UP AND DOWN: There’s nothing like a head-to-head debate between political opponents to bring out the best and worst in candidates. This year’s gubernatorial election still has six candidates, but thus far only the Democrats are debating. On Wednesday in Toledo, four Democrats, Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich, Bill O’Neill and Joe Schiavoni, exchanged jabs. It was the fourth debate for the Dems. Last October, the state Republican Party also proposed hosting four debates, but none have occurred between the two GOP candidates: Mike DeWine and Mary Taylor. Taylor wants to debate, but DeWine has so far shown no interest, taking a position like Gov. John Kasich did in 2014 when he refused to debate his challenger, Democratic nominee Ed FitzGerald, before the general election. Political forums can help voters decide between candidates. For voters’ sake, we hope DeWine and Taylor mix it up at least one time between now and May 8.

UP: This winter has been an especially bad one for residential fires in Hancock and surrounding counties. That’s more of a reason to do what many fire departments, the Red Cross and other agencies advise us to do when winter turns to spring: Test your smoke alarms. The batteries need to be changed at least once a year. It’s a simple task. Do it now. It could save you later.

UP: Kudos to all the residents who gave to the United Way of Fostoria’s annual campaign this year. Officials recently announced the campaign reached 103 percent of the $195,000 goal, hitting $201,236. The United Way of Fostoria last surpassed the $200,000 pledge mark in 2011, reaching $202,032 that year.

UP: Reducing the number of painkiller prescriptions dispensed to patients won’t stop Ohio’s addiction epidemic, but it should help slow it. Data from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy shows 568 million painkiller pills were dispensed to patients last year, down nearly 30 percent from a high of 793 million in 2012. Other data showed a continuing decrease in the number of patients going from doctor to doctor in search of drugs, thanks to the pharmacy board’s computerized reporting system, with an 88 percent drop since 2012. An expanded use of that system has increased the number of checks on patients from about 66,000 a day in 2015 to almost 445,000 a day at the end of last year. All the Rx numbers are moving in the right direction, and should mean fewer patients will become addicted to opioids.

UP: The Hancock Hotel has just opened and two major events have already been held there: United Way’s Annual Gaslight Society Event and the Salute to Red Cross Gala. The Gaslight Society Event, for donors of $750 or more annually, had its highest attendance in the event’s history. That a good start for the hotel — and the community.

UP: The number of readers in the area is likely to jump substantially this month, due to a creative effort by Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn Co. For the second year, all Shirley’s locations, including Findlay, are celebrating National Reading Month by rewarding readers with popcorn. By picking up a reading log at Shirley’s and tracking their literary pursuits, readers can qualify for a free small bag of popcorn for every six reading hours logged. Last year, the program drew 3,928 total participants from all six Shirley’s locations combined, including more than 900 from Findlay. In all, readers logged 27,496 total hours of reading. So get reading. The popcorn incentive ends April 7, the last day to redeem reading logs.