Ottawa Co. school district feeling unsettled over future of Davis Besse

Ottawa Co. school district feeling unsettled over future of Davis Besse
(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)

OAK HARBOR (WTOL) - The Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District Sunday celebrated it's fiftieth anniversary on Sunday.

The event was marked by a band concert, chicken dinner, geo-caching and a cornhole tournament.

Students and staff in the district are encouraged to be civic minded leaders, problem solvers and critical thinkers.

"This school is all about including everyone; the parents, staff, community members, and that's the one thing that sets our district way apart from any other districts," said student Kadence Crum.

But big changers could be coming to the district.

FirstEnergy, operator of the nearby Davis Besse Nuclear Power Plant, is threatening to close the facility.

A closure could be a financial disaster for the district.

The district receives forty percent of its property tax revenue from Davis Besse.

FirstEnergy says it's losing money from its nuclear operations at Davis Besse and two other plants it operates, one of them in Pennsylvania.

"I'm not happy about it because my grandchildren go here and this is a great school district," said Billie Sloan, who came to the celebration.

A closing would send shock waves throughout Ottawa County, affecting businesses and agencies.

Hundreds of jobs would be lost.

The Nuclear Energy Institute says the plant has an $805 million economic impact on the area.

Not everyone is necessarily on the side of the plant however.

"I think it's just a ploy from them to get more money like they've done in the past," said George Sloan.

Even if Davis Besse is not shut down, another cloud is hanging over the district.

FirstEnergy is asking the Ohio Department of Taxation to devalue its property, meaning the possibility of less revenue for the district even if Davis Besse remains open.

All this uncertainty forced the B-C-S Board of Education to pull a bond issue off the May ballot to fund a new $40 million K-7 school.

"There would be a lot of belt tightening in a significant way. That scares folks around here.  We have a great team of people here. To know that could be disrupted brings a lot of nervousness," said district superintendent Dr. Gary Parmigian.

The group 'Generation Atomic' was at Oak Harbor High School on Sunday promoting a bill that is working its way through the Ohio Legislature to save FirstEnergy's two Ohio nuclear plants.

"It's a zero emission nuclear tax credit. It would be a bit of tax relief on the state level for the plants in order to help them get the financial leeway they need to stay in the market generating energy," said Robert Kile of Generation Atomic.

Meanwhile, FirstEnergy says a decision to dump it's nuclear operations will come in the middle of next year.

For now, talk of Davis Besse's future is generating nothing but worry in Ottawa County.

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