Council discusses fire protection concerns

By Michael Hart - Special to the Sentinel

MIDDLEPORT — On Monday, Middleport Council debated their next steps regarding Salisbury fire protection, along with other business.

After it was unable to reach an informal solution with Salisbury Township, Middleport Council moved to set up a meeting between the municipalities’ legal representatives regarding fire services.

In previous years, Middleport and Pomeroy Fire Departments have provided fire service to Salisbury Township with limited compensation, and Middleport has recently indicated a desire for the township to assume a greater share of the costs, according to council discussion.

Middleport Fire Chief Jeff Darst said the majority of his department’s 40 runs in 2017 have been to Salisbury Township, and the lack of a formal contract or payment has negatively impacted his budget.

Council members and the chief indicated their belief trustees were “dragging their feet” on a resolution.

Councilperson Doug Dixon described the village’s position as difficult, saying “enough is enough, but you can’t not protect people’s homes.”

The township passed a fire protection levy last year, but it was undetermined during council when those funds become available.

In other business, bills were paid in the amount of $6,224.58.

The council waived three readings before adopting Ordinance 109-17, which abolished a section of village law (1315.01) granting Washington County’s building inspector full powers and privileges in Middleport. The provenance of the 1989 section remained unknown.

On the recommendation of Fiscal Officer Sue Baker, council renewed the village’s property and liability insurance. They also voted to make Baker each member’s representative at an upcoming public records training session — Baker said all council members are required to attend one training during their term, but the requirement allows for a proxy to be named, and Baker attends qualifying sessions regularly.

Mayor Sandy Iannarelli announced the large scale downtown painting project would continue this weekend, and hoped to conclude by Memorial Day. She said the painting and upcoming “Beautification Week” reflected a larger effort by Middleport government to restore the village aesthetically.

She circulated for council signatures a letter welcoming the potential new Home National Bank, demonstrating “we are behind them and support them.”

Lastly, the mayor publicized the “Art of Gardening” event on Saturday, Apr. 22, an outdoor family-friendly festival that will involve numerous local businesses.

Village Administrator Joe Woodall said having held second public meeting for the Main Street Sewer separation project, the announced Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application would now proceed. He also noted basketball poles and backboards were erected in the park, as requested by a citizen in last week’s meeting.

Woodall also issued a reminder for Meigs County Cleanup Day, on May 20 and provided a contact number for county residents with questions, 740-992-4629

Resolution 229-17 was adopted to authorize the administrator to apply for a Nature Works grant, which would upgrade amenities at Leading Creek Watershed.

An organizer involved in the National Day of Prayer, Brenda Barnhart, spoke to the council, saying “this will be the 26th annual Meigs event — this year we have teamed up with Racine to turn the walking path into a ‘prayer path,’ as in Pomeroy.”

In addition to a proclamation by council supporting May 4 as a day of prayer in the village, she obtained permission to add a portion of Middleport’s walking path to the “prayer paths,” laying out small signs that identify things or people citizens might consider in need of prayer.

Barnhart also spoke on behalf of the philanthropic organization Lions Club, and asked if council would allow the group to take the lead on adding a shelter to the splash park area.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of Middleport Village Council is Apr. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Middleport Municipal Building.

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.