Cold temperatures did little to keep people away from the annual Indian lake Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon held at the Cranberry Resort Friday morning. Representatives from local and state government offices as well as area businesses heard updates from both elected and appointed officials about agendas from their respective agencies that directly impact the Indian Lake area.
Dr. Robert Underwood, Superintendent of the Indian Lake School system started the festivities by updating the gathering on what’s been happening at the schools. He announced several building projects that have been tackled after receiving Covid-19 monies from the federal government. He spoke of the school board’s wise spending of that money that allowed the district to be ahead of the curve.
He touted technological advances that have been made, with each student now having access to their own computer and the addition of smart boards in each classroom. Safety and security have also been a concern of the boards, and the recent hiring of a school resource officer and the awarding of approximately $300,000 in grant funding to make improvements to door access control at all three buildings as well as the installation of panic buttons that will link directly to local law enforcement. The funding will also go to making improvements to the doors in the older portion of the high school as well as improvements to the school PA and camera systems.
Additionally, the district will have armed staff members in the near future. The plans are still being finalized, but he expects the trained staff to be armed in the upcoming weeks.
While the district is in good financial shape, Underwood said he understands that recent increases to some property taxes have been a hardship on many district families, but he reminded the audience that the board has specifically delayed adding any levies to the ballot. Due to high property values in the district, the State of Ohio considers the district a “rich district” when it comes to the funding formula. A renewal levy will likely be put on the ballot in November, but the district is trying to keep the taxes as low as possible.
Next, Tim Little from the Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 updated the audience on several paving projects coming to the area this spring and summer. Sections of State Routes 235, 33, and 68 are slated for resurfacing work which will be taking place in the coming months. He also mentioned discussions of a roundabout for the State Route 33 and 274 interchange has been discussed, but nothing has been officially decided.
Assistant County Engineer Michael Kerns detailed the 12-year timeline concerning the updating of flood maps. It has been a long process of different versions and corrections being made by FEMA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Logan County Engineer’s Office.
In mid-December, 2022, a meeting was held that addressed six minor discrepancies. FEMA was contacted last week, and Kerns said it is hoped that by December of this year, the maps will finally be completed and available.
Caroline Bick, Deputy Director for Ohio 4th District U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan’s office was on hand to represent Jordan, who was in Washington and unable to attend the gathering. She advised the group of what Jordan will be tackling as the newly appointed Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
He plans to investigate the ongoing crisis at the southern border and will be going to the US/Mexico border in mid-February. Bick also said he intends to end the practice of proxy voting in the House of Representatives, he intends to recognize the right for parents to choose the schools their children attend, and pass legislation to protect born-alive abortion survivors and to support mothers.
He was also instrumental in passing legislation to defund the 87,000 new IRS agents hired by the current administration and legislation that protected the US Strategic Oil Reserve.
Next on the agenda was Ohio 83rd District Representative Jon Cross. He began by thanking his local campaign chairpersons and their work this past election. He urged the crowd to continue to be active in local advocacy groups that will help the Indian Lake area.
Cross said that the state legislature is back in session and his position as the number 4 leader in the Ohio House means that the Indian Lake area will be well represented in Columbus. He thanked the crowd for their patience while battling the weed issue that has plagued the lake and said it takes the entire region to come together to solve these issues.
His position on the finance and energy committees will give the lake a voice on two very important state committees. The governor has submitted a budget and it is now being reviewed by the different committees and will be approved in the near future. He vowed to invest tax dollars wisely in schools, healthcare, roads, and state parks. While there is room for trimming in certain areas, it is the goal of the legislature to keep taxes as low as possible.
Last on the agenda was ODNR Chief Glen Cobb. He shared the ODNR’s plans for this coming year. The agency’s goal is to continue to make progress in protecting the lake due to the lake’s significant impact on local businesses.
The department will focus on four strategies in 2023: monitoring, herbicide application, harvesting, and maintenance dredging. The ODNR is finalizing a contract to obtain a lake management company. Restorative Lake Sciences has been contracted to begin monitoring lake vegetation beginning this Spring. They will monitor treatment areas and lake conditions and make recommendations for chemical and mechanical treatments.
Once the effectiveness of 2022 herbicide applications has been determined, the ODNR will move forward with herbicide applications. They will decide on treatment areas and the size and extent of application areas will be determined. It is possible that treatment could begin by April and conclude by June. The goal is to reduce the number of invasive species in the lake as much as possible.
Harvesting operations will focus on coon tail and curly leaf pond weed. ODNR will use state-owned equipment and employees to conduct harvesting and continues to accept bids from local companies to help.
Maintenance dredging will be done with state equipment and employees and will focus on navigational channels and silt traps in the lake. A community task force will help the ODNR to identify additional dredging locations as needed.
The event was co-sponsored by Bud’s Marine, RV Wholesalers, Thompson, Dunlap, and Heydinger, and Open Road Renewables.