MIDDLEPORT — Issues regarding possible employment of a grants writer/economic development employee for the village, along with the Big Bend Youth Football League’s future use of the Middleport field, were top issues discussed at this week’s Middleport Village Council meeting.
Following an application from Fred Hoffman for a grants writing and economic development position in the village late last fall, council has had numerous discussions about whether the village needs such a position and the additional expense it incurs.
Currently, grants are being successfully written by employees as they apply to their respective fields of responsibility for the village.
Council has, over the past two months, considered the pros and cons of the issue as to whether a position, such as Hoffman has applied for, is of sufficient benefit to the village to warrant the additional cost of another village employee.
Susan Baker, village financial officer, at a meeting earlier this month suggested that if such a position is created, then to reduce the cost, council might consider using an independent contractor to perform the services of grant administration and economic development. Council, at its Feb. 24 meeting, was in agreement for Baker to write up a possible public notice for use in soliciting bids for such a contract position and present it to Council
It was presented at Monday night’s meeting and received an immediate response from Councilman Roger Manley, who objected to the job description “independent contractor” and asked it be changed to “grants writer/economic development” so that the person hired would be a regular employee of the village.
After some discussion, by a 4-2 vote, council voted to hire a village grants writer/economic development person for 20 hours per month. Voting in favor of the motion were Manley, Penny Burge, Sharon Older and Doug Dixon. Voting against it were Richard Vaughan, who said he could go along with the contract position but not another village employee, and Emerson Heighton.
The clerk, on the basis of the vote, said she would prepare the required ordinance for hiring an employee for a new position and present it to the council for a reading at the March 24 meeting.
Sarah Pullins, on behalf of the Big Bend Youth Football League, met with council again to discuss use of the football field, which is a part of the old Middleport school property currently under consideration for transfer to the Meigs County Council on Aging. Tentative plans by the agency, if the property is obtained, is for development of an all-age inclusive community center.
She again expressed concern for the 400 or so children who use the football field, and the parents who support and maintain the field and facility once the transfer has been made. The league has a lease on the property until 2016
She asked council to “give the football field to the kids,” or if not to allow the league to purchase it for up to $10,000. She said that the senior citizens have other uses planned for the field and that the league wants exclusive use. It was generally agreed by Mayor Michael Gerlach and council members that having the field used as it is now is “great for the town,”
It was suggested that the league lawyer confer with council attorneys handling the potential transfer about procedures and specifications. Gerlach was emphatic in responding to Pullins when he said, “We want the football field to be available for use when you need it.”
In other business, Manley proposed that the old village hall property in downtown Middleport be put up for sale. Council voted to proceed with seeking a buyer. He also suggested that downtown might look better if the Community Association put something in the windows. In response, one of the members attending the meeting said they had tried that once and building owners were not anxious to give access.
The status of a contract with Salisbury Township for fire protection from the Middleport Fire Department was discussed and it was noted that no resolution has been made on the amount to be paid to the village. Chief Jeff Darst will be asked to come to the next council meeting to further discuss the matter.
A resident meeting with council to discuss a water billing problem and to request a possible refund caused by mailing bills to the wrong address was referred to the water department for some resolution.