Thursday, March 23, 2017

Near tragic Grand River kayaking mishap illustrates importance of preparation

When four Northeast Ohio young men decided to float the Grand River in kayaks they soon discovered how potentially fool-hardy such an undertaking can be on the second day of spring.

The four men each saw their respective kayak capsize, plunging them all into the Grand River’s still-frigid waters on the cusp of sunset. And one of the four went unaccounted for more than three hours. That turn of events set off a search that involved five local first-response agencies along with a request for two helicopters to conduct night-time illuminated searches of the Grand River’s deep ravine maw.

And the experience helps highlight the dangers of trying to capture a river with a paddle when the stream has a nasty temperament brought about flooding from snow melt or rainfall, says the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Watercraft.

Engorged by snow-melt run-off from the numerous small tributaries that claw their way into the Grand River, the stream’s flow on March 21st was around 2,500 cubic feet per second; well above the day’s average of around 1,400 cubic feet per second.

Madison (Lake County) Fire District interim chief Terry Sapko said the victims set off at Ashtabula County Metro Parks’ Harpersfield Dam Park in Harpersfield Township. Their goal was to use the Grand River’s now-swift waters to carry them the roughly 8.5 miles to the intended take-out point at Lake Metroparks’ Hidden Valley Park in Madison Township.

The quartet only made approximately half-way to around County Line Road, Sopko said, before all of the kayakers ran into serious trouble. All of the kayaks flipped, spilling the paddlers into the stream. While three of them successfully made it to shore, their unnamed 23-year-old companion from Geneva Township was feared not so fortunate, Sopko said.

Complicating matters in terms of exposure to the elements, Sopko said also that the kayakers were minimally dressed for protection against the sub-freezing air temperature and near-freezing water temperature.

But at least all four young men were wearing PFDs, Sopko did say.

“The three paddlers called us to say that one of their members was unaccounted for,” Soko said.

The fire chief added that dispatch was informed of the incident around 7:30 p.m., which is within minutes of official sunset and made all the more dark by the steep narrowness of the Grand River’s gorge.

Soko said once the missing kayaker had made it to shore he climbed the river’s gorge and walked through the woods, all the time dripping wet and wearing very little in the way of clothing.

“He didn’t know where he was,” Sopko said.

Fortunately, Sopko said, the young man located a home from where he managed to contact his father via cell phone and who was at the first responders’ operation base at Hidden Valley Park.

Once the rescue party learned that the missing kayaker was safe the family insisted that he be taken to a local hospital for a thorough examination, Soko said.

As for the kayaks, the vessel that had held the once-missing paddler was seen scooting past Hidden Valley Park, rapidly being shuttled downstream by the Grand River’s fast current. It and the other three kayaks have not been recovered at press time, either, Sopko said.

All of which illustrates the risks associated with paddling any stream that is bloated from rain run-off or snow melt, says officials with the state’s Parks and Watercraft Division.

The agency says that between 2012 and 2016, 15 people have drowned in paddle-sports-related mishaps: nine fatalities associated with kayaks and six linked with canoes. That’s a goodly number too given that of the 505,524 pleasure craft vessels registered in Ohio last year fully 190,752 of them – or nearly 38 percent – were canoes and kayaks, including those owned by canoe liveries.

Compounding the tragedy, said also Mike, Miller, the boating law administrator for the Parks and Watercraft Division, was the fact of the 15 persons who died only one was wearing a personal floatation device.

Along with that statistic Miller noted too that seven were associated with operator inexperience or else operator inattention, three to passenger behavior, two associated with alcohol impairment, one filed under “dam/lock,” one with no PFD and the victim unable to swim, and one associated with reckless operation.

“Always remember to wear a life jacket, have a float plan and dress for falling into the water,” Miller said. “And make sure you do not paddle in water above your skills.”
Miller said that beginning this year his division will be teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the paddle-sports industry to include the 10-page, full-color “Be Safe, Be Smart, Have Fun – A Beginner’s Guide To Safer Paddling” brochure with each new kayak and canoe sold.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, March 17, 2017

Remington lays off 122; agrees to Model 700 lawsuit settlement

This is taken from the March 16th 2017 issue of “GunsAmerica,” an exceptionally well done, in-depth and on-line media regarding all things firearms and the firearms industry.

“Remington Settles ‘Faulty Trigger’ Lawsuit, Lays Off 122 Employees

“by S.H. Blannelberry on March 16, 2017

“It’s been a good news/bad news sorta week for Big Green.

"Bad News

“First, the bad news. Remington announced that it has laid off more than 120 workers at its factory in Ilion, New York.

“The small arms industry is facing significant near-term challenges related to slowing order velocity and high channel inventories; a dynamic from which Remington is not immune,’ said Jessica Kallam, Remington’s manager of media relations and public affairs, in a statement.

“After exploring all the options available to us, we are compelled to reduce our work force by releasing 122 team members today at our Ilion, N.Y. site,’ the statement continued. ‘As we move forward, we will continue to monitor all segments of the business for growth opportunities.’

“Remington has had a facility in Ilion since the 19th century which has become part of the lifeblood of that small upstate community home to around 8,000 residents. Even with the layoffs, Remington still employs 960 people, according to Ilion Mayor Terry Leonard.

“Mayor Leonard expressed concern about the fate of the plant’s future, given that Remington opened a new facility down in Huntsville, Alabama in 2014. As part of consolidation efforts, 231 Ilion workers were let go in August and November of 2014.

“Should they ever just close down totally, it would be a total catastrophe for the entire area here,’ the mayor told Reuters.

“While Remington insists that the changes in personnel are due to market conditions, at least one state lawmaker sees this as a result of the draconian NY SAFE Act of 2013 that ratcheted up regulations on firearms in the Empire State.

“It’s very troubling that 122 of our neighbors have lost their jobs due to poor economic policies pushed by Gov. Cuomo and Assembly Democrats as well as the SAFE Act,’ said New York State Assemblyman Brian Miller of the 101st District in an interview with WKTV.

“’ Make no mistake, there is a direct correlation,’ he added. ‘My staff and I remain fully committed to helping those affected by layoffs and will assist them and their families in any way we can.’

“The Cuomo regime and the SAFE Act may share in some of the blame but there is little doubt that gun sales have waned since Obama left office. FBI Background checks (a bellwether for gun sales) are down 17 percent in January and February this year when compared to the same period in 2016.

“Many predict that with Trump in the White House, the decline in sales will continue for the foreseeable future.

“ ‘We do believe that having a Republican in the White House…negatively impacts gun sales in that it effectively eliminates any threat of new gun regulation for the foreseeable future,’ said James Hardiman, managing director of equities research for Wedbush Securities Inc.

“Hardiman told Reuters that he forecasts a 10% to 15% decline in FBI background checks for 2017.

The move by Big Green follows a number of other belt tightenings around the industry; including reported layoffs at SilencerCo and the announcement this week that outdoor retailer Gander Mountain would file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and close 32 locations.

"Good News

“Now, for the good news. A federal judge approved a settlement that arose from the notorious ‘faulty trigger’ class action lawsuit against Remington.

“Why is it good news for Big Green?

“Well, it puts to bed the longstanding claim that throughout the years Remington was making rifles with defective trigger mechanisms that would fire a round without the trigger being pulled.

“Moreover, the payout is minimal. Only $12.5 million, with each class representative receiving $2,500 after attorney fees and expenses for the plaintiffs have been subtracted.

“That’s chump change compared to estimates that suggested that Remington would be on the hook for almost half a billion dollars considering that there are upwards of 7.5 million rifles in circulation that would allegedly need fixing.

“The reason the payout was so small is that the claims rate was only .29 percent. In other words, a relatively small number of individuals — about 22,000 — filed claims after Remington announced the recall on their rifles at the start of settlement negotiations a few years back.

