Letherman House spared for now
THORNVILLE - Thornville's Letherman house will stay intact, for now.
Following a lengthy executive session, Monday night, Village Solicitor Michael Crites recommended council let the courts decide the fate of a home willed to the village in 1980 by the late Mary Letherman. She asked that the home, next door to the Thornville Post Office, be used as a community recreation center, a doctor's office, or be destroyed if neither use was possible.
Council members decided during a previous meeting that upgrading the old home to the public specifications needed to create a community center or doctor's office was too expensive and impractical. Destroying the house is the only other option according to the will, but some council and community members believe the home should be preserved for its historic value.
Crites said Monday night that the will was "less artfully written" than it could have been, and leaves much to interpretation. Also, Crites was concerned that any action the village may take might upset one of the will's beneficiaries, who may force the village to reverse its action and cost Thornville tens of thousands of dollars. "Let the court decide what to do with it. That way you're protected," he said. Crites added that he discussed the situation with Perry County Probate Court Judge Luann Cooperrider before reaching his conclusion.
"You can't willy-nilly say you're going to give it back," said resident Patricia Reinhart who publicly supports preserving the Letherman house.
"Let's ask (the courts) if we have the right to keep it," said Crites. "The goal is to protect the village from liability." He believes it may be possible for the village to keep the property and use the house for something other than what's described in the will, or the village may be able to raze the house and build a new structure in its place as long as that structure relates to a community center or medical office in some manner. But, he reiterated, it's best to let the court make that decision.
"I applaud your recommendation," said resident Willis McNabb to Crites.
Council rescinded a motion passed during the previous council meeting to fulfill the terms of the will.
"Don't tear (the house) down," said Crites firmly. "Get it back to the court before doing anything."
In other Thornville news:
• Mayor Beth Patrick said representatives from the Ohio Auditor's Office collected village records from 2006, 2007, and some of 2008 to conduct a routine audit of the village's finances.
• Patrick said the Thornville Moose Lodge donated $4,000 to the village swimming pool fund. The lodge has donated a total of $20,000 to the pool this year. Patrick said it was the lodge's request that all Moose donated money goes to the pool.
• Police Chief Nick Garver said he's reviewing the street signage around town to make sure it's all at the proper height. For whatever reason, he said, some of the signs are abnormally short. Patrick said Garver will become permanent police chief at the end of the month, when he completes a village mandated six-month probation period for new hires. She said according to the village's employee manual, only the mayor or village administrator could end the chief's employment at the end of his probation period or to extend his probation period and, in Garver's case, no one intends to do either.