Kasich signs court merger

COLUMBUS – Ohio Gov. John Kasich Thursday signed legislation creating Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court. The bill received strong support in the Ohio House and Senate.

According to a release from the governor’s office, House Bill 141 abolishes the municipal courts for Fostoria and Tiffin effective Jan. 1, and “consolidates both courts and their territorial jurisdictions within the newly established Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court.” It was one of six bills Kasich signed Thursday.

“This is a Seneca County initiative, and I think it’s good government at it’s best,” said Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, who sponsored the bill. He thanked Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz, Fostoria Mayor Eric Keckler and other elected officials who backed the bill and provided testimony during the committee process.

Those who provided testimony included Tiffin Municipal Court Judge Mark Repp.

“I’m really excited,” Repp said after returning to Tiffin from the signing Thursday. “To me, it demonstrates a lot of the good things that can happen when elected officials come together and think of ways to fill needs for constituents.

“I’m really proud of this.”

The bill contains an emergency clause, allowing election to the new court to occur in November. The physical locations of the courts in Tiffin and Fostoria would remain, with the elected judge traveling between locations during the week.

Repp said he has filed his paperwork for the election. Barbara Dibble also is to be on the ballot for the position as she filed for Fostoria municipal judge.

Repp has been presiding over Tiffin and Fostoria municipal courts since July 2012, as the judge’s chair in Fostoria has been vacant since the death of Judge Barbara Marley in April 2012.

The bill signing was attended by Damschroder, Repp, Montz, Keckler and Fostoria Councilman Paul Feasel. Montz said he and the other attendees spoke at length with Kasich about Seneca County and about the legislation, which the governor said was a good collaboration.

“It’s good to see Mayor Keckler, myself and the two councils work so diligently and that we were able to come together,” Montz said. “It’s a good day for Tiffin and Fostoria.”

“I know it’s going to be good for Fostoria … and I’m excited to see it come together,” Keckler said, adding that it also is to bring at least $200,000 in savings to Fostoria without loss of services to the city.