Middleport talks water department reorganization, term limits

By Michael Hart - Special to the Sentinel

MIDDLEPORT — Mayor Sandy Ianarrelli asked “everyone that can possibly be there” to attend a Feb. 20 town hall event in Pomeroy.

The 6 p.m. meeting will see multiple Ohio Representatives, including 94th Districr Representative Jay Edwards, and is being held to discuss the budget coming from the state level.

“It affects each and every one of us,” said the mayor.

The town hall meeting is being hosted by the Meigs County Commissioners, at the Farmers Bank community room, in an effort to bring local and state officials together to discuss the proposed state budget and the impact it could have on this portion of the state.

Ianarrelli’s comments were made during Monday’s regularly scheduled Middleport Council meeting.

In regular business, bills were paid in the amount of $9,244.83, with more than $5,000 going to purchase MSA self-contained breathing apparatuses, which are the backpack tanks carried by firefighters. The new units were said to be modern equipment with rechargeable batteries.

Village Administrator Joe Woodall was granted several requests, including the public auction of “various pieces of equipment, and vehicles, whose useful life has ended,” according to Woodall.

More notably, council approved a water department reorganization that would abolish the field supervisor and replace it with crew leader, while adding the role of project coordinator.

Woodall said the coordinator would assist on multiple projects, including an asset management plan, which was already underway but would be required by Ohio Senate Bill 333.

In a related matter, Councilperson Doug Dixon asked whether an organizational chart — with pay scales, job descriptions, vacant and filled positions — existed for village employees.

A discussion determined most of the data existed but not in a central location.

For example, Assistant Police Chief and Jail Administrator Monty Wood said a portion of that material existed in the various departments’ policies and procedures handbooks, and had current personnel lists to compare to past years.

Woodall and Wood both said they could tabulate the information and have it available for the next meeting.

Middleport Village is not operating at what the village considers fully staffed, due to lack of budget. Any future hiring could require a distinction between an “open” position, which is a vacant spot already created by the council, or a “new” position which requires different hiring procedures including a council vote to create the position.

Councilperson Shawn Rice began another discussion on term limits, following up on a previous council meeting. He voiced his support for term limits at every level of government, saying “It should not be a career.”

Solicitor Rick Hedges was asked to look at language for implementing the measure, including whether the limits would apply to individuals who served in the past, and how it would affect currently serving council members.

Hedges commented that because Middleport was a home-rule village, there would be few little legal barriers to the proposal.

Mayor Ianarrelli also voiced concern regarding rumors of extrajudicial cat killings in Middleport. She said multiple cats living downtown, both feral and pet, have been poisoned, or trapped and disappeared. She said the alleged incidents had taken place following a council discussion to reduce animal feces on the village’s walking path and worried about a connection.

Councilperson Dixon, who initially brought the issue of excessive dog waste on the walking path, proposed solutions to dog owners neglecting to scoop their pet’s droppings. He asked the council to consider installing bag dispensaries along the path, and for the police department to increase enforcement of dog walkers not cleaning their pet’s waste.

Fiscal Officer Sue Baker said she could bring installation estimates to the next meeting.

Building Inspector Mike Hendrickson submitted a comprehensive written report, but noted to the council that the zoning committee would meet Mar. 7 at 6 p.m. to elect officers.

He also described the remaining fire-gutted building, 311 N. Second Ave., as a danger that has drawn significant public attention. He said the owner has failed to act, so a certified letter of violation has been sent.

“We are not ignoring the problem, we are taking care of it, it just takes time,” said Hendrickson.

By Michael Hart

Special to the Sentinel

Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.

Michael Hart is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.