MIDDLEPORT — The Middleport Village Council met in regular session on Monday at Village Hall with Mayor Fred Hoffman presiding with discussions on American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funds and other business.
Present were council members Matt Lyons, Shawn Arnott, Ben Reed, Brian Conde, Susan Page, and Larry Byer. Also present were Fiscal Officer Susan Baker, Police Chief Mony Wood, Village Administrator Joe Woodall, Building Inspector Mike Hendrickson, Supervisor Joe Powell, Water Operator Andy Blank, and Village Attorney Richard Hedges. In addition, John Matson of The Blakeslee Center, Paul Reed and Bill Lambert were present.
Hoffman said he would once again like to discuss the use of ARP Act funds on several projects which are needed in the community. He requested approval for the fire department to purchase the following equipment, which had been discussed at previous meetings: Blitzfire nozzle, 15 thermal imaging devices, PPV fan, four-inch hose, laptop computer, and additional surveillance cameras at the fire department for a total cost of approximately $33,000. He stated that the generator had been paid for by the fire department with their own funds. The Mayor stated that most equipment for the fire department was paid for by grants or money earned from fish and chicken sales and felt this was a good way to get additional needed equipment. After a short discussion in which there were no objections, the project was approved.
Hoffman also recommended that $35,000 in ARP Act funds be set aside for recreation to be used upon recommendations made by the recreation committee. Hoffman said because the village allocated no funding for recreation other than occasional donations, this would be an opportunity to invest some funds in recreation. After a short discussion, it was agreed to set aside these ARPA funds for recreation projects.
Hoffman also suggested the council consider setting aside $16,000 of ARP funds for extra pay for employees in December, such as $500 for full time and $250 for part-time. There was some disagreement as to whether this project would actually be eligible for use of ARP funds. After a lengthy discussion, Hoffman suggested this could be considered for the next couple months and maybe additional clarification on use of funds might be forthcoming.
Hoffman said he would like to discuss the taser project again, which he brought up at the previous meeting. Hoffman said he thought it was very important that the police officers be properly equipped and trained in the operation of tasers, especially because the village will be applying for approximately $38,000 in body cameras and related equipment from OCJS in the near future. The tasers would be tied in with the body cameras if the grant application is approved. He suggested making the first payment of $4,495 from this year’s ARP funds and paying the balance of $17,780 from next year’s funds in September 2022. Council members were receptive to the taser project, and after a lengthy discussion, the project was approved with the total of $22,224.91 to be paid in full from this year’s ARP funds. Chief Wood thanked council members for this purchase and felt they would be a good addition for the police department.
Matson presented a drawing of the small area of Laurel Street that leads to The Blakeslee Center parking lot. Matson requested this section of the street be re-named Blakeslee Drive. He felt this would make the entrance more noticeable and easier to locate. Mayor Hoffman and all council members agreed this would be a good idea and approved the change. Hoffman and council members commended Matson for all they had done to the old Middleport High School and thanked those involved for making the building so attractive and “such an asset to the village.”
A brief discussion was held on the meals for the jail which are being provided by The Blakeslee Center. Chief Wood said all meals were being provided by The Blakeslee Center at $5 per meal and, so far, everything seemed to be working out well. This is being done on a trial basis and a formal contract is expected to be presented at the next council meeting.
Reed commended the village workers for their work throughout the town and also commended Matt and Trudy Lyons for their work in the uptown area business district. Reed said the walking path was always kept in good condition and felt that there had been improvements made in the community. Hoffman thanked Reed for his comments and said this was “all due to the dedicated group of workers and supervisors which we have, many of whom were at the meeting.”
Hoffman stated that Hedges was now acting as prosecutor in the Magistrate Court and recommended that his pay be increased $100 per month to compensate for these additional duties. Conde inquired if the prosecutor was a necessary part of the court and if it was required by the state. Hedges said that it was required by the state even though Middleport has not had one. After a short discussion, the $100 increase was approved by council.
Ordinance 141-21 was given its second reading. This ordinance establishes new fees for the impound lot.
Ordinance 142-21 was given its first reading. This ordinance amends fees for zoning permits. Hendrickson said the costs of issuing a zoning permit was far greater than the amount now charged by the village.
Woodall said he was hopeful that the water project would start soon but there may be some delay in starting, according to the contractor. Woodall said he would continue to work on this. He also said the contractor would be doing the uptown work as soon as possible along with the installation of new vaults at the wells, which is a safety issue with the chlorine feeding and needs to be corrected as soon as possible.
Hendrickson said the county commissioners had not yet approved the contractor bid on the demolition project but this should happen very soon and this project should be in progress soon after. He stated Hutton Excavating was the lowest bidder at about $10,000 below estimate.
Conde said he, Joe Powell, and Andy Blank had looked at the tree at the park, which was in question. He suggested that Ann Bonner be contacted to take a look at it. Hoffman said he would do this.
Conde also said he had talked to the family who raised the funds for the handicapped equipment at the park. Conde said the project was still moving along and was more complicated than was thought at first. Conde said the health department was going to pave the road going into the park and that this could be used for handicap access but still something would be needed to go to the area where the handicapped equipment is to be installed. Hoffman suggested when the road is paved, that the village pay to have a strip paved going to that area and also other paving to lead to the additional pieces of new handicapped equipment.
Hoffman said the next council meeting is on Oct. 11, which is the Columbus Day holiday and that Baker is also going to be on vacation that week. Hoffman suggested the meeting on that date be canceled and if anything was needed during that time, a special meeting could be called. Council agreed to cancel the Oct. 11 meeting.
Council then went into executive session to discuss the appointment of an employee. After returning into regular session, a motion was made to hire Margie Baker as a part-time fiscal officer effective January 1, 2022. She would work up to 21 hours per week at a pay rate of $14 per hour. The motion was unanimously approved.
Council adjourned with the next regular meeting being scheduled for Oct. 25 at 7 p.m..
Information submitted by Middleport Mayor Fred Hoffman.