The Wayne Trace School board gathered for their monthly meeting on Monday to discuss items of importance to the students, staff and community.

The first guest of the night was Jamie Hughes, a trustee from Blue Creek Township with a proposal for a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement.

Blue Creek Township is in the process of working with Ohio Renewables Holdings, LLC (ORH) to build a manure digester in Blue Creek Township on Road 79, just north of 114 by GreenTop Acres Dairy. ORH is also looking to put in a manufacturing facility where the manure will be processed and the compost it will produce to be bagged and sold.

Anaerobic digestion explained

The OHR website,, answers some commonly asked questions about this process. Basically, an anaerobic digester is a “mechanical stomach;” an enclosed machine that mimics the digestion process that harnesses the biogas produced by the anaerobic bacteria.

The biogas can be used to help power farms by generating electricity, used for vehicle fuel or plugged into the utility pipeline. “One cow’s manure can supply the equivalent of 180 gallons of gasoline per year. Four or five cows can supply enough energy to power a house.” This essentially reduces dependency on fossil fuels and heavy carbon sources. Ultimately, OHR’s main objective is to collect the biogas produced to inject it into the pipeline.

Proposing the TIF agreement

Hughes explained that the land owner was already on board with the project, and suggested that this is a way for the township to produce finances from the project to repair and maintain our roads.

This past fall, a 495-ft section of road off of 114 was redone to start gearing up for this project. A 20-foot-wide, 10-inch thick concrete road was built to sustain the heavy loads. They’ll be hauling 110,000-lb loads of manure from 10-12 different dairies in the area with an estimated 70 trucks per day to the digester. What remains is a “liquid manure” that will be stored in an underground, cement lagoon, which results in a reduction in odor that dairies without digesters normally produce.

Since the project will include a manufacturing facility that will create jobs within the community, and for the cost it will take to maintain the roads to sustain the growth and weight of this project, Hughes suggested a 100% TIF agreement for 30 years, split 70/15/15, with 70% going to Blue Creek, 15% going to Wayne Trace, and 15% to Vantage Career Center. It was estimated that the project would bring in approximately $24,000 a year in taxes, which based on the split would bring in $16,800 a week for Blue Creek Township, $3,600 a week for Wayne Trace, and $3,600 for Vantage Career Center.

Hughes informed the board that as trustees, they’ve had the ability to act independently on these projects for the past 10 years, however, this proposal would mean more money to maintain the roads “as best we can for everybody.”

The board requested some time to gather more information, specifically for an idea of how many jobs this project could create within the community.

More economic development for Paulding County

The board’s next guests were Paulding County Economic Development (PCED) Director Tim Copsey and PCED office manager, Kristen Schilt.

Copsey is working with Paulding County villages to incentivize more commercial and residential building in communities.

The Wayne Trace school board currently has Community Reinvestment Agreements (CRA’s) with the villages of Payne and Haviland, and Copsey inquired as to whether the board would consider allowing the villages of Latty and Grover Hill to do the same.

The Ohio CRA program was designed to provide property tax exemptions for property owners to construct new buildings or renovate existing ones, and Copsey is hoping to provide the same opportunities for potential businesses or renovations within the villages of Latty and Grover Hill.

Kindness week

Elementary guidance counselor Lydia Farley updated the board with a look at the students’ participation in Kindness Week. Farley provided the children with a variety of ways they can focus on the importance of showing kindness. There were awards and prizes handed out throughout the week for those who practiced kindness, and one of the students even made dog treats to bring to a local vet.

Farley is the sole guidance counselor for the elementary students in the county and is disheartened by her inability to provide the kind of care and attention these young students need. There is one curriculum, in particular, she was excited to work from with the kids regarding showing compassion towards others as well as themselves. However, this curriculum is recommended to be used twice a week in the classroom, which Farley explained is not viable for one counselor between two schools. It is clear to Farley that there is an increasing need to tend to the mental health and physical needs of these young students, and asked that the board consider adding another person for assistance.

The board and all those present expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the important and impactful work Farley is doing and are committed to finding ways to provide more help.

Other news and school reports

  • Art teacher Angie Stokes reported the art department secured a $5,000 grant
  • Treasurer Lori Davis provided information from the free breakfast program, reporting that participation was down. There were discussions regarding the connection between breakfast now being served in the cafeteria as opposed to the classroom as the main reason for the decline, however, eating in the classroom proved challenging for teachers. Not only were there messes to clean up, but teachers expressed some difficulty in getting class started while some students are still eating their breakfast. Ultimately, the board is committed to finding a way to ensure every student takes advantage of the program and gets a strong and healthy start to their day.
  • Vantage Open House/Taste of Vantage will be held Monday, February 27 from 5 - 7:30 p.m.
  • The board agreed to purchase a new air conditioner for Payne Elementary to be installed before the warmer weather hits.
  • Grover Hill Principal Jennifer Knoblauch expressed her appreciation for the staff and high school volunteer students for attending STEAM night at Grover Hill and said it was a great success. Knoblauch also spoke to counselor Farley’s request, saying they’ve attempted to bring a therapist in from Westwood Behavioral Health Center, “but we’re sitting in February and we’ve still not hired a therapist for our students, so Lydia is very very important.”
  • Payne Elementary Principal Matt Evans began by reporting that his students were very excited about counselor Farley’s coming in for Kindness Week. At the end of the month, the school will be celebrating Red Cross America week.
  • Wayne Trace Principal Mike Myers reported that the Solo & Ensemble at St. Mary’s over the weekend, saying the students performed exceptionally well and congratulated his students and staff on a job well done. Myers also reported the results from the junior high and high school GMC tournament for wrestling at Fairview: junior high and high school both finished fourth; individual champions were Corbin Kimmel; and Sam Moore achieved his 100th win.
  • Finally, Wayne Trace Junior High Principal Brock Howe began with his thoughts on counselor Farley’s reports, saying “I’ve seen over 250 kids this year for discipline, but I would say that I’ve made over 100 phone calls home to parents, and their kid wasn’t in trouble, it was just concern about their mental health heading home for the evening or their weekend.” Howe then expressed that he doesn’t find assemblies or speakers effective enough as the person conducting the assembly isn’t around to follow through. “It is something in the five years that I’ve been here, it’s sad, it is.” Howe also discussed the potential for high school students to utilize the Lifewise program.
  • In regard to issues reported by counselor Farley, councilmember Melaine Forer proposed the idea of reaching out to community members who would be willing to volunteer their time or mentor the young students, or just have someone for them to talk to or check in with them.

There was unanimous concern and compassion among the attendees for what was reported by counselor Farley regarding the youth of Paulding County. While there may be limited funding, time, resources and professionals, there are neighbors, friends, family and teachers who care. If you can be there for someone by just listening with an open heart, or if you feel like you’re alone or struggling, please reach out and know you are loved.