Last updated: August 25. 2013 7:55AM - 784 Views

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Brenda Switzer says her husband does it, but John won’t have any part of confessing to his lead foot.

“He’ll put it in the paper, honey,” John pleads.

“But it’s true … you drive 80 on I-75 now. Admit it,” Brenda counters.

“Just a matter of keeping up with traffic … going with the flow,” John answers.

“Tell that to the state patrol,” Brenda follows, with a wifely smirk growing on her face.

Lt. Brant Zemelka is the commander of the state patrol in Lima, and he’s quite aware of what the Switzers are talking about. If you’ve been driving Ohio’s interstate highways recently, you also know. Since the speed limit increased to 70 mph on July 1, more people are pushing 80 miles per hour on the open road.

It’s that unwritten “buffer zone” that many of us — or should I say, many of you — live by. If the speed limit is 70 mph … you really can go 75 or 78 before the highway patrol will pull you over.

That’s risky business, says Zemelka. The law is the law, and at 71 mph, you can be picked up by the patrol.

What’s he supposed to say? He’s a state trooper, for crying out loud.

We all know (don’t we?) that there is a “sweet spot” — that miracle four or five mph of cushion that troopers will give you before sneaking up behind you, blue lights a blazing.

“Not necessarily so,” says Zemelka, towing the company line.

The state patrol has no record yet of how many speeding arrests have been made since the 70-mph law went into effect compared to a year ago. Even if it did, it would be comparing apples to oranges. The Lima patrol, for instance, surely had more arrests last year since the highway construction had yet to begin.

Zemelka did say troopers are seeing more drivers putting the peddle to metal.

“When it first was implemented, people knew we would be monitoring it closely so they were more careful. Now, it’s been a month or so and motorists are starting to push it,” Zemelka said.

There have been two cases of motorists being cited for driving more than 100 mph in Allen County, but Zemelka says that probably had more to do with reckless stupidity than it did with increasing the speed limit.

The only advice Zemelka said he can give people wishing to avoid a ticket is to watch the posted speed limit and drive accordingly.

“I told you so,” Brenda Switzer said to her husband.

“You’ve told me lots of things,” John replied, "more than once.”

ROSES AND THORNS: A quick-thinking gas station clerk finds a spot in the rose garden.

Rose: An alert clerk at the Shell Gas Station in Allentown quickly shut off the fuel lines to the gas pumps after a car driven by Jonathan McDaniel, 21, of Lima, crashed into two gas pumps Saturday, igniting a fire. Brian Helmig, of the American Township Fire Department, said the quick action may have kept the fire from causing major damage.

Rose: To Kevin Jones, who has been named the warden at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution after serving more than three months in the position on an interim basis.

Rose: To Dr. DeBow Freed, president emeritus of Ohio Northern University, who is featured in the new book, “West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage.” The book covers biographies of 180 graduates, noting Freed’s 23 years of active military duty and 32 years as president of two universities.

Rose: To Verne Bellinger, of Elida, who had her idea featured Wednesday in the nationally syndicated comic strip, "Pluggers."

Thorn: A dispute has arisen about the hiring of firefighters in Lima. Councilman Jesse Lowe wants an explanation about why attempts to hire firefighters were halted. Lowe said people applying for the job were properly following procedures, only to receive a letter saying the hiring was no longer being done. Fire Chief Mark Heffner said the department does have a valid civil service test, but postponed interviews. He would not elaborate further.

Thorn: To the exchange between Lima City Councilman Derry Glenn and Council President John Nixon at last week’s meeting. Nixon interrupted comments by Glenn, saying the councilor was making allegations without facts. Glenn shot back, “Let me finish. Don’t disrespect me. I’m not your child.” To which Nixon responded, “Thank God.”

Thorn: To Joshua Cole, 24, of Wren. Convoy police and Van Wert County Sheriff deputies picked him up for breaking into a car, and in the process of searching his vehicle, found items that were stolen earlier that day during burglaries in Wilshire and York townships.

PARTING SHOT: Money talks, but all mine ever says is goodbye.

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