Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ambush at the Lighthouse (by R. Charles Sneed)

I recently attended the meeting on Thursday January 14th, sponsored by the “CO2 Group”, to discuss the economic troubles of our community. Because of the success this group had at stopping the CO2 sequestration in our county, I believed this group had once again done their homework and had a plan of action on how to help this troubled economy as it pertains to our county. Instead, we were ambushed with an elaborate sales pitch as to why “Now is the Time”, ( a special election on Tuesday February 2nd for those who did not know) for a new school for Greenville. This was most evident by the last speaker, Jim Surber the county engineer. The only thing he talked about was why he supported the building of the new school. There was no discussion on the infrastructure needed, if any, to expand existing business or bring new business to the community.

The citizens sat through their sales pitch and waited to ask questions of the leaders they chose to explain why “Now is the time”. When the citizens started asking their questions to gather the facts, figures and concerns, they too were ambushed by one of the ladies with a microphone, or as she put it “a monkey with a razor blade”, voicing here personal opinion on the question. Despite the interruptions, I believe these leaders answered the questions with openness and honesty. It is evident these leaders believe building a new school for Greenville is the key factor to compete within the market for economic development and help bring new business to town. However, there were some statements made by these leaders that do not support their view on the school. Such as, the new county economic developer, Mark Saluk, stated 86% of economic growth typically comes from within the community and business retention. Representative Jim Zehringer reported he recently had 3 separate business owners from surrounding communities, come to his office and express a desire to move a few miles west to Indiana. He attributed their reasons to high state taxes, out dated state regulations and the monopoly the state of Ohio has on workers compensation (another tax), no mention of aging school buildings as a reason. Being a business owner, we too have considered a move because of a major increase in Ohio unemployment tax rate and Ohio Workers Compensation rate, all within the last 3 months. Furthermore, Rep. Zehringer, remarked even if Greenville was the greatest place in the world why would a business locate here when they could go to Richmond, IN or Union City, IN and not have these issues to deal with. Is building a new school during these turbulent economic times and increasing the tax burden on existing businesses and property owners going to help promote economic growth and retain existing businesses? Ansonia’s new school could not help them keep Master Industries in business.

They say “Now is the Time” because of low interest rates, low construction cost and government stimulus money. One could say now is the time to build a new house, all time low interest rates, low construction cost and government incentives available. Why isn’t everyone building or buying a new house then? Is it because they do not need or want a new house or is it because now is not the time to increase the burden on your household budget because of economic uncertainty?

Why a “special election” on Tuesday February 2nd? Is it they believe this is the best way to get the largest voter turnout, in the middle of winter, because it would be easy for everyone, including the elderly, to get out and vote, or the government stimulus money will be gone by the time we get to the May election? If so, they did not know this before the November ’09 election? What is the cost of a special election and who is paying for it?

In closing, I found it ironic that every leader they chose to speak on building a new school was either an elected government official or was employed by the government. Where were the business owners, the CEO’s of existing local corporations, the managers of local businesses and local business entrepreneurs? Should these types of leaders have been involved in speaking as to what is needed to help local economic growth?

R. Charles Sneed


  1. I appreciate this article. It seems well thought-out and not "emotionally charged" even when there is disagreement. I'm curious, outside of just the school, what ARE the plans for economic development for our area?

  2. It was interesting at the ambush that no one mentioned the fine educational choices that supplement the public school system - St Mary's School and Montessori both have produced a number of outstanding graduates. But perhaps more importantly in the 21st century increasing numbers of parents have chosen home schooling. This is a choice that, according to a number of studies, produces graduates capable of gaining acceptance and scholarships at outstanding universities while reducing the cost to the school system. Perhaps promoting this combination of educational choices combined with lower taxes would be more successful in attracting the new medium to lo-tech industries that must compete with “Chindia”.

  3. I too think this letter was well written. I also wonder what the plans, economic and job-wise, are for Greenville / Darke County. I wonder, is the Economic Department talking with the CEO’s and other business leaders, for their opinion and out look for our community? It only seems their opinions would be of tremendous value to see what really could be done to draw Industry and jobs to our area. What are their feelings about building a new school? What are their opinions about increased Real Estate Taxes?



  5. Our community is as good as our schools. If we want economic development, we must have an attractive school to bring businesses and their employees to our community. It goes hand in hand. Look at nearby successful communities. The communities are supportive of schools and their students. They even have PRIDE in their schools and their students! Enough said.

