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Smith to remain Spencerville Village solicitor PDF Print E-mail
Monday, December 16, 2013 9:00 PM

BY STEPHANIE GROVES

Staff Writer

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SPENCERVILLE —Al Smith will remain Spencerville’s village solicitor after an ordinance to hire the firm Cory, Meredith, Witter & Smith failed to pass on emergency measure Monday evening.

Mayor P.J. Johnson said the emergency ordinance needed to be enacted by Jan. 1.

“With no action taken, Al Smith is still the village’s attorney,” Johnson stated.

Council did suspend the rules and pass on first reading a resolution authorizing an agreement for services with NC Heidlebaugh Farms, the company that performs sludge removal for the village.

Village Administrator Sean Chapman said he received notice the village’s sludge removal contractor, Norm Heidlebaugh, has requested an increase in removal fees to 2 cents per gallon of sludge removed, which is an increase from 1.5 cents per gallon. Based on an annual average of close to 500,000 gallons of sludge removed, the increase results in an additional $2,500 per year for sludge removal.

“We have looked at alternatives in the past and have found that we are paying much less than the other alternatives,” Chapman stated.

In addition, the rules were suspended for three new ordinances, which passed on their first reading and included reducing appropriations in FEMA, swimming pool and enterprise funds and increasing appropriations in water fund; temporary appropriations for 2014; and the repeal of Ordinance 08-44.

“Ordinance 08-44 came into effect in 2008 and it made changes to healthcare coverage with small groups — the mayor and treasurer — and at this time, due to the Affordable Care Act, the ordinance is not needed,” Johnson stated.

The village received notification that the Dollar General has been granted their alcohol permit.

“A prior hearing was rescheduled earlier in the year,” Johnson said. “Chief Cook attended this last meeting and took the signed letter, which was accepted into evidence. Is there an option to appeal?”

“Unless there are violations or if we see a problem like underage trying to buy alcohol,” Cook said. “We can cite the individual and cashier.”

Cook said that at this point, that’s about all that could happen and then we can appeal.

Cook also asked council if they had considered his unused vacation time. Cook said ith both full-time officers absent, he was the only full-time officer manning the department. He has 92 hours of vacation time and 16 hours of personal time coming and said he should not have to forfeit the time. He asked council to consider carrying over the time to next year when the village is more stable.

“This was brought up last meeting,” Johnson said. “We need an ordinance to change anything. Does council have any comment?”

After an extensive conversation, council members were in agreement that Cook should get his time carried over through next year or be compensated for his vacation time. Johnson was concerned about giving any employee special treatment and thought council should have a special meeting to move forward with rectifying the situation.

“Many things I’ve had with court, I don’t give special treatment,” Johnson said. “I like to be consistent.”

Village Clerk/Treasurer Dawn Bailey said part of Cook’s vacation time could be authorized and added back on next year.

Council member John Miller said Cook should not be penalized because of the lack of manpower.

“What if somebody off the streets crew came in with the same request?” Miller asked.

Council member Nancy Taylor asked if they could pass a special emergency ordinance.

“Yes, that will take care of it,” Johnson said. “It sets a precedent if we make an exception. It’s a tough call.”

Smith offered his solution by suggesting the ordinance can be an exception — an isolated incident.

“Just have an attorney to write the ordinance for the 68 hours of vacation next year,” Smith said.

In the Police Report, Cook reminded village residents to be sure to clean snow off their walkways for the safety of pedestrians.

“Elderly that can’t perform snow removal can contact local churches for help,” Cook recommended.

He also addressed the use of Four Wheeler ATV’s and snowmobiles in the village.

“No four wheelers on roadways,” Cook said. “We also don’t want people riding snowmobiles through yards because you never know what can be hidden under the snow.”

Cook said the first time they will get a friendly warning and after that, they will be cited.

In the Village Administrator’s Report, Chapman reported the village has suffered three water main breaks recently. On Dec. 2, crews were on the scene to repair a main water line break on East First Street, just east of Pearl Street.

“The leak was two separate holes with an old clamp between the holes; therefore, we had to cut out approximately 70 inches of the old 6-inch water line and replace it with PVC water line,” Chapman explained. “The new line was secured into place with two 6 x 8-inch clamps.”

On Dec. 5, in the alley behind 116 N. College St., the leak was a large hole in the bottom of the pipe which required a 6 x 8-inch clamp to repair it.

“There was also a 2-inch steel natural gas line with a 5/8-inch plastic service tap in the excavation,” Chapman detailed. “Crew members were on-site from around 8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.”

In addition, crews repaired a main water line break on East First Street between College and Elizabeth streets on Dec. 11.

“The leak was a small hole in the pipe and required a 6 x 8-inch clamp and as crew members were probing for the line, they poked through the water line, which required an additional 6” x 8” clamp,” Chapman stated. “The crew was on-site from around 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.”

Chapman said he continues to work on securing a new construction administrator (CA) for the water treatment plant project. Chapman spoke with Peterman Associates, Inc. from Findlay, who showed an interest in the project and an additional firm, who are both more than qualified to perform the services.

Chapman recommended the village hire Peterman Associates as their new CA and expressed his interest in getting them on board as soon as possible to keep the project moving forward.

“I am hoping that council will be able to take action at the first meeting in January to pass legislation hiring the new firm,” Chapman stated.

He also received a request from the Ohio Rural Water Association to submit letters to US Senators regarding HR (House of Representatives) 3588, the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013, which states, effective December 4, all water fittings are to be lead free. Recently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) added fire hydrants to the list of those components that need to meet the lead-free requirement.

“Obviously, this is a major concern for all water systems in the country as we are two months away from having to meet the lead-free requirement for all other components,” Chapman stated. “Now, we could potentially have to do the same for fire hydrants.”

Chapman said to replace all of the village’s fire hydrants and become compliant with the proposed changes, it would literally cost the village close to $300,000. He said the argument by water professionals is that fire hydrants are not used to provide drinking water, they are strictly for fire protection and flushing. Rarely does a community system need to utilize a hydrant to temporarily provide drinking water to customers.

“I am hopeful that other water systems write to express their concern and that H.R. 3588 is approved and enacted by the Senate,” Chapman said firmly. “Letters to each of the US Senators from Ohio were sent out on Dec. 4, asking for their support with this issue.”

Recently Chapman spoke with Dave Faler of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) regarding the trail construction through Spencerville, which has been conditionally approved for 2014.

“Dave and his crews are planning to provide much of the labor and equipment for this project,” Chapman said. “We will not know for sure if we are funded until the Controlling Board approves the project at their January 2014 meeting.”

Once approval has been received, Chapman said the village will need to start working with American Electric Power (AEP) since there are poles and guy wires on the canal bank which will interfere with the construction.

“The project also entails two separate trail head parking areas; one at Veteran’s Memorial Park and one at the south corporation limit,” Chapman detailed. “With the assistance of ODNR, this project should move more swiftly as our crews have several other projects on the docket for 2014.”

The village is making an effort to take advantage of the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program, which offers a grant allocation to assist with the costs of demolishing two dilapidated properties in town.

“We have tried for several months to work with the two owners on getting them to sign Owner Consent to Demolish forms; however, that has failed miserably,” Chapman said.

Village Solicitor Smith suggested citing every possible code of the PMC that each property is in violation of and approach the issue in that manner. Chapman has identified each of the violations and submitted the information to Mayor Johnson.

“If the village can not get the demolitions under contract before Dec. 31, we will forfeit our grant allocation,” Chapman explained. “I am being told that there may be a second round of funding under this program and if that is the case, I will make a written request to participate in the next round.”

Chapman said the Spencerville Police Department has served each owner of the two referenced properties, for various code violations. Chapman reported that he had requested and received the water treatment plant project (WTP) update from Richard Kirk.

“Poggemeyer Design Group (PDG) and Industrial Fluid Management (IFM) plan to have the first draft of the new drawings and specifications submitted to the OEPA before Christmas,” Chapman added. “Kirk also stated that the building will be ordered in December.”

On Dec. 12, PDG and IFM attended an on-site meeting with the electrician and plumber to discuss their proposed scope of services.

In addition, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) has scheduled an on-site meeting for December 19 at the WTP. Chapman said the purpose of this meeting is to go over the general operation and maintenance of the water system with the villages’ Water Superintendent Jim Cave.

“The OEPA is required to perform a survey of every community water system every three years and our last survey was in 2011,” Chapman stated. “They will review the plant and records to determine if we are in compliance with current regulations.”

The village will receive a report from the OEPA based on their visit and any items noted for correction, will be discussed between Cave and Chapman and prompt action will be taken to correct them.

“I do not foresee any issues with the visit; other than the construction delay of the WTP,” Chapman reasoned.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Village Administration’s office will be compiling a list of addresses that will need to be submitted to the Allen County Auditor for real property tax assessment.

“Most, if not all, of these properties will be those that had maintenance performed on them by the village and have yet to pay the invoices,” Chapman added. “This will be in ordinance form for village council to consider.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:26 PM
 

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