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Voters pass two local issues

| May 6, 2015

COSHOCTON – Rounds of applause were heard twice on election night. The city’s income tax increase for safety issues passed with 53 percent of the votes and the Coshocton County Career Center’s permanent improvement levy came out on top with 58 percent of the votes in favor.

“I feel wonderful and I thank the people of Coshocton,” said Cliff Biggers, president of Coshocton City Council. “They have spoken. They want to be safe and we want to help them do that.

One thousand two hundred and thirty seven people turned out to vote in the city for the safety tax, which called for a one half percent tax on income for law enforcement, criminal justice and general safety and security of the citizens and public. Six hundred and fifty-two of them said yes to the safety levy and 585 said no.

Biggers believes the city’s boots on the ground approach helped with the positive outcome.

“We educated people,” he said. “We told them what the levy was for and gave them answers to their questions.”

The committee that helped spread the word on the tax increase was called Citizens for a Safe Coshocton and was co-chaired by Glenn Mishler and Francois Servais. Mindy Fehrman was the treasurer and other members included: Biggers, Jim McClure, Dean Hettinger, Rogers, Captain Cory Wilson, Brent Endsley, Lynn Jacobs, Rev. Philip Hunt, Bob Fetters, and Jim Baker. Also contributing to the cause were: Amy Stockdale, David Corbett, John Turley and Vicky Laudick of First Step, Mayor Mercer, Coshocton Safety Director Tom Scott, Auditor Sherry Kirkpatrick, and others in the administration and on city council.

“A heartfelt thank you goes to the individual officers and staff of the Coshocton County Sheriff’s office, and in particular Officer Eric Dimatteo, for their significant effort in going door to door speaking with voters,” Mishler said.

Biggers said the passing of this tax increase relieves a lot of stress for city officials.

“There are things we want to do (for the community) and know we can do them,” he said.

The number one priority on the city’s list is to work with Sheriff Tim Rogers and get more deputies in the city. Mayor Steve Mercer said the city currently has a six month contract with the sheriff’s office that is up for negotiations in July and that also is when withholdings from this income tax increase will start.

“I’m very happy the voters supported this increase in taxes,” Rogers said. “We are going to be good stewards of the money and get our staffing levels back up so we can better provide for the safety of the community and the safety of our officers.”

The support of voters also is enabling the career center to address some of its pressing issues.

Three thousand seventy-six people recorded votes for the career center’s 1 mil., five year, general permanent improvement levy with 58 percent or 1,769 voters saying yes and 42 percent or 1,307 saying no.

“I’m very excited for our students and staff,” said Superintendent Rick Raach. “They work hard every day and now we can make improvements to help them grow even more in their fields.”

He said the first concern to be addressed will be the heating and cooling system and that they also must do updates to help accommodate the increasing number of students in the metal fabrications program.

This is the third time the school has tried to pass this levy and Raach believes their grass roots approach to educating the public made the difference.

“We took an active role in getting out and talking to people,” he said. “I believe people heard our message and then took it to their friends and family.”

Representatives from the career center spoke with 30 different community organizations and a total of 991 people.

The career center’s levy campaign was co-chaired by Tracy Haines and Rob McMasters, who are both graduates of the school. Haines’ daughter also graduated from the career center in 2013 and is now a student at Ashland University.

“She had no idea what she wanted to do,” Haines said. “She picked the career center’s early childhood program because she liked to babysit. While at the career center she got to do job shadowing at Hopewell and now she knows what she wants to do the rest of her life. The career center really helps you develop skills that you can carry with you to your adult life.”

The career center will start seeing funding from this levy in 2016, but the staff immediately started working on a five year plan to help make sure all necessary updates such as a new roof can be addressed.

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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