Portage to start reducing budget requests for 2014

Portage County's annual tax budget will be voted on by commissioners later this month. It shows a tighter fiscal picture for next year than this.

It is sometimes called a "wish list" because it is typically used by elected officials and department heads to list their needs for equipment, staff and programming.

The tax budget shows the county general fund starting with a cash balance of $2.37 million, less than half of the $5.78 million balance for this year, and a stabilization reserve of $839,906.

Receipts for next year are estimated at $34.95 million compared to receipts of $41.73 million in 2012 and an estimated $39.78 million this year. General fund expenditures for 2014 are estimated at $40.49 million, $5.84 million more than estimated receipts.

The largest single area in the budget is the sheriff's department, with an estimate of $13.48 million next year, compared to $12.11 million for this year.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

$2.8 million shoot house

unveiled at training camp

The Ohio National Guard celebrated the grand opening of its newest training facility at the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center on July 1 with a literal bang.

High-ranking members of the guard's leadership fired the inaugural shots at targets inside the camp's new $2.8 million "shoot house."

Flanked by garrison commander Lt. Col. Ed Meade, Brigadier Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio's assistant adjutant general for the Army, called the shoot house "truly one of the next evolutionary steps" in training at Camp Ravenna.

"It is critical in a post-persistent conflict environment that we keep the skills of our soldiers, sailors and airmen sharp, on a razor's edge without eroding," he said.

Soldiers will use the shoot house to learn how to search and clear buildings of threats, engage in close quarters combat, respond to "active shooter" incidents and hostage situations, he said, improving team-building concepts.

-- Dave O'Brien, Record-Courier

Portage might negotiate

with RMH over land price

A meeting between Portage County commissioners and the head of Robinson Memorial Hospital last week indicates there may be negotiations coming in the dispute over how much commissioners will pay the hospital for the land under The Woodlands at Robinson nursing home.

Commissioners met with Stephen Colecchi, the hospital's president and chief executive officer, to discuss the issue. Colecchi expressed surprise that there was disagreement over the fact a payment was due the hospital.

Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio said the dispute wasn't that some payment was due, the disagreement was over the amount.

Commissioners have balked at paying the $490,000 value set by their appraiser before the county-owned nursing home was sold to Saber Healthcare Group. The county received $7.6 million from the private nursing home company, which has been directed to pay for construction of the new municipal courthouse going up in Kent.

Colecchi said the county commission agreed before the sale to pay the fair market value of the 6.9 acres of vacant land under the nursing home. That was in order to get the hospital board of trustees to formally decline the hospital's option to purchase the nursing home.

-- Mike Sever, Record-Courier

Meth sentence rendered

A Streetsboro woman recently was sentenced to two years in prison for making methamphetamine at a Franklin Township residence in January.

Sheaha J. Hardesty, 31, received her sentence from Portage County Common Pleas Judge John Enlow. She pleaded guilty in May to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, a third-degree felony, and faced one to three years in prison.

Enlow ruled that Hardesty's prior criminal record made her ineligible for probation. He ordered her to report to the Portage County Jail on July 1 to begin her sentence.

Hardesty and three other people were arrested Jan. 29 after the Portage County Drug Task Force raided a suspected meth lab on West Shore Drive in Franklin Township. Two co-defendants also pleaded guilty to meth charges.

2 Volunteers of America

organizations in Ohio join

Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio and Volunteers of America of Northwest Ohio officially combined operations July 1 after unanimous votes by both organizations' boards of directors. The $45 million, expanded statewide organization will retain the Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio name and welcome the Northwest Ohio affiliate staff and programs aboard.

The strategic move to consolidate the two affiliate organizations' similar human service programs under one umbrella supports shared ambitious growth goals to help more people and increase impact in years to come.

The expanded organizations' programs serving more than 34,000 each year provide services such as long and short-term shelter for homeless men and women, veterans and families, food pantries, educational programming for youth, affordable and supportive housing for seniors, those with mental health needs, individuals and those with disabilities, mental health and addiction treatment for veterans, reentry services for those recently released from prison and job readiness, training and retention programs for homeless and at-risk veterans.

The addition of the Northwest Ohio service area will expand Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio's reach across the entirety of the state's 88 counties, with programming focused in the metro areas of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Mansfield, Sandusky and Toledo, plus some amaller communities .

Art on the Hill coming up

Mantua's Art on the Hill will take place July 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Route 44 and East Prospect Street. About 70 artisans are expected to participate. There will be a Chinese auction, food and entertainment, plus wine tasting.