• Fri. Aug 12th, 2022

Pandemic impacts, November election results topped 2021 NM stories list

FREMONT – For a second consecutive year, COVID-19 took first place on the annual list of the 10 best articles of the News-Messenger.

As 2021 draws to a close, News-Messenger has the 10 best stories of the year.

This is Part 4 and includes stories about the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local schools, businesses, hospitals and government agencies, as well as the November election with several contested city council races and from the Fremont School Board.

2. The holders emerge victorious from the municipal council of Fremont, from the races of treasurer; Voters Say No to City Income Tax

Fremont City Council incumbents Chris Liebold, Justin Smith and Jim Sleek all won their nominations for re-election in November, with city treasurer Holly Elder also emerging victorious in a close race with challenger Kristine Weiss.

Voters have rejected a proposed city income tax levy to help fund a five-year highway program in Fremont.

Liebold narrowly won a second term, beating Republican challenger Tim Honaker in the council race in the Fourth Quarter.

The unofficial total of votes released by the Sandusky County Electoral Board showed Liebold had 227 votes, or 51.47 percent, compared to Honaker’s 214, or 48.53 percent.

Liebold said he got down to business and felt he did a good job representing citizens on council during his first term.

“People know I support them. And I think it showed in tonight’s results,” Liebold said.

Smith defeated Democratic challenger Cassandrea Tucker in the Council’s First Ward race.

“I am very excited. I am very grateful that voters trusted me for a second term,” said Smith.

Fremont city councilor Justin Smith defeated Democratic challenger Cassandrea Tucker in the council's First Ward race in November.

The Republican incumbent’s margin was wider than in 2017, when Smith won by a very slim two-vote margin over Democrat Don Nalley.

Sleek defeated Republican challenger Andy Roberts in the Council’s Second Ward race.

Based on the unofficial results of the Sandusky County Board of Elections, Sleek won with 244 votes, or 58.44%, against 171 votes for Roberts, or 41.20%.

Sleek said his strong support in the Second Ward stems from the fact that he has lived there for over 45 years and the city councilor’s accessibility to residents who need to discuss issues or ask questions.

“It makes me feel good to gain their support,” Sleek said.

Elder, who served as the city’s treasurer for 14 years, received 966 votes, or 51.49%, against 910 votes for Weiss, or 48.51%.

The incumbent Democrat said her 14 years of experience and doing her job as treasurer well resonated with voters.

“The citizens of Fremont recognize the service I have rendered to the community by being responsible for taxpayer dollars,” Elder said.

Voters in the city have rejected an income tax levy proposal that would have helped fund an ambitious five-year highway program to fix the streets of Fremont.

The unofficial results of the Sandusky County Electoral Council showed 1,024 voters, or 54.82 percent, voted against the income tax levy, with 848 voters in favor.

The city’s ambitions to beautify major arteries such as State Street were based on voters’ approval of a new 0.5% income tax levy to fund a proposed road remediation program. over five years.

The full scope of the city’s proposed five-year road remediation program was expected to cost between $ 12 million and $ 14 million, Auditor Paul Grahl told council at its June 3 meeting.

1. Pandemic Still Affects Sandusky County As Case Count Rises

The number of COVID-19 cases in Sandusky County has seen a number of peaks and valleys in 2021.

In January, the county saw a 50% reduction in new cases and no shortage of hospital beds, following the state’s trend with COVID-19.

After hitting a low in early summer, Sandusky County’s COVID cases began to increase in August and September.

In September, Sandusky County recorded 1,095 positive cases of COVID-19, the largest on record since 1,520 were recorded in December 2020.

The numbers are pouring in:Sandusky County COVID Cases Rise As Hospitals Feel Increase

Deb Agee, director of nursing for Sandusky County Public Health, prepares a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic held at the Terra State Community College Student Activity Center.  The COVID-19 pandemic and its local impacts topped the News-Messenger's Top 10 list in 2021.

Figures released by the Ohio Department of Health on Dec. 8 showed Sandusky County the fourth highest statewide case per 100,000 population over two weeks at 1,035.6 .

The statewide average was 718.5.

Bethany Brown, the county’s public health commissioner, told News-Messenger in December that the county is seeing 40 to 50 new cases of COVID per day, up from 20 to 30 new cases per day in November.

According to the Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, since the pandemic began in 2020, Sandusky County has recorded 10,300 cases with 671 hospitalizations and 184 deaths.

County health care providers urge public to take precautions

More than 31,000 residents of Sandusky County, or about 53%, have started their COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the state’s health department.

Terra State Community College Associate Professor Amy Anway receives a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine from Sandusky County Registered Public Health Nurse Sarah Eden at the college's student activity center.  The college and the health service have teamed up to organize a recall clinic.

Residents of Sandusky County have been urged to be vigilant before Christmas, to stay home if they are not feeling well, and to test for COVID-19 at home or in doctors’ offices and pharmacies during this time of the year. holidays.

Healthcare providers across the county have issued a call to action as the county’s healthcare system nears capacity.

The press release issued on December 20 was signed by Bellevue Hospital, ProMedica Memorial Hospital, NOMS Doctors, Sandusky County Emergency Medical Services, Sandusky County Public Health and Public Health Services. community Health.

Hospitals close to capacity:Sandusky County healthcare facilities approaching vacation capacity nearby

Jamie Belcher, public information office for the Sandusky County Health Department, said people should avoid emergency rooms if possible, unless it is seriously necessary.

Dr Jennifer Hohman said she witnessed the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on Sandusky County.

“The healthcare system and its workers were tired two years ago before the COVID pandemic. Now this system and its team are exhausted. It was purely the heroism of the healthcare workers who helped us get this far, but now they’re running on steam, ”Hohman said in a press release. “What started as a sprint has now turned into an incredibly long marathon. We need everyone’s help, doing everything we can to stop the virus or we will see even higher levels of death and disease. “

COVID workforce issues persist for area businesses and schools

Worker shortages exacerbated by the pandemic remained a problem for many local businesses throughout 2021.

As of July, thousands of jobs remain vacant within a 25-mile radius of the county, with many openings in healthcare and counseling, 4,433; manufacturing industry, 2,475; and in administrative and support services, 1,746 jobs, according to Casey Morrow, manager of workforce and program initiatives for the Sandusky County Department of Employment and Family Services.

The Sandusky County Employment and Family Services Department itself needed a job fair in June as it looked to fill several vacancies.

Melanie Allen, director of the county’s employment and family services agency, said her office was down about 10%, with about nine positions open out of her regular workforce of 91 jobs.

Schools in the city of Fremont felt the pinch of its own labor shortage until the end of November.

FCS Superintendent Jon Detwiler was called in for a week four days in a row to replace him as a substitute bus driver because the district had no one else available on its sublist.

The struggle of schools in the city of Fremont to find workers mirrored that of businesses in the area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That meant Detwiler, building managers, teachers and support staff wore even more hats as they tried to fill in the gaps and cover shifts.

Detwiler said that before COVID, the school district would be 100% covered in terms of staff most of the time.

More featured stories:Honoring County Economic Development, Turnpike Plaza Murder Makes Top 10

Gary Click Representative R-Vickery visited several Fremont City Schools locations in November to draw attention to labor shortages linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For September, FCS averaged 11 vacancies per day, October 13 and November is back to 11.

The superintendent said in October that the district was unable to fill 41% of its daily staff absences, a fill rate of 59%.

“Teachers are encouraged to help cover lessons, which takes away their planning time,” Detwiler said. “Support staff (cooks, caretakers, helpers) are just asked to do their best. I had to drive a bus for four consecutive days due to a lack of drivers. We expect not to be able to cover all roads this winter, which will cause extreme delays for some roads. “

If the number of COVID drops dramatically and there is no persistent pandemic, that would help a lot, Detwiler said.

The impact of the virus can be seen on district buses, where all drivers and passengers are still federally mandated to wear masks.