  6. You want new business? For crying out loud our economic development department has been turning new business down for years! Reason We dont need anymore $10 per hour jobs. They suck!!!

  7. I was very concerned when Mark Saluk and Susie Reigle and Carla Surber did their presentation to the CO2 Group. Credibility is fragile, but the leaders buy in the emotionalism of this movement. I don't believe real economic development is wanted here by the county and city leadership. They also are not supporting small businesses. If they would have stepped up to assist Broadway Joes, we might not be losing it. Instead a county commissioner is cashing in on the demise of this financial disaster. What happened to the turbine business proposed by Greg Hart? Why did Galen Blosser take his business to St Henry? The list is long and these are not all $10/hr jobs.

  8. Perhaps there is no economic development because the local businesses don't want to pay more for labor. They have managed to run off anyone paying more, so they do not need to compete for workers.

  9. They did such a great job of stopping CO2, maybe they can try running a company out of Ohio that has been pummping pressurized liquid waste under ground, such as deicing agents, leachade and other hazardous waste. They have been doing this since the early to mid 70's. I think I would much rather have CO2 in the ground then these hazardous wate.

  10. Its like the letter say,s this was a ambush to promote this new school.Do we need a new school? Yes.Do we need higher taxes on home owners?NO.There are other ways.There has to be.I just dont think they have found them yet or havnt bothered looking.My daughter is home schooled and she is doing better in home schooling than she ever did in a school building.The state furnish,s her computer and any books she needs.I take her down to the motel by the airport to take her tests once a year and thats it.NO strings attached just a good education.


  12. Really 9:29pm I had no idea, how did the ethanol plant get in they pay pretty good? I think FULL TIME $10.00 an hour w/benefits right now would be welcome. What I hate is temp. services dragging people out for months.

  13. Nice article & great comments.
    Nobody more than myself would LIKE to have new this & that but as some have said, we have to live within our means. No magic wand is going to be waved and presto jobs jobs jobs. No nice luxurious school building is going to make jobs jobs jobs. And us local business owners really dont think a new school is going to help my business. So quit trying to cram it down my throat for god sakes.

  14. Temp. services work for the companies, it's the companies that call the shots, the temp. services have to do what their customers want.

  15. Amazing! When was the last time you the opportunity to have a TOWN HALL meeting with all the elected officials who not only spoke but attended? And for that effort this hard working group and the speakers get slammed?

    Tsk Tsk.

    When was the last time everyday citizens, organized a TOWN HALL for your benefit and paid for it out of their own pocket?

    Mr.Snead and all the others who complain - what have you done for your community, what leadership have you shown? What committees have you joined to change the tide? How many one on one meetings have you had with our leaders? What positive change are you willing to lead? What office are you willing to run for?

    Until you "wear the jacket" you will never understand that public service is a hard job.

    For those who oppose the new school... if you vote no you will get what you have - or less. You'll lose more in home equity than you'll pay in school tax.

    How's that working for you?

    I'm glad I live in a community that has positive signs of mending the relationship between the public and the local leadership. I am glad I live in a community that has everyday citizens who have stepped forward to facilitate a positive change. I am glad our leaders gave up that evening to be with us.

    I attended the TOWN HALL meeting and did not feel the least bit ambushed.I was grateful to have the opportunity to hear Mayor Bowers, Marc Saluk, Susie Riegle, Carla Surber, Jim Surber and State Representative Jim Zehringer speak to the people.

    In closing, I'd like to remind each of you who spoke negatively about the schools and taxes that we have something MUCH more important to worry about... the safety and education of OUR CHILDREN. Inside those old buildings that you seem to be content to keep, are HUNDREDS of children who depend on the adults in this community to make good choices on their behalf. I urge you to stop looking at bricks and mortar and see our children.

  16. Now is NOT the time!!! A new school will NOT educate the kids!!! What I would like to know is how many people have pulled their kids out of Greenville schools because they were not happy with the school system? Also how many of the school employees are not in the school district? Are you Ms Riegle?

  17. We need a new middle school. The south and junior high schools are in deplorable conditions. The State of Ohio will help us fund a new school 40%, interest rates and building costs are low, NOW IS THE TIME to get back the tax money that the people of our community have given to the state coffers, that in the past, has gone to build new schools in OTHER COMMUNITIES. If our community rejects this money it would be another instance where we are not seeing the big picture. Tough times never last, tough people do. SUCK IT UP Greenville...let's look to the FUTURE...we need a new school and it WILL help strengthen our community for the future.

