OTTOVILLE — The heroin problem and the 6119 sewer project dominated discussion Monday at a candidates forum held at the Ottoville Municipal Center for local and state candidates.
County commissioner candidates Michael Lammers, Tony Wobler and John Welty; Ohio school board candidate Tanyce Addison; county sheriff candidates Dennis Cupp and Brian Siefker; and common pleas court judicial candidates Keith Schierloh and Todd Schroeder all entertained questions from a crowd of about 100 people.
The 6119 sewer project has drawn mixed reactions since the county received a grant to fund a feasibility study in 2014. Much of the controversy comes from potential costs to tie in to the project of the regional approach to a sewer system as well as loss of local control. Lammers was on the Putnam County Board of Health when the project first came to the forefront, and originally thought it could be a good plan. He has drawn heat despite changing his position.
“On face value, it looked like a good idea,” Lammers said. “As we got more into it, we saw where it was going. Anytime you can take two laws and make it one, it makes things easier. However, when we saw where this was going, we walked away.”
Lammers delivered that answer when asked why he had “changed his mind on the issue several times. However, Lammers specified he just changes his mind once, when he saw it was taking away local control.
Wobler and Welty both agreed that it is a good idea that the potential project has been all but scrapped. Recently,Palmer Towsnhip was the last of the entities left that had not pulled out of the project to do so.
“I sat down with city workers and asked many questions,” Wobler said. “I soon learned it would not be a good thing for many. I didn’t like the fact that if it passed within 300 foot of someone, they had to tie in. They would be looking at $20,000 to upgrade. I don’t think it was the best thing for Putnam County.”
“It didn’t sound like a good fit for the county,” Welty said.
Cupp and Siefker both agreed that the heroin epidemic was the major issue facing law enforcement right now. Schroeder and Schierloh both elaborated on area heroin use also, with Schroeder commenting that 1 in 500 people in Putnam County overdosed on heroin last year. All agreed that it was an issue to be addressed. Both judicial candidates spoke on the need of educating to help prevent heroin use.
Schierloh was asked to comment on a recent letter to the editor that was published recommending that he step down from the race. Schierloh explained that the writer, Melissa Moore, was the wife of a client he had represented in a divorce case.
“She had been involved in a relationship with someone who was in jail,” Schierloh said. “We found out and subpoenaed the recordings of the phone calls.”
Schierloh felt it was a matter of her being upset because she was caught.
When asked about what separated him from his opponent, Cupp said the primary factor was experience.
“When you look at it, the time I have been involved with law enforcement is double,” Cupp said. “That is nothing against Brian. “
Siefker said he felt that Cupp was discounting his time in the military, which he said should be counted as experience for the job.
Both judicial candidates expressed they were “passionate about law enforcement and felt they could do a great job.”
“I think Putnam County is fortunate to have two great candidates,” Schroeder said. “We can’t lose.”
Addison said she is against common core initiatives and felt that more local control should be returned to school districts. Linda Haycock, Lilli Vitale and Martha Manchester, who have also filed for the state board of education seat, were not at the forum.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @LanceMihm.