Bennie will be back in January
By Scott Rawdon
KIRKERSVILLE- Kirkersville Mayor Bennie Evans' local political career isn't over yet.
Shortly after losing a reelection bid 103-77 to former Kirkersville Mayor Terry Ashcraft, village council members gave him a council seat effective Jan. 1. Evans was appointed to fulfillthe remaining two years of council member Bobbi Miller's term. Miller is resigning Dec. 31 because she and her family are moving out of state. Evans' son-in-law, Steve Piatt, abstained from the Dec. 5 vote, but everyone else, including Miller, supported his appointment.
Kirkersville Solicitor Deborah Kenney said Miller's letter of resignation suggested Evans replace her, and council agreed. Kenny said village councils have 30 days to appoint whomever they choose to fillcouncil vacancies. Since Evans will no longer be mayor as of Jan. 1, there's no law that prevents appointing him to council once Miller's position is open, she said.
Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt was unwilling to render an additional opinion. Neither Evans nor Ashcraft had comment.
The village conducted a door to door survey, asking residents if they were in favor of public water service from the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District. "I believe it was 70 for and 59 against," said village engineer Gary Silcott, senior associate with R.D. Zande & Associates, Inc. "They still can't get 100 percent of the people to respond, but they had the first reading of the agreement (between Kirkersville and the Southwest Licking district)" during the Dec. 5 council meeting and will have several more readings during the coming months.
Council member Jim Kincaid said council members favored contracting for public water, but they didn't have a formal ordinance ready to allow the mayor to enter into a contract, and he said the village will have readings of that ordinance during upcoming regular council meetings. Kincaid said that it may be into early April before the ordinance and a contract with the Southwest Licking district go into effect.
Kincaid said the ordinance will allow the entire village to acquire water service eventually, but currently there are only plans to supply water to the Ohio 158 corridor, or phase one, which includes the Flying J Truck Stop, Phantom Fireworks, Kirkersville Elementary School, and several parcels proposed for development. Previously, SWLCWSD General Manager Donald Rector said the businesses and developers using the water lines would pay for the majority of the phase one infrastructure.
Phase two would service the rest of the village, said Rector, but phase two is on hold indefinitelyas the district works to findgrant money to subsidize village infrastructure construction.