Middleport council discusses projects

MIDDLEPORT — Middleport Village Council met in regular session on last week at village hall to discuss and approve projects.

Present during the meeting were Mayor Fred Hoffman, councilmembers Shawn Arnott, Brian Conde, Larry Byer, Matt Lyons, and Ben Reed. Also present were Fiscal Officer Susan Baker, Assistant Fiscal Officer Margie Baker-Keilitz, Building Inspector Mike Hendrickson, Supervisor Joe Powell, Chief Water Operator Andy Blank, Police Chief Mony Wood and Village Attorney Richard Hedges.

Hoffman read Susan Page’s resignation from council in which she stated that various circumstances and family issues made it too difficult for her to put the time and effort in it that she felt she should. Both Hoffman and council felt she had done a good job and appreciated her service. Council voted to accept her resignation.

Minutes of the May 23 meeting and minutes of the utility committee meeting on June 1 were approved, along with approval on the payment of current bills.

Jim Hudson appeared before council to ask if council had made any decision on his water bill. Hoffman said the utility committee had discussed his bill and asked Larry Byer, Chairman, to respond to Hudson. Byer said due to the time period that far back and various circumstances that were in the village rules on water service, that the committee felt that no payment would be made to Hudson as he had requested since this was not in line with village policy on water bills. Hudson thanked council for their investigation and said this would open up other resources or actions, which he may take.

Mary Wise said the fireworks donations had been very good and that the goal would be achieved. She said the fireworks committee would present a final report to council at the next meeting.

Hoffman distributed to council a fact sheet regarding the new Middleport Community Reinvestment Area, outlining procedures to apply and said applicants may apply beginning June 15 in Mike Hendrickson’s office.

Hoffman said June 20 is a new federal holiday called Juneteenth and is not listed on the village list of holidays. He recommended that it be included in our holiday list and council approved this.

Hoffman passed along a note from Tim Smith stating Chris Smith had donated the work in doing all the new sidewalk in the uptown park and requested that he be sent a ‘thank you’ note. Hoffman said he did this.

Hoffman said in early May, EPA had rejected a change order to pave Fairlane Drive, two alleys, and Diamond street. Hoffman said these areas had been totally demolished by the water project. He said the construction company sent before and after pictures to EPA and that Hoffman personally contacted Sarah Wallace of EPA and asked for them to reconsider this decision. Hoffman said it was reconsidered and on June 6 approval was given to use project contingency funds for this paving.

Hoffman said he had submitted a request to Rep. Jay Edwards asking that $40,000 be put in the State Capital Budget for Middleport parks. He said Edwards had done this and the mayor and council expressed their appreciation to Edwards for this. Hoffman said this is usually done through a contract with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and should be coming to us in the near future.

Hoffman said the Meigs County Commissioners had offered the village $40,000 for the old village hall property on Race St. and North Third Avenue and recommended accepting the offer because the village had no use for the property but the DJFS could use it and planned to improve the area. Council agreed and unanimously passed Ord. 144-22 by emergency authorizing the sale.

Hoffman said he would like to have authorization to advertise for bids the Middleport-Pomeroy-Syracuse OPWC project, which was approved. He said people have been waiting for this to happen for quite a while and would really be an improvement in the uptown area. The paving will include Pomeroy Main Street from Middleport corporation to Save-A-Lot, and in Middleport: North Second Avenue, North Third Avenue, Mill Street, and South Third Avenue. The Middleport portion of the project is $338,626 with a grant of $250,503 and a match of $88,043 to be taken from the three funds as authorized and done before. Pomeroy portion is $70,444 with a match of $18,316 and the Syracuse project is being bid separately since it has culverts and ditching in it. Syracuse’s project cost is $130,000 with a match of $33,800. If the bids are within the amounts available, the project should be done approximately at the end of August and must be completed by Sept. 30. After this is completed, all parking lines, crosswalks and curbs will be painted by the village and Hoffman suggested to council that they consider the purchase of some type of unique trash containers for the area uptown.

Hoffman asked if the committees had any recommendations on police wages. Arnott said he met with a few people including Chief Wood and would like to make a recommendation for raises since inflation has really shot upward and they felt raises were needed for the police and jail employees. His recommendation was a 50 cent per hour increase for all police officers, a 25 cent hourly increase for all corrections officers and dispatchers, and a $1500 yearly salary increase for Asst. Jail Administrator Dawn Irwin. After a short discussion, council unanimously agreed to Arnott’s recommendation.

Baker discussed two fire levies which will be up for renewal this fall. Baker said she discussed them with Fire Chief Jeff Darst and they would like to put the three-mill fire levy on the ballot as a renewal and the one-mill on the ballot as a replacement. The replacement would generate a little more money which will be needed since a new fire truck is on order, according to Baker. Council unanimously passed both resolutions as recommended by Baker and Chief Darst.

Council discussed a letter from Baker asking to retire on June 30 and then be hired back to assist Baker-Keilitz. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed by council and Baker that she would continue to work as a full-time employee but could take off time which she had accrued and Baker-Keilitz would fill in as part-time. Baker said this way she could use up some of her time and the village would not owe her as much when she does retire. Council and Baker agreed to this and that it can be discussed again at a later time.

Hendrickson said Betsy Kearns had requested a variance on the property on Hartinger where she is interested in putting a dog grooming facility. He said this would have to go through the Zoning Board of Appeals and presently, there needed to be an appointment made to that group since there was a vacancy. He recommended Don Stivers be appointed to that position, which was then approved by council. Hendrickson said he would set up a meeting to consider the variance request and felt Kearns had made some good points in asking for approval of this.

Wood said they were still very short of officers and requested he be permitted to hire Shannon Smith again part-time since all of the problems had been cleared up related to the Task Force. No decision was made by council.

Wood also said he would be having shoulder surgery on June 15 and would probably be off for a couple weeks and then on light duty for a while but has everything covered while he is gone and will still be in daily contact.

Blank said the water project was in the clean-up stages and about completed and the he and Powell were making sure everything was completed properly.

Powell briefly discussed the sewer problem off Hamilton Street. Hoffman said he had given council information on this. Powell said there were six services, three active, on a 14 inch clay tile which had evidently collapsed and was 14 feet deep and the village could not handle the repair which included about 310 feet of new sewer line and about 210 feet of laterals and a manhole to replace the old tile sewer in order that the three active customers on the line could have sewer service again. Council approve the hiring of Chris Hutton Excavating to do the work.

Powell then requested an executive session from council to discuss personnel. After returning into regular session, no action was taken on discussion at the executive session.

Hoffman said he had several comments from individuals concerning more active use of the village’s website. Conde volunteered to be the administrator and try to make it more active. Council agreed that Conde could be the administrator.

Conde said he would discuss the handicapped park project at the next meeting. He also said there were a lot of scooters being operated recklessly on streets and sidewalks and felt this should be policed and corrected.

Council adjourned with the next regular meeting set for 7 p.m. on June 27.

Information submitted by Mayor Fred Hoffman.