By: Chelsie Firestone – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
During their December 30 meeting, members of the West Unity Village Council bid a fond farewell to Council member Dave Chester, who lost his bid for re-election during the last election. All members noted the good that Chester had done for the village and thanked him for his twelve years of service. In response Chester noted that “It’s been a great time” and wished council well in the future. He also expressed his belief that West Unity’s council has become more progressive and accountable since he began and that “West Unity is in great shape”. Chester also noted his hope that the parks would remain a focus for the council as “the foundation of a community is in its schools and parks”.
The farewell to Chester was followed by the welcoming of Randy Mahlman, who was administered his Oath of Office by Mayor Peggy Bernath during the January 9 meeting. Also renewing their oaths were Ron Hausch, Dave Short, and Donovan Leu, all of whom were re-elected during the last election. After the oaths were administered, council moved on to the task of selecting a council president for the next term. A motion was made by Ron Hausch and seconded by Dave Short to re-elect Kirk Thompson to fill the position. Thompson then made a motion, which was seconded by Don Leu, to elect Dave Short to the position. A tie was broken by ballot vote, with Thompson winning the election which will result in his continuance of filling the role of Council President.
During his report to council during the January 9 meeting, Village Administrator Ric Beals commented on the large storms and bitter cold temperatures that the area has recently seen and expressed his appreciation of employees in all of the departments who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep services going within the town.
Beals also informed council that he has received notice that the village will not be receiving any Issue 1 funding for 2014. As a result he proposed that the village wait to replace any more water lines in 2014 and use capital funds to instead replace two of the village’s vehicles and to continue to improve chip/seal and pavement along some of the village’s streets. Beals also noted that he has submitted the annual records to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for 2013 and that, with zero lost time accidents again in 2013, the village can anticipate another refund. Other items included in Beals report included that the village will continue to use the old vactor truck until it gives out and that council will need to come to a decision about what to do with the old water tower, which is in need of maintenance. Costs to clean and coat the inside of the tower are approximately $25,000 and costs to bring the entire up to code, which could be done in phases, are a staggering $250,000. In comparison, the cost to have the tower, which is not imperative to the village’s water supply, is approximately $20,000.
Mayor Peggy Bernath commented on the outstanding job village employees did in keeping up with the town’s needs throughout the winter storm and also reported that a revision of the Kissel Building rental agreement is underway. The new agreement will have one flat fee for rentals and is being done in hope that more people will rent the facility in the future.
Fiscal Officer Becky Thatcher reported that she had put in some long hours to close out the year end books but that she managed to accomplish the task in time and all files were submitted in a timely manner to the Auditor of Sate as well as the UAN. All necessary paperwork was also filed at the Williams County Courthouse as soon as it re-opened after the storm on Wednesday, January 8. Thatcher also expressed her gratitude to council for allowing her to be trained and spend a good deal of time learning from previous fiscal officer Beth Rediger. Thatcher noted that she “cannot thank council enough for the opportunity to work with her and glean some of her knowledge and be trained by her”.
During their individual reports all council members also commented on the job done by village employees to keep the streets clear and residents safe during the storm. Councilor Ron Hausch did ask Police Chief J.R. Jones to explain the village’s snow ordinance. Jones explained that the ordinance states that sidewalks generally need cleared within six hours of the end of snowfall but noted that no reminders were given during the previous storm until late Wednesday afternoon, after the temperatures rose to safe enough for residents to be out in. He also noted that only reminders and no citations were given and explained that the ordinance is in place to ensure that residents, including children on their way to school, have safe sidewalks to walk upon. In response, Councilor Don Leu noted that additional sidewalk repairs would also be a good use of capital funds over the course of 2014. All other members as well as Beals noted that this was a good suggestion and one to be considered as council begins to think about what projects they want and need to work on over the course of the next year.
Chelsie Firestone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org