses with safe setbacks. Farming and living in a peaceful rural community is gone once turbines come.

Choosing turbines will cause you to give up access to environmentally friendly methods of protecting waterways from nitrogen runoff by planting cover crops aerially. Aerial applicators reserve the right not to spray within one mile of a turbine. Our past state association president said, “Aerial application can be done in maybe 10% of the fields inside wind farms, but it isn’t worth somebody’s life to get in there and try to do that.” Many fields will lose the option to protect their crops aerially. If a plane hits a tower, blade, or unmarked meteorological tower, the leaseholder can be sued by the developer for damages. A farmer here testified that he will never be able to spray his field by air again: he can’t get insurance. When offered more turbines, he declined, stating he wouldn’t have gotten the first ones had he known. Farmers have a right to do what they want on their own property, but they do not have a right to put up a wind turbine which may deprive their neighbor of their livelihood, income they get from farming. Can the county be sued for approving this as an unfair business practice? Will your neighbor sue you to recover damages they’ll suffer from decreased yields and increased costs because of your turbine?

Soil compaction and crushed field tiles from heavy cranes is permanent and occurs repeatedly during 60 year leases. Tile removal and raised access roads in fields create drainage nightmares. Farmers seldom get the same yields after destroying their fields with wind turbines. Wind turbines are completely incompatible with farming. You choose - farm or place an industrial power plant in the middle of a once a productive field.

You cannot do both. It’s inexcusable for Van Wert County to ignore evidence from victims of other wind farms. Deny permits which will endanger the health, safety and livelihood of your citizens.

Learn more - Windaction, www.fairwindenergy.org.

Kim Schertz

Hudson, Ill

 
Letter to the Editor
Written by Information Submitted   
Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:00 AM

DEAR EDITOR,

Read your article in the Saturday newspaper about “The Ice Man,” This article really hit home with me because I was an Ice Man in the late 1930s.

I worked for the Steinle Brewery Co. one whole summer and fall. I worked with Leonard and Clarence Lause at the time.

I don’t know who wrote this article but there is a lot more to tell about being an ice man. It was hot, hard and sometimes long work to do. I could probably write this whole page about what we did that summer.

I do have an ice pick like the one in the picture, the top one. These picks and tongs were a big part of this job.

I really liked the article because I had something to do with it a long time ago.

I only wish you really did know what an “ice man” really did in a day’s work.

Yours,

Arthur J. Grothouse

 
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