Posted By Gayla Fleming,
Monday, February 20, 2012
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Weekly News 2.20.12
- AEP Rate Increase.
Last week brought a lot of attention to the AEP rate increase that took
affect the first of the year. As electric bills hit late January and
early February and many businesses received dramatic increases, there has
been a major push-back on AEP and PUCO by those affected. Last week
it was reported that PUCO is reconsidering the Electric Security Plan that
it had approved last December. PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler advised
that PUCO will review the issue and come up with a change within a
month. An article
in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch explained the current situation and
that the original plan submitted by AEP was much more beneficial to small
businesses. However, through the negotiation process, one in which
small businesses were not represented as a group, the plan changed to the
existing format which hits small businesses very hard. The article
indicates that the PUCO Board will address the issue this coming Thursday
by revising the plan to benefit small businesses.
- Athens County
on Road Bonding Agreement. An
article in the Athens Messenger last week indicates that
the Athens County Commissioners have approved "an agreement to protect
county roads and bridges from damage from oil and gas drillers, loggers,
mining companies and others…” OFA learned of this almost immediately
after the County
last week, as many in the wood industry had heard about it. What
particularly caught people’s attention is the statement on the imposition
of a $250,000/mile bond. I am checking into the issue, and it remains
unclear at the moment. After speaking with the Athens County
Prosecutor and ODOT, it appears that what may have been discussed at the
meeting is an "agreement” template for oil and gas drillers that the
County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO) has developed with ODOT.
Here is a copy of the template. Prosecutor Blackburn advised that he must review and approve
this before it becomes effective. What remains unclear is if and how
this applies to logging. ODOT advised that the template agreement
was intended strictly for oil and gas activities. The Messenger
article indicates that the Commissioners may have approved
otherwise. OFA will continue working this issue hard and do whatever
necessary to prevent this from being adopted for logging activities.
It remains my understanding that local officials do not have road
bonding authority, and even more, applied on a "selected industry basis.”
- Other Log
Truck Road Issues. I continue to get reports of a large number of
Highway Patrol and PUCO enforcement actions on log trucks in southern Ohio. It
appears that on February 1, enforcement action picked up on overweight
actions. Log truck haulers should be aware that the Ohio Revised
Code states that during February and March, the 7.5% weight tolerance does
not apply and is not allowed. Some haulers are being hit with
overweight citations even though they are within the tolerance
weights. However, the law is not clear on the new provision
(approved July/2011) for trucks hauling wood chips and other forest
products. There does not appear to be specific language exempting
February and March. I am checking into this provision and will
- Concerns with Logging on Drilling Sites. I learned last week that there are some potentially
dangerous activities taking place in some areas where logging is being
done as a pre-drilling activity. In some cases, logging and
excavating are being administered very aggressively and with less than
desirable coordination, to the point that safety is being
compromised. OFA is looking into these concerns. I would
appreciate hearing from any members who are involved in pre-drilling site
logging and clearing so that I can get a good understanding of the
- Senator Dave Daniels (R-17) Appointed Director of Ohio
Department of Agriculture (ODA).
Last week, Governor Kasich appointed Senator Dave Daniels as the new
Director of ODA. Senator Daniels is from Highland County
and has been a life-long farmer operating Daniel’s Brothers Farm.
Prior to being a state senator, he spent 18 years in public office serving
as a Highland County Commissioner, Greenfield City Councilman, and mayor
- FMCSA Truck Hours of Service Final Rule –Effective
December 2011. The Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration put out a new rule for Hours of Service effective
December 2011. Briefly, the HOS rule reduced the total
number of hours a truck driver can work in a week from 82 to 70
hours. Daily maximum hours remain at 11, but, there must be at least
a 30 minute break after 8 hours of driving. Drivers that meet the
weekly maximum hours must take at least 2 nights’ rest from 1 AM to 5 AM
as part of the "34-hour restart” provision. A driver who operates 3
or more hours beyond the maximum (or an employer who allows a driver to
exceed the maximum) is subject to serious penalties of up to $2,750 per
driver or $11,000 for companies. A summary of the rule can be viewed
- Electronic Crossties Magazine – January/February
Edition. If you want to read a
digital version of the latest Crossties Magazine, you can link to it here.
With the OFA Annual Meeting concerning shale formation drilling in Ohio, one of the
lead articles in the magazine discusses how the tie market has responded
to increased drilling activity. Also, the March/April edition of the
magazine will be dedicated to the sawmill members of the Railroad Tie
- NHLA Webinar on the American Hardwood Promotion. No doubt some of you have heard about the
American Hardwood Promotion (AHP) efforts that were developed to unify the
message and identity for American Hardwoods as a marketing strategy.
You can learn more about AHP on a webinar hosted by NHLA on Tuesday,
February 21 at 2 PM (est.). The webinar is no-cost but you need to
pre-register if you are interested. You can do so at
- Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Flyer. Here is a copy of a flyer OFA received from The Nature
Conservancy that was developed with the Davey Tree Company to help educate
landowners in the ALB infested area of southwest Ohio. Also, you can view the ALB
eNewsletter from USDA that provides summary of ALB activities in Ohio, Massachusetts,
New Jersey, and New York.
- OFA Annual Meeting, March 23-24, 2012, Crowne Plaza
– Downtown Columbus. Plenty of time to register for the OFA meeting,
which you can do on-line.
- If you are interested in going on the OWIN Tour to the
OSU Thompson Library, it will be important to register early to get a
seat on the bus. Parking will be an issue and participation in the
guided tour will be difficult for those parking on their own.
- The Ohio Tree Farm Committee continues to request
items for the silent auction conducted during the meeting. You can
bring items to the event, or you can contact Walt and Donna Lange
(419-825-5792) if special arrangements are needed.
- Exhibit and Sponsorship opportunities are still
available. You can find information on-line
or contact Gayla Fleming at 614-497-9580, ext. 5.
- There are still tickets available for the Columbus Blue Jackets
Hockey game on Friday night. Tickets are just $34 and include your game
ticket, a souvenir hat, popcorn, hotdog and soda. Tickets are going fast
so reserve yours today.
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