“In the opinion, the court noted the dissatisfaction with the low turnout but indicated that doesn’t mean that the settlement reached was unfair.

“ ‘While the Court remains disappointed with the claims rate, the claims rate does not dictate whether the notice provided was the best notice practicable under the circumstances. The claims rate does not govern whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, or adequate,’ states the opinion.

“The court also noted that Remington did do enough to satisfy the court in its publicity of the recall effort, which will continue for an additional 18 months and possibly increase the number of claims.

“The question has to be asked to what extent there was a defect with the trigger mechanisms in these rifles? With 7.5 million in circulation, wouldn’t there be hundreds of thousands of people filing claims? Wouldn’t there be videos all over Youtube of rifles firing randomly?

“Paul Helinski, the owner and founder of GunsAmerica, addressed these questions in a recent article, entitled, ‘Remington Fights Back Against Fake News 60 Minutes Attack.

“ ‘In it the article, Paul argues that the claims of accidental discharges are either widely overblown or completely fabricated, concluding that “there is nothing wrong with the Remington 700, and there never was.’

“To that end, Remington has consistently denied any wrongdoing. And, finally, they can move on.

“Below, you’ll find information along with links pulled from the Remington website that pertains to the settlement.


“A proposed nationwide Settlement has been preliminarily approved in a class action lawsuit involving certain Remington firearms. The class action lawsuit claims that trigger mechanisms with a component part known as a trigger connector are defectively designed and can result in accidental discharges without the trigger being pulled. The lawsuit further claims that from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014, the X-Mark Pro® trigger mechanism assembly process created the potential for the application of an excess amount of bonding agent, which could cause Model 700 or Seven bolt-action rifles containing such trigger mechanisms to discharge without a trigger pull under certain limited conditions. The lawsuit contends that the value and utility of these firearms have been diminished as a result of these alleged defects. Defendants deny any wrongdoing.


“The Settlement provides benefits to:
Current owners of Remington Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725 firearms containing a Remington trigger mechanism that utilizes a trigger connector;
  1. Current owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles containing an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014 who did not participate in the voluntary X-Mark Pro product recall prior to April 14, 2015; and
  2. Current and former owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles who replaced their rifle’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.

“Settlement Class Members may be entitled to: (1) have their trigger mechanism retrofitted with a new X-Mark Pro or other connectorless trigger mechanism at no cost to the class members; (2) receive a voucher code for Remington products redeemable at Remington’s online store; and/or (3) be refunded the money they spent to replace their Model 700 or Seven’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.

“Submit a Claim Form. You can submit a claim form electronically.”
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ohio requires 1,900 water suppliers to map out any lead piping

Ohio’s environmental agency has received nearly 1,900 responses from water-supply systems that may – or may not –reveal lead-based piping and/or lead-infused components.

Included in this figure are systems impacting at least four properties owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, all but one of which are popular with the public.

The reports were demanded by an Ohio law enacted just under one year ago. The law stipulated  that – in the parlance of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency – “community and non-transient, non-community public water systems” must identify and also provide maps that either show service lines with lead or likely to have lead in some form. The deadline for filing those reports was March 9th.

“We are fully compliant with the reporting requirements,” said Victor Riverendo, the Natural Resources Department’s administrator for water and waste water treatment. “If there is anything is there, it might be in the buildings with copper lines.”

Lead is a toxic metal and is associated in young children at even low levels with such debilitations as lower IQs, delayed growth, poor hearing, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder. In high lead levels, the toxic substance can lead to mental retardation, convulsions, coma and even death, says the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio’s Health Department sternly warns that “there are no safe levels” of lead in the body.

Part of this activity is due to the 2015 finding of excessive lead in Flint, Michigan’s water supply that put at risk up to 12,000 children. This threat propelled other states like Ohio to investigate their own local water supply services for similar contamination.

“The maps will be used by the Ohio EPA to ensure that the proper lead and copper sampling is done in areas of lead service lines,” Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said.

