Board OKs countywide notification

Seneca County commissioners approved legislation Tuesday morning that is to upgrade the county’s emergency notification system.

The board appropriated funding for Inspiron’s Wireless Emergency Notification System, which sends notifications to all county residents during emergencies.

Seneca County EMS Director Ken Majors said the county never has had a mass notification system outside of outdoor warning sirens. He said vendors for a system have been vetted for two to three years.

Majors said Inspiron’s system had the best price and had other bonuses, including that it is an Ohio company and will send personnel for training.

“This is a robust system that brings our system into the new millennium,” he said. 

The system provides voice, text and email notifications during emergencies such as tornadoes or other severe weather. Majors said the system integrates with social media and National Weather Service alerts.

Majors said Tiffin, Fostoria and Seneca County are to split the cost of the system, each paying about $3,333 annually for a three-year deal.

He said the new program replaces a phone-tree system originating from Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.

“This will be a lot easier, a lot quicker and you’ll be able to get these notifications wherever you are,” Majors said.

He also said non-emergency alerts can be sent to county residents who opt-in for the service.

“You don’t have to get every alert, just the ones you want. In a true emergency, we push those out and everyone will get them,” he said.

Majors said the system could be operational in about a month.

In other news, Bloom Township resident Chris Aichholz distributed a good neighbor agreement document from sPower, a company that is proposing a wind turbine project in Seneca County.

The proposed project in Seneca and Sandusky counties covers about 30,000 acres — roughly south of Green Springs, north of Republic and southwest of Bellevue. The proposed turbines are to generate about 200 megawatts of electricity and APEX officials claim the 30-year deal would bring about $38 million to landowners, $36 million to schools and $18 million to the counties and townships.

Aichholz said sPower is offering neighbors of people getting a turbine money to sign a “good neighbor agreement.”

He said by signing the agreement, residents forfeit all rights and are prohibited from taking legal action against neighbors or the company. Aichholz also said the agreement is a “gag order” since it requires the signer to keep all information confidential.

The contract states the payments are $500 within 30 days of signing, another $500 within 30 days of the wind farm becoming operational and $500 annually within 30 days of the anniversary date of the wind farm opening.

It also states the signer would waive setback requirements.

Aichholz asked commissioners to hold a public meeting to continue discussion of the wind project.

Commissioner Mike Kerschner said a meeting is a good idea, but commissioners shouldn’t organize it. He suggested residents schedule a meeting with the Ohio Power Siting Board and other state officials, since they have a direct influence on the project.

“We aren’t making decisions,” Kerschner said.

In other business, Commissioner Holly Stacy said the Wolf Creek Ditch project is about 90 percent complete.

She said County Engineer Mark Zimmerman told her the project is to remove obstructions from the main ditch of Wolf Creek from the Seneca-Hancock line near Alvada to the Seneca-Sandusky line near Bettsville.

About two months ago, several residents raised concerns with the project’s contractor. Concerns included materials being removed from the channel but left close to the stream and eventually re-entering it.

Residents said they believed the contractor was not following design plans.

Stacy said the issues have since been remedied and said Zimmerman was pleased with progress. She said the contractor has taken a break to complete work on another project, but said the ditch project should be completed within the confines of the contract. She also said the contractor was given a 60-day extension to complete work because of the need for a break.

“It’s positive news that we are that far along,” she said.

In new business, commissioners approved:

• A $118 supplemental appropriation to the Clerk of Courts Computer Fund.

• The disposal of a 1991 International dump truck and a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass.