Battelle gives $42,000 to West Jeff band program


Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

Jonathan Alder Board of Education president Tom Bichsel accepts a banner celebrating the district’s “excellent” rating on the State Report Card from Jane Sonenshein, 10th District representative on the Ohio Board of Education.

The band budget at Jefferson Local Schools grew to over six times its average size last week.

On Oct. 9, Battelle Memorial Institute presented the district with a check for $42,000 for the high school and middle school band programs.

“They granted every request. It’s pretty incredible,” said band director Ken Huff, who earlier this year learned from a band booster parent that Battelle had funding available for non-profit organizations. He sent in an application.

Typically, the school district allocates $6,000 to $7,000 to the band programs for repairs, equipment and purchased services each year. The money from Battelle will take large-ticket items off of Huff’s wish list and into reality.

New marching band uniforms are at the top of the list. Huff said the current uniforms have been in use for at least 10 years.

“Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve had an idea of the type of design I’d like, but it always was on the high-hopes list,” said Huff, who joined the district three years ago.

Huff has already contacted the uniform manufacturer and will receive a sample uniform within a couple of weeks. If possible, he plans to purchase 60 uniforms, which will leave room for future growth of the band program, for an estimated $18,000.

Huff said the rest of the Battelle funding will go toward large instruments, including percussion items, that his annual budget has never been able to cover. Band students could see the new additions as early as January, he said.

The Battelle funding will benefit the marching band, concert band and new jazz band programs at the high school, as well as the concert band at the middle school. Approximately 100 students are involved in band across the two schools.

“We’re going to spread (the funding) as much as possible,” Huff said.

Ken Huff (left), Jefferson Local Schools band director, accepts a $42,000 check from Brenda Blanton of Battelle Memorial Institute. Also on hand were Middle School Principal Debbie Omen and High School Principal Dave Metz. The money will go toward the school district’s band programs.

Group opposed to dairy talks to Alder board

Banner goes to school district for ‘excellent’ rating on report card

Members of Darby Creek Matters, a local grassroots group, encouraged members of the Jonathan Alder Board of Education and administration to write letters to county and state officials in opposition to a proposed 5,428-cow dairy operation at state routes 29 and 38.

At the school board’s Oct. 8 meeting, Alan Garcia of Darby Creek Matters said the proposed dairy plans to spread the cows’ manure on land that lies 1,700 feet away from Monroe Elementary School.

The amount of sewage the farm would generate, 383 tons per day, is three times the amount of sewage produced daily by the population of Madison County, said Garcia, who has a child enrolled at Monroe Elementary.

Members of Darby Creek Matters, which include several area farmers, are worried about potential groundwater contamination and air quality issues. The town of Plumwood and Monroe Elementary sit downwind of the proposed dairy.

The vanBakel family from Holland owns the 5,290 acres known as Orleton Farms LLC. The owners are in the process of trying to attain permits for the dairy operation from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“Our group and our legal counsel have had significant impact on that process,” said Garcia, meaning they have slowed it down.

Whether or not the vanBakels receive a permit for their proposed dairy is up to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which, Garcia said, has never rejected a permit for a new concentrated animal-feeding operation (CAFO).

Garcia not only encouraged the school board to write letters to elected officials but also suggested they hold a public meeting about the matter.

School board member Steve Votaw said the board needs to look into the matter and take a position. He also suggested the members of Darby Creek Matters present their case to the Ohio Department of Health.

Jonathan Alder Superintendent Doug Carpenter said his office has received calls from district parents about the dairy farm issue. He said he has written letters about it to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, state Senator Steve Austria and state Representative Chris Widener. Widener was the only one to respond, he said.

“There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of response from people who are contacted about this,” Carpenter said.

For people in agriculture to oppose another ag-related business sends up red flags, Carpenter added.

Monroe Water Woes

In other business at the school board meeting, Carpenter explained how technology can be a friend or foe, depending on the timing. On Oct. 8, the superintendent called off school for students at Monroe Elementary because the water to the building kicked off at about 7 a.m.

Parts weren’t readily available for the EPA-mandated technology that supports the water system, so the repairs couldn’t be made in time to keep the school open, even on a shortened schedule.

A replacement water pump had to be ordered from Florida. In order to reopen school the next day, a maintenance staffer drove to Cleveland to purchase a used pump to get the water going until the new pump arrived. Additionally, the EPA requires that the person making the repairs be certified under their guidelines. Fortunately, the district has just such a person at their disposal, Carpenter said.

State Report Card

Jane Sonenshein, 10th District representative on the Ohio Board of Education, presented the board with a banner celebrating the school district’s “excellent” rating on the state report card.

For a school district to achieve an “effective” rating, let alone an “excellent,” requires self examination, planning and hard work by all involved, Sonenshein said.

“It’s even harder to keep it,” she added, noting that the tactics used to achieve a high rating one year don’t always work for students and staff the following year.

Carpenter reported that changes are on the horizon for the state report card. Next year, data will be collected on the progress each student is making (“value added”) and the level of courses taken by high school students. For now, such data will not be factored into report card scores, Carpenter said. 


The board recognized Cheryl Brockman for receiving a $500 grant for energy education and thanked Gehres Landscaping for the new plants, grass seed and mulch for the front of Plain City Elementary.

The board also applauded students who performed well on high school Advanced Placement tests last year: Tommy Kellett, Kendalyn Schrock, Erica Thomas and Emily Trombley for scoring a 5 (the highest possible score) on the junior English test; Luke Benedict and Clayton Greenbaum for scoring a 5 on the calculus test; and Dusty Bollinger and Adam Bollinger for scoring a 4 on the calculus test.

The next Jonathan Alder school board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at Jonathan Alder High School.

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