However, a look at the individual systems found in the table of the 1,878 water supply systems – only 10 have yet to meet the law’s date requirement – shows a wide range of reporting details. That disparity enfolds the methods being used by the Natural Resources Department’s four identified water supply subjects, too: Deer Creek State Park – Lodge; Hocking Hills State Park; Mohican Lodge at Pleasant Hill Reservoir; and the now largely unused Zaleski Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in Zaleski State Forest.

The Zaleski CCC area isn’t used by the public, but employees do report there and conduct occasional training programs throughout the year, said Natural Resources spokesman Matt Eiselstein.

In the department’s written responses to the required data collection and submission, all four instances say that lead pipes do not exist, though in all probability there is in each case the use of copper piping and fittings that are joined by lead solder, which was prohibited beginning in 1978. This would include the drinking fountains at Hocking Hills State Park’s Old Man’s Cave area and campground.

“There are currently no plans to replace the piping except through routine repair or maintenance,” Eiselstein said as well. “The ODNR is following the EPA established monitoring schedules at each property while working to improve our water systems through our capital improvement projects.”

Also, some of the document’s extensively named properties around the state do little more than provide respective blueprint-type maps that show where water supply lines are located. Meanwhile, other water systems give a detailed and written account as to the expanse of their piping along with when the lines were installed, including lines that may be 75 to 90 years old.

“You are correct that there is quite a variety on the reporting,” said Griesmer. “We provided guidelines in January but we knew that there would be variable (responses) and that’s why we also provided contact names.”

Asked if the Ohio EPA believes a Flint, Michigan-style lead-pipe crisis is lurking somewhere in the state, Griesmer says “the short answer is ‘no.’”

This likelihood of unearthing a potentially health-diminishing scenario is decreasing as well, Griesmer says, due in part to an aggressive testing program.

“Some water supply systems are tested every six months; others are tested annually and some others are tested every three years,” Griesmer said. “And we’ve seen fewer lead-associated violations over the past three years.”
Ohio EPA is making all the maps it has received available online at: Public water systems that are required to comply with this new requirement are listed alphabetically, and maps received by Ohio EPA can be accessed by clicking the appropriate link. Respective contact names and telephone numbers are provided for each of the listings.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Nearly 500 ships entering Great Lakes in 2016 checked for invasive acquatic species

Efforts to thwart any more aquatic invasive species entering the Great Lakes were bolstered last year when 100-percent of all vessels entering the system were examined.

The U.S. Coast Guard released on March 7th the Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group’s 2016 activities report

The Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group is a bi-national collection of representatives from the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Transport Canada - Marine Safety & Security, and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

 In the report the Coast Guard noted that 466 so-named ship “transits” were conducted, resulting in the assessment of 8,488 ballast tanks. This figure included physically sampling 8,194 tanks and “administratively reviewing the remainder.

By way of explanation, an administrative review means that the tank for some reason could not have its contents sampled or the tank was not being used for ballast at the time of the inspection. In that case, the ship’s records are examined and the ship’s officers are interviewed.

Vessels that do not exchange their ballast water or otherwise flush their ballast tanks are required to either retain that ballast water – and any residual material – on board; treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound and lawfully determined manner,; or else return to the ocean in order to flush the tanks and exchange the contents with ocean/salt water, the Coast Guard says.

And any vessel unable to see that its ballast water/residuals is exchanged and thus are required to retain them onboard must receive a verification exam during their outbound transit prior to exiting the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Since 2006, ballast water management requirements in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway system have been the most stringent in the world, says a Coast Guard spokesman.

“The working group’s verification efforts indicated that there were no non-compliant ballast water discharges into the Great Lakes or Seaway system,” said Coast Guard Commander Christopher Tantillo, with the service’s Ninth District Headquarters in Cleveland. “The working group is actively engaged in providing an energetic response to calls for tougher ballast water regulations for ocean-going vessels transiting the Seaway and Great Lakes system.”
This is the seventh consecutive year that BWWG agencies ensured the examination of 100 percent of ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the group anticipates continued high ship compliance rates for the 2017 navigation season, Tantillo says also.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 2, 2017

New CCW permits up in Ohio for 2016 but so are revocations, denials, suspensions

Ohioans went gunning for new concealed carry permits at a rapid-fire pace during 2016.

