2007-02-17 / News

Thornville Council plows through issues

By Scott Rawdon

THORNVILLE- Stop in Thornville--if you can. Monday night, Thornville Village Council members and residents were clearly unhappy with how the village handles its snow plowing. A formal village snowplowing policy and procedure was written Tuesday morning, directly following the Monday meeting.

Council member Charlie Hale said Monday night that the village crew didn't start plowing until relatively late in the morning following a recent snowfall. People going to work early, in particular, had to deal with snowy village roads.

Council member Ron Dittoe said that several people were having a hard time stopping at an intersection near his home after recent snowfall, adding that he didn't see any abrasive material on the snowy street surface to help vehicles maintain control.

Village Administrator Josh Eggleston said it was too cold for salt to work that particular morning, but acknowledged that the village streets weren't plowed until 8 a.m., which is long after many residents leave for work. He thought that abrasives were applied, although Dittoe said he hadn't seen them. Council members and residents present at Monday night's meeting agreed that the plow needs to start plowing and salting long before dawn when snow is falling.

Tuesday morning, Eggleston said the plow didn't start until 7 a.m. despite snowy conditions, but he said after Monday night's meeting, he drafted a snow plow policy and procedure to present to the general maintenance superintendent. The policy clearly presents guidelines for the plowing of village roadways and must be followed or the employee will be subject to disciplinary action.

But, one resident contended Monday night that problems exist even when the plow is moving. "I'm being harassed by an employee you have," resident Terry Anderson told Eggleston. He presented council with photos he said prove that the plow is blocking his parked vehicle with snow. At one point, a small American flaghe assumed was taken from the cemetery was placed spitefully in front of his buried vehicle. Anderson also believes that some people are getting preferential treatment from the plow operator, and the operator carelessly blocks newly hand-shoveled private driveways with plowed snow.

Dittoe backed Anderson, saying that he's had to help Anderson remove snow from Anderson's parked vehicle. "I think people are tired of it. They want to see the job done correctly," said Dittoe.

Eggleston said Tuesday he was unable to say if Anderson is or is not being harassed. The pictures presented at Monday's meeting, he said, raise some concern and while there is no definitive proof of who planted the flag, it still needs to be addressed in some manner. The situation will need to be monitored closely. "I hope that an amicable solution between (Anderson) and the village can be reached," he said. "I also believe that any future issues can be eliminated with the policy that I've drafted."

In other council news:

*Dittoe presented council with an outline of Thorn Township's proposal for a police district- prepared by Thorn Township Trustee Tim Phipps- which would include Thorn Township, Thornville, Hopewell Township, and Glenford. "It sounds like a good idea from what I've seen," he said. If approved, the district could potentially take over Thornville's police department office and establish an office in Glenford. The trustees hope to have the proposal ready for public vote in November 2007. If the district is approved by voters and Thornville takes part, the district would simply absorb the Thornville Police Department. The district would be governed by representatives of Thorn and Hopewell townships, as well as Glenford and Thornville. Dittoe believes Thorn Township will push forward with the proposal regardless of Thornville's involvement. He was clear that the police district is only a proposal.

Thornville Mayor Dale Brussee said Thornville Police Chief Duane Moore is involved in the discussions with Thorn Township.

Brussee said Tuesday he believes a police district is a "good idea" for Northern Perry County. "I don't have any problem with it," he said. Currently, the Perry County Sheriff's Office isn't routinely patrolling any part of the county.

Brussee added Tuesday that he expects the Thornville Police Department to be out of debt by the end of the year. He said that the department's budget is designed to be balanced from the general fund and a "bookkeeping error" has made the department appear as though it is in debt. The village is currently striving to pull its general fund out of the red and no funds have been available to balance the police department. Today, the department is operating with one part-time chief and one auxiliary officer who mainly works weekends. The village is interviewing more auxiliaries. The department lost its full-time officer last year and has not replaced him. Brussee said the department has saved significantmoney by not replacing the fulltime officer,but it's also lost "80 to 90 percent" of its patrols.

*The village is working to recover $2423.07 that the Meadows at Thornville apartment complex owes in delinquent utility bills. Eggleston explained that unpaid closed accounts or accounts that have not been closed out in a timely manner and continually assessed with a minimum bill are to blame for the delinquencies. Eggleston hopes the matter is settled before the complex changes management. He, Brussee, and Thornville Account Clerk Anna Cox met with management two weeks ago, and management offered to give the village a private roadway instead of paying the delinquency total. The offer didn't sit too well with some members of council Monday night.

"Just call them and tell them we're not going to do it," said council member Kevin Howell.

Brussee said no deal has been made with The Meadows and he'll continue to pursue payment for the delinquent bills. Eggleston said since he's a tenant of the complex, the village solicitor advised him to step down from the situation not to take any further action against the Meadows on the village's behalf because of a potential conflict of interest. "Any Meadows issues, I'm not supposed to spearhead at all," he said. Brussee will take over.

*Council members were surprised to learn that what they thought was an informal discussion about Firehouse Pizza's application for a liquor permit was a formal and somewhat costly appeal, which the village solicitor was required by law to attend.

Council President Jim Royer said the meeting was held so anyone opposing the permit could speak publicly. "We need to filethat away as a lesson learned," he said. Tuesday, Eggleston said council approved a hearing to be held in New Lexington, which took place Jan. 22. "The village was unaware requesting a hearing signified a formal objection to the permit application," he said. Firehouse Pizza was granted its permit.

*Council members debated whether to charge the Thornville Youth Recreation Association- which is the little league organization in Thornville- with a minimum water bill. TYRA uses the baseball fields at the park for its games and operates a concession stand. Eggleston said the organization has never been assessed with a water and sewer bill, but the recommendation was made by the Parks and Recreation Committee at its Jan. 29 meeting. As village administrator, said Eggleston, his concern is TYRA does so many positive things for the park that he doesn't want to discourage them from the work and improvements that they perform by assessing an extra cost.

Dittoe agreed. "We should be grateful for what TYRA does for the community. I don't want to burden them," he said. The matter was tabled for further discussion.

*Negotiations continue regarding a potential partnership between Thornville and Perry County to provide sewer service to residents on the south bank of Buckeye Lake, mainly along Honey Creek Road. Royer said the last time he reviewed a proposed contract from Perry County, he was unhappy with it. Some things were not in the proposal that he expected to see.

"There's an awful lot of information that didn't make it in there," said Dittoe.

Eggleston said right now contracts for water and sewer service are "going back and forth" between the village and Village Solicitor Michael Crites.

Royer said the village should be "scared to death" to enter into any sort of sewer agreement with Licking County (no agreement with Licking County is being considered by the village), as it's proposing a 69 percent sewer rate increase to cover government mandated upgrades to its Buckeye Lake sewer facility. Any sewer agreement done with anyone incorrectly could "break Thornville's back," he said.

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