  18. Nice letter with good points. I too attended this meeting expecting to hear a plan, or at the very least, information gathering for what is needed to form a plan for economic recovery. I applaud these people for taking some initiative and putting this meeting together along with the leaders for taking time to attend but they should’ve came out and said this meeting was to explain why a new school is needed for the community and not billed as economic development. A new school may or may not be a part of economic growth, but surely it isn’t the only thing that is needed to help this community.
    In the past 3 years, I have talked to 3 different people that tried to locate a new business in the county and was turned away by our community leaders. These 3 businesses would have generated 150 plus jobs for the county. They didn’t leave and locate someplace else because of the schools, but because our community leaders did nothing to try and meet their needs. Ie: tax incentives, low interest government loans. 1 located in the county to the north, 1 located in the state but not even close to our county and the other moved out of state completely.

  19. Anonymous January 20, 2010 1:33 AM, Thats all you are looking at Bricks and mortar. A new school building will not increase our childrens education levels. Its all about the school system. Any child can get the same education in an old building or an new building. If the school system is below average, it will remain the same in an new building. Change the system not the building. When the system is top notch and parents are flocking to put their children in that school, then build an new building. This is not the case in Greenville.

  20. Hey 1:33 AM! Some of us have to work! And guess what... while those leaders you mentioned work bankers hours us working class do not have a whole lot of extra time to set up those face to face meeting your talking about. All I have to say to you is GET A CLUE! I love how you who sit around waiting for a hand out call these things a TOWN HALL meeting. Its no meeting when only one side is heard. That my friend is called a seminar. And one more thing you want to "wear the jacket"? Well put yours on and come work with me for a day and I will show you how the working class pays those officials salary!!!

  21. Anonymous 1:33 AM
    Let me go on record to say I did not slam anyone, except the “monkey with the razor blade”, especially the speakers. I commended them for their openness. My complaint is we were misled about the meetings purpose. I too, “attended” the meeting including the question and answer segment.
    Also, I would like to address your question as to what I have done to be a leader. First, I am a partner in a local business that has been in Greenville for over 35 years. We have 30 employees of which half is currently laid off because lack of work. Our average wage is more than the $10 an hour jobs that was turned away by this community. Secondly, along with 2 other business owners, I recently started a new business that employs 4 people with the hopes of more when the economy begins to recover. This business was funded with out of pocket money, along with bank loans and a couple of investors. We did not go to our local government and ask for any special considerations or tax breaks, nor did we ask for any type of hand out to help us. So as you can see we are actually putting people to work in this community so they can afford the tax increase to help pay for the new school.
    You want to talk about how hard it is to wear the jacket of a public official. Try the trench coat of a business owner. See what it is like to make payroll every Friday for 35 years, especially during troubled economic times and the increasing tax burden to help pay for the business that have left. Besides, I did not know that being a public official was supposed to be easy.
    I would welcome the opportunity to talk to any of these leaders face to face, however I never got the impression that they really want to hear what is really needed to help local business until Rep. Zehringer touched on it at the meeting.
    Also, I did not voice an opinion of the new school either way. I was asking the questions that were not answered during the meeting. If I had known that was the purpose of the meeting I would have been better prepared to ask some of those questions. Like any decision that has to be made, it is only going to be as good as the factual information it was based off of.
    In closing, why would anyone take you serious when you are not willing to sign your name to your opinion!
    R Charles Sneed

  22. Mr. Sneed - I trust with your complaints about the way new business is treated that you are an active member of the Darke Co. Chamber of Commerce and are working hard to change the past experiences so that new business doesn't have the same experience.

    Isn't it wonderful that we this forum to help each other understand each other's point of view? We all want the same thing - a better community.

    Now, the "monkey with the razor blade" I think is a nice lady who also wants change. Let's all work on getting there.

  23. Someone asked a good question above that I have not seen answered. I'll break it down into two parts, as one is easier to answer than the other:

    1) Does Susie Riegle live in the Greenville City School District?

    2) Anyone have a percentage of GCS employees that actually live in the GCS District?

    I have no idea on these answers, but wouldn't that be something to be imposing a tax on a place where you don't even live!

  24. Unfortunately some of the individuals at the Cahmber is part of the problem.

  25. BEWARE - The Big Bad Wolf is once again wearing its sheeps clothing! Vote NO on Greenville City Schools!!! You are NOT being told the full story on the mills you are voting for.

  26. At no point has the GCS tried to hide what they are requesting the school community to fund.

    The link to read the ballot is: http://www.electionsonthe.net/oh/Darke/issues/020210.pdf


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