Amherst News-Times, 2000-01-26
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E VFW honors News-Times — Page 2 I Musician tapped for state band — F Amherst News-Time • Wednesday, January 26, 2000 Amherst, Ohio Computer installation causes headache by STEVE BARRY News-Times reporter , It isn't the Fourth of July yet, but for a while it appeared that the Fourth of July had arrived early, during last week's council committee meetings. The flare up centered around the l Year-end jobs top mayor's agenda by PAUL MORTON News-Times reporter On first glance at mayor John Higgins's state of the city report to city council, it would appear that the mayor is content to coast into the new millennium by simply completing projects started in 1999 or earlier. But Higgins said the city is firing on all cylinders to get those challenges out of the way in order to be ready for new challenges. "With negotiations coming up and Nordson a little shaky, we want to guarantee we get these projects done,'* Higgins said. "You have to finish the projects right" Among the projects Higgins listed in the report to be completed are the new enclosed shelter at the Amherst- Beaver Creek Reservation, the new water tower, and the new electric storage building. Other projects, including improvements to the Jackson Street bridge, the year 2000 street program, improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, and a solution to the county's sewer-to-nowhere on RL 58 have been on the drawing board or in discussion during last year. Higgins said each of the projects relates to the threefold approach to government in Amherst in the past several years. He said the city has attempted to upgrade utility systems, improve infrastructure, such as roads and 'bridges, and improve the -city's facilities in order to better serve the public. He said the strategy is reaping benefits with 90 new homes, with a total value of nearly $18.4 million, built in Amherst last year, and businesses interested in locating here. "Our community is growing," Higgins wrote in his report "But more importantly, we as leaders of the city of Amherst are at a point in the evolution of our community where if we invest wisely, plan carefully, and put the community ahead of self- interests, the city we live in will grow correctly and will continue to be the secure, friendly and quality place that we now enjoy." Higgins said the emphasis in his report on what needs to be completed deals with his belief that if it's worth doing it's worth doing well. "Being an old maintenance manager I'd like to see all these things done right," he said. "If you don't do them right the first time, they'll come back to bile you in the end." But he said the mopping up from last year should take about the first half of the year, and he'll take the sec- CONTINUED on page 2 city's acquisition of a computer system, the hiring of a coordinator for the system, and access to files in the system. The ruckus even included accusations of possible tampering with the city's utility system files by superintendent Don Woodings, who is asking the city police to investigate his charges. The story begins in 1998 when the city authorized $171,000 for a new computer system. An electronic data processing committee was formed to establish the new system, and Amherst city auditor Diane Eswine headed up the committee. According to Eswine — who found herself on the hot seat for about 20 minutes during last week's three-hour meeting — the ordinance authorizing the new system (to circumvent any Y2K problems) was supposed to include an amendment which also allowed for the hiring of a systems/networking specialist to set up and integrate the systems. Former law director Alan Anderson did not write that clause in, and Eswine didn't notice it was missing until after the ordinance was passed. Without the clause their was no money to pay the person who constructed the network. So another ordinance had to be written to allow the hiring of a systems analyst to set up the new system. Eswine also works for the Amherst Public Library, and when the library upgraded to a networking system, library director Judy Dworkin hired Tom Mason to install and set up the new system. Through her experience with Mason in the library, and because computers are a specialty field, and as such do not require putting the project out for bid, Eswine gave him the nod to install the city's new CONTINUED on page 3 Tim Balda of Wood Works Limited displays mammoth and whale artifacts at Harris Elementary School last week. Mammoth job keeps man busy by STEVE BARRY News-Times reporter Tim Balda is a professional wood carver. But he started dealing in wooly mammoth ivory and bones when he needed something to keep his mind occupied after the death of his 10-year-old son Jake, in 1997, who was killed by a drunk driver. Balda spent several days last week at Harris Elementary School where his son once was a student, giving kids the chance to handle wooly mammoth relics from 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, an asteriod found in Argentina, and various parts of whales. "I specialize in ivory, because it pays the bills," Balda said. While much of the world's ivory trade is illegal because endangered animals are killed to procure the ivory, dealing in mammoth ivory is legal, because the animals are already extincL Most of his ivory comes from the Museum of Natural History in Russia, where archeologists ait using steam to cut into Siberian glaciers where most of the artifacts are being found, and in suprisingly good condition. Other acquistions are made from Alaska. Not long ago he found himself in hot water with the Fish and Wildlife Department. He made a purchase of a narwahl whale horn from an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It had all the proper paper work, and had even made it through U.S. Customs without a hitch. Balda was sure the purchase was perfectly