Statistics provided by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine shows that last year the state’s 88 county sheriffs issued 117,953 new concealed carry permits, renewed 40,986 permits and granted 43 temporary permits for the presentation of a total of 158,982 licenses to carry a weapon concealed.

By Ohio law the state attorney general must file an annual report to the governor and state legislative officials as to the results of the county sheriffs’ CCW-issuing activities.

The issuance of new CCW permits reached a lofty 96,972 in 2013. That number declined to 58,066 in 2014 but regained lost ground in 2015 when the number jumped to 71,589, and then catapulted to the 117,953 figure last year.

Though the issuance of new CCW permits easily outpaced that of 2015, not so the number of renewals, which are required every five years. In fact, renewals have been on a steady decline. In 2015 the number of CCW permit renewals had ascended to 52,146 but dropped to 44,551 in 2014 and drooped to the 40,986 figure last year.

Also, the numbers of CCW permit revocations and denials are both on the uptick as are suspensions.

Revocations have steadily increased since 2012 when the figure was 203. That number rose to 286 in 2013; 373 in 2014; 530 in 2015; and 697 last year. The reasons for revocations include the permit holder moving out of state, dying, no longer desiring to be a licensee, convicted of a disqualifying crime, adjudicated as becoming subject to the law’s restrictions on the grounds of mental health issues, drug- or alcohol dependency.

For CCW application denials, DeWine’s office notes that here too the numbers have increased. In 2014 the number of CCW application rejections was 882 – after dropping from the 1,142 in 2013. However, in 2015 the number of CCW permit rejections climbed to 1,117, and surged further to 1,634 last year.

Looking at CCW suspensions, the category has demonstrated a general rise. Under Ohio law, sheriffs must suspend a CCW permit upon being notified that a licensee has been charged of certain specified crimes, or if the licensee is the subject of a court-ordered protection order. Should the licensee be acquitted or the charges dropped, the CCW permit is returned.

In 2012, the state’s 88 county sheriffs suspended 788 CCW permits. That number rose to 1,154 in 2013 and climbed to 1,412 in 2015 but tripped to 1,319 in 2015, only to step up again, this time to 1,669 in 2016.

The Top Five counties for new CCW permits issued in 2016 were: Franklin – 7,569; Montgomery – 6,407; Lake – 6,045; Clermont – 4,890; and Butler – 4,467. In all, 39 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw the issuance of 1,000 or more new CCW permits.

The Bottom Five counties for new CCW permits were: Monroe – 275; Morgan (also 275); Coshocton – 235; Noble – 208; and Meigs – 155.

For renewals in 2016, the Top Five counties were: Franklin – 2,580; Clermont – 2,160; Lake – 1,754; Montgomery – 1,738; and Butler 1,579. In all, 11 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw the issuance of 1,000 or more renewal CCW permits. Only one – Lawrence County – saw no CCW renewals issued in 2016.

As for CCW denials in 2016, the Top Five counties were: Lucas – 148; Lake – 106; Montgomery – 99; Hamilton – 94; and Franklin – 76.

For CCW revocations in 2016; the Top Five counties were: Lake – 274 (the high number came when it was discovered that an instructor was not state certified and all of his students became ineligible to keep their permits); Knox – 70; Morrow – 48; Franklin – 40; and Clermont – 25.

In terms of suspensions for 201, the Top Five counties were: Wood – 167; Hamilton – 131; Lake – 128; Franklin – 119; and Montgomery – 76.

Also, Ohio has reciprocity with 35 states. Caveats exist for Minnesota and Virginia. The former recently removed Ohio from list while Virginia has restrictions of its own.
For further information, visit the Ohio Attorney General’s web site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn