The February 12 meeting of the West Unity Village Council opened with Council hearing from Marilyn Royal, who serves on the Beatification Committee for the West Unity Area Chamber of Commerce. Royal explained that she, as well as her committee and the whole of the Chamber, are hopeful that they will be able to team up with the Village in order to replace the 16 street lights in the village. Royal also explained that they have contacted Todd Roth as well as done research on similar improvements in other villages so that an estimate of total cost can be obtained.
Upon an inquiry made from Street Supervisor Jim Eisel, Royal also noted that the Chamber has been keeping in mind both the Christmas directions as well as the West Unity banners used on the street lights. While the Chamber is working to keep both the decorations and banners new and in good condition, other options such as having the banners hang over sidewalks as opposed to the street may also be put into play. This option might also assist in keeping new street lights from being at a height that they would shine into upstairs apartment windows.
At the suggestion of Mayor Peg Bernath, a meeting with the Street Committee and Gary Keyes of Toledo Edison will be held to further investigate the replacement of the lights.
Also up for discussion during the meeting was the possibility of changing S. High Street back into a two way street. The request to do so, which has come from the residents on the street, would allow for travel from Lynn Street onto High Street. However, due to the possibility that traffic coming from S. High Street onto Jackson Street may cause an increase in traffic congestion and the potential of accidents at and near the High Street/Jackson Street intersection, the option two make travel from S. High Street onto Jackson Street right turn only seems to be the option most favored by council, Village Administrator Ric Beals, and Police Chief J.R. Jones.
Also considered by Council was legislation that would allow for the Village Administrator to ensure that all water leaks had been appropriately fixed before water was turned back on to a residence where the water had previously been turned off. Large water leaks, resulting in water usage nearing 100,000 gallons per month, by some property owners within the village have become a large concern. Thos properties, usually rentals, often see water turned off and then turned back on with only the owner’s word that the leaks have been fixed. Ordinance 2015-01, which passed during the meeting on emergency, will allow for the Village Administrator to either go in and check to ensure that leaks have been fixed or to sign off after a plumber has validated the work.
However, the related ordinance, Ordinance 2015-02, which allows for the Village to collect past due amounts from property owners in the event that renters are unable to be found, met some opposition from Street Supervisor Jim Eisel, who owns rental property himself. Eisel questioned whether or not shut offs could occur more quickly as well as if property owners could be given quicker notice than is currently the standard.
Mayor Peggy Bernath pointed out that bills that do not get paid ultimately become the burden of the tax payer and that the village has no say in who property owners rent to. However, she did also note that Eisel expressed legitimate concerns regarding how long a bill would be allowed to run up before an owner was notified and/or service was shut off. The matter is being researched further to see if such accommodations can be made without violating hardship laws. However, the ordinance did past on first reading while the matter is under investigation.
During the meeting, Council also:
•Accepted a donation from Mayor Peg Bernath and Councilman Randy Mahlman for cabinets, valued at $300, for the Kissell Buidling.
•Heard from Police Chief J.R. Jones that Tyler Borton has recently been hired into the department as a part time officer.
•Approved Fiscal Officer Kim Grime to apply for a scholarship to attend OAPT training June 8-12.
•Learned that all of the village’s equipment has been running and functioning well during the snow incidents seen so far this season.
•Heard about a water main break that was repaired in between S. Main Street and S. Liberty Street in January.
•Learned that Village Administrator Ric Beals graduated from the ODNR Tree Commission Academy. Beals thanked Mayor Peg Bernath for attending the graduation ceremony.
•Heard that tree removal within the Village has stalled because of the snow. It was also noted that one resident did ask that notice be given to homeowners before tree removal. As the trees are owned by the Village, only a short notice can be given and will generally not allow for opposition to a tree’s removal.
•Heard that Beals has met with Todd Roth regarding planning out the rest of 2015. Finishing the storm mapping as soon as the weather breaks is first on the agenda. Other items depend on possible grants.
•Learned that both sewage pumps quit working on County Road 21. Village employees were able to get one working quickly enough to keep up and there has not been any overflow issues. The second one has since been repaired as well.
•Learned that Beals has submitted several year-end reports to Ohio EPA, Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, U.S., Census, Ohio Gas Company, and Black Swamp Safety Council. Beals has also recently attended Black Swamp Safety Council, and WEDCO meetings as well as the Four County Career Center National Vocational Celebration.
•Learned that Little League and 2015 tax forms have been added to the Village website.
The next regular meeting of the West Unity Village Council will be held on Thursday, March 12 at 7:30 in Council Chambers.
Chelsie can be reached at