The Marietta Times, April 26
Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, is excited about the record number of new businesses being established in the Buckeye State — more than 13,700 new filings in March alone. That is part of a long trend of increases in new business filings, for which Obhof hopes to give credit to tax cuts he says “benefited small businesses and really provided tax fairness to people who are sole proprietors.”
By “small businesses,” Obhof means employers of perhaps 10 to 20 people, and the reality is that a significant percentage of those new filings are one-person operations. The announcement about all those new filings did not include data on how long each of those businesses is able to stay open.
Nor does it analyze how many of those new entrepreneurs are taking a risk after having lost a job at one of the larger employers that has had to reduce staff or shut down altogether.
Ohio’s unemployment rate is still considerably higher than the national average (4.4 percent in March, compared with 3.8 percent for the country as a whole).
Lawmakers are correct to celebrate victories such as the hope in the economy displayed by 13,700 new filers who decided to give it a go last month. But in addition to those targeted tax cuts aimed at helping small businesses get established, there should also be an effort to make Ohio enticing enough to the larger employers that they, too, regain a foothold in the Buckeye State.
The Canton Repository, April 24
Pause for a moment to give thanks no one was killed; no one was injured seriously.
Now take another few moments to consider the dangers of America’s hottest outdoor design feature: the backyard fire pit.
Early Tuesday, a family sleeping in its North Canton home escaped harm when neighbors alerted them to fire on their property — a blaze caused when an unattended fire in the homeowners’ pit had reignited and quickly engulfed a shed and detached garage nearby.
According to the North Canton Fire Department, the fire then reached the back wall of the house and continued spreading.
Damage was estimated at about $150,000, with the house declared a total loss.
One firefighter sustained minor injuries but did not need medical attention, the department said.
Fire pits are becoming nearly ubiquitous in backyards across our area and the country. Various media have cited an American Society of Landscape Architects ranking of outdoor design elements as listing fire features as today’s most popular, trending ahead of outdoor lighting and wireless connectivity.
With that popularity, however, comes an increase in accidents and injuries — mainly burns from direct contact with pits, but also from secondary fires caused by placing the pits too close to other structures or leaving embers unattended.
Injuries from outdoor fires have increased about three-fold in the past decade, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. About one-fourth of the burn victims are under the age of 5, according to published reports, and many are burned the next day, when abandoned coals can remain hot.
Several safety agencies and insurance carriers offer tips for fire pit safety. Most are simple common sense.
Here are a few to keep in mind:
. Build your fire pit on a level surface, placing raised pits on brick, tile or concrete blocks, not directly on the grass.
. Keep fire at a safe distance — at least 10 feet — from homes, fences, tree branches and other potential sources of flammable material. The more clearance, the better.
. Don’t build a fire pit with river stones. The moisture in such stones can heat rapidly, exploding the rock. Use dry, rough stones instead.
. Avoid using pits during windy conditions that can allow embers to spread.
. Put your fire out safely with water, then gently stir and spread the ashes. Leave the area only when the ash is cool to the touch.
. Keep buckets or water (or sand) or a garden hose at the ready for an emergency.
More and more people are deciding fire pits add beauty to their landscaping and enhance their time outdoors. Beware, though, the inherent dangers. Don’t play with fire.