By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Preparations continuing for the upcoming Tree Day USA celebration next month in West Unity.
The Village Council talked about the event, slated for April 20 at the Kissel Building during its regular meeting March 10.The village will close its office for the event, but staff will be available by cell phone.
Tree City USA is an annual event in the region and this will be the 30th year the village has had the designation and the first to host the celebration, Mayor Peg Bernath said.
To prepare for the event, work has been done to the Kissel Building. The village has been helped by many volunteers, Bernath said.
“The Kissel Building looks very nice,” Bernath said during the meeting.
The village has also received help from the school and the process has stayed under budget, Village Administrator Josh Fritsch said.
The KIssel Building has received new LED lights with motion sensors. This will help save on electricity costs, Fritsch said. The LED light and fixture are one unit and should last about 20 years before they need to be replaced he said.
The highlight of the event will be the showing of the documentary “Trees in Trouble.” The film is by Andrea Torrice, an award-winning documentarian and public television producer.
There will also be several awards handed out, Bernath said.
The Village Council approved the first reading on an ordinance amendment regarding personal time/holiday pay. The village does not offer holidays to its police officers, so the new ordinance gives them the opportunity to choose when they will take time off for eight holidays.
A new policy will pay part-time officers more to be more competitive with other communities and will pay them 1.5 times their hourly rate for any holidays they are called in to cover a shift.
The police have decided against having Easter and the Friday after Thanksgiving designated as holidays, Bernath said.
In other news, the Police Department will seek a safety grant to help pay for a new SUV. The grant can go as high as $100,000, while estimates for a new fully outfitted and lettered SUV is $43,000, Chief J.R. Jones said.
The Fire Department is not participating due to time constraints and the particular needs of a new truck, Fritsch said to the Village Council.
The Council removed the probationary tag from Fritsch’s title and gave him a $2,000 a year raise. The administrator will complete his six-month probationary period March 14.
Council suspended the rule requiring three readings and passed the measure.
Village counsel advised that residents are not responsible for putting drain pipes (laterals) under the street as had been previously thought. They are responsible from building drain to the street only.