limaohio.com

Apollo makes its case for May levy

April 25, 2013

LIMA — Apollo Career Center Superintendent Judy Wells told about 20 people gathered Wednesday at the Bath Township Fire House she wants to expand partnerships like the school has with the department.



That won’t happen, Wells added, without a yes vote at the ballot box in May.



“I could give you 100 things we want to do, but we have to start with voter support, or we are stalled,” she said.



The school will have a 1 mill levy for a renovation and expansion project on the ballot. It is the same issue 56 percent of voters rejected in November.



The levy steering committee decided to break the community up for this campaign, with various members taking the Apollo message to their communities. Bath Fire Chief Joe Kitchen, a member of the committee, hosted Wednesday’s town hall meeting. Kitchen has completed multiple Apollo programs and training since starting with the department in 1990.



“It has been a huge part of my life,” he said. “Ninety percent of the employees here at Bath have some training from Apollo. This levy is so important.”



The school is working with the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which is picking up 67 percent of a project, almost $23 million.



“You can’t beat the deal,” Wells said.



The district will be responsible for $11.64 million. Apollo will ask for an additional $18.4 million for high school career



technical and adult education, which the state will not pay for. The total voter share of the project will be just under $30 million. The bond is for 30 years.



The school also will ask for a 10-year, 0.19 mill permanent-improvement levy. The majority is mandatory for state projects. The requests for money all will be in one levy issue totaling 1 mill.



If the levy passes, the school will get an additional 82,000 square feet and be able to connect the adult education and high school buildings. The project will address space concerns, technology needs and infrastructure issues that plague the 37-year-old building.



The project will bring larger classrooms, additional science labs, career technology space, a media center addition and a lecture hall to the high school. Adult education also will get more space, including needed welding labs. Kitchen said he often hears employers say they need more welders and other skilled workers.



“When looking at Lima and Allen County as a whole, we need to make sure we have people who are ready to go for jobs,” he said.



Jed Metzger, president of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and member of the levy steering committee, said the first thing a business considering coming to the area asks is about the workforce.



“It starts in high school and then goes beyond, and Apollo is one of those assets in the community that makes that happen,” Metzger said. “Businesses want people to have the basic skills, and then they can take them to the next level. That is why Apollo is so important.”



The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $30.62 a year, or $2.56 a month. The cost is so low because voters in 11 school districts vote on Apollo levies. Those include Ada, Allen East, Bath, Bluffton, Columbus Grove, Elida, Hardin Northern, Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Wapakoneta.