legal. He purchased the piece, but after doing some checking, the Fish and Wildlife Department confiscated the $800 horn, and handed him a stiff fine on top of it "You really have to be careful dealing in this field, there are a lot of people smuggling in ivory that is illegal, and if you make a mistake, it can bite you," he said. Balda is understandably angry, because the purchase was well documented (or so it appeared) and had gotten through customs, who Students of Rebecca Karrer and Karen Anderson's fourth grade classes examine mammoth teeth, Ivory Elementary. and whale baleen should have intercepted the horn it it was contraband. The fine was merely a slap on the wrist compared to the 10-year jail sentence that could have been handed down. Because Balda is on the straight and narrow with the business, and is in constant contact with the Fish and Wildlife Department to double check such purchases, they hit him with a very light sentence. Only the Inupiat or Aluet Indians, better known as "eskimos" are allowed to cut or process whales or any parts of them. The two tribes have immunity from laws governing whale harvesting because where they live, there is nothing else for the tribes lo eat, and it has been part of tribe social life for centuries. But even they can only harvest one or two whales a year, and they mu« do ao io the old way of made harpoons, from seven-man fishing boats — not a particularly safe way to acquire food for your family, he told students. Every part of the whale is used. Their religion honors the whale and to waste any part of it would be a "sin." The baleen from the mouth of the whale is sawed apart and used for craft items the tribe sells to tourists. The whale baleen he shows to the school children came from a 90 foot Bowftn Whale taken in a whale hunt last spring. He is allowed to have the baleen, but if he cuts it or makes anything out of it, its 10 years in the slammer. Most of the ivory is mammoth ivory, and several of the pieces he had on display last week were huge. The one mammoth tusk weighed 110 lbs (estimated at 180 lbs when the big bull was alive) and was nine feet long. Each mammoth had two of these, which means the animal had nearly 320 lbs of tusk on his head to lug around. The huge tusk has already been sold to Mammoth Lakes Resort in California for $12,000. A smaller tusk was sold for $9,000. Balda estimates that the artifacts on his display table would be valued at $30,000. Most of the ivory comes in as broken pieces, which is of little value to collectors, but is in high demand by knife and jewelry makers, and as the object for an art form known as scrimshaw. Balda cuts up the smaller pieces and sells them to piano, guitar and violin companies for inlay work on the- instruments. Even mammoth teeth are valuable. Smaller ones go for about $50 while the largest tqetb can fetch $800. * Amherst eyes way to annex O for sewer The Amherst Township "sewer to nowhere" may soon become the "sewer to somewhere" according to information from the county commissioners office. The latest proposal by county engineer Ken Carney would split the sewer to nowhere into districts, with Amherst, Lorain and the airport each taking responsibility for part of the system. "Everything west and north of the intersection of RL 58 and Rt. 113 would come to Amherst," according to mayor John Higgins. The city of Lorain and the regional airport would share the remainder of the county's sewer to nowhere system. A small sewage treatment plant and retention pond would be installed at the airport to handle the increased affluent discharge. Originally Amhsrst wanted to annex all of the sewer property from Rt 58 to RL 113 to help defray costs. The county engineer proposal allows Amherst to annex 85 percent of its original goal At the present time, about 3,900 Amherst homes are tied into the Amherst sewer system, with about 500 to 600 residents still using septic sewer systems. Accepting all or part of the county's orphaned sewer system would significantly increase die amount of affluent running into Amherst's system. The mayor has contended for some time that people who use the system should help pay for the system, the concept being, "no representation without annexation". In recent meetings with the EPA, the mayor has informed the News- Times that "the EPA is demanding Amherst, do more (to the system) than originally called for. This is going to increase the cost of the project" Geologically speaking, running an interceptor line io tie the county system into Amherst's system could have additional expense. Solid sandstone bedrock and quicksand are frequently found in the area, and either or both would become a nightmare for contractors installing the interceptor, and could considerably raise the cost beyond projected estimates. Complicating matters even further is the unknown financial setback the city will experience as a result of layoffs at N rdson Corporation. Nordson is one of the city's largest tax revenues. To compensate, the city is looking into other revenues to ensure Amherst remains financially solvent. If the city is allowed to annex along Rl 58, the tap in and impact fees associated with hooking into the sewer system would help defray some of the losses. The city and county have done studies that project discharge rates from the sewer to nowhere, during the next 10.20 and 50 yean. Based on those findings it is determined that the price tag for die interceptor to Amherst will be split 60/40 between the county and Amherst, with the city paying 40 percent of the coat If the county engineer's proposal receives the commissioners approval, then actual coat studies will be done. But before acting on the engi- have asked Carney to further define the Harris
|Title||Amherst News-Times, 2000-01-26|
|Date of Original||26-JAN-2000|
|Submitting Institution||Ohio Historical Society|
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