2009-08-15 / News

Cherry Lane bid comes in below estimate

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - Walnut Township Trustees were apparently expecting to hear an earful from residents at their Tuesday morning meeting.

Fiscal Officer Pauline Ety began the meeting by sternly reading three public comment limiting resolutions that trustees approved earlier this year. Anyone wanting to comment must sign in prior to the meeting. Speakers are limited to three minutes and repetitive comments are prohibited. Township worker Tim Morris added another hat to his collection - official timekeeper. He already is parks supervisor and a member of the township zoning commission.

But the issue that trustees likely feared - their role in the zoning approval of a C&DD landfill - didn't come up. A hearing for a Preliminary Injunction sought by neighbors to stop the nearly 33 acre landfill has been pushed back from August 13 to August 31.

Trustees got some good news on road repairs. The county engineer's office received four bids for the first phase of the Cherry Lane rehabilitation project. The Shelly Company was the low bidder at $294,261.10. That's significantly less than the $348,079 estimate. Since the township is paying 25 percent of the cost, Shelly's bid cut the township's share from $87,368 to $73,565. The balance is being paid by a Ohio Public Works Commission grant.

The rehabilitation project will widen the road from 12 feet to 18 feet, add two-foot berms on each side, move fences back to the edge of the road right-of-way and construct and slope new ditches. Phase 1 runs from Blacklick Road north to the Licking County line. Trustees unanimously approved the contract.

Ety asked, "Are we still doing this," before proceeding with the second agenda item under old business. When Trustee Sonny Dupler answered "yes," she read, "For the record, we have not received the records requested on February 11 from the Village of Millersport, Nov., Dec., Jan., Feb duty roster. Second request made on March 25th via certified letter to Mayor Severance."

"For some reason they are refusing to turn over the roster," Dupler added. "Do we want to turn it over to the prosecutor or leave it alone?"

"I think they ought to produce the records," Trustee Wally Gabriel said. "This has been since Feb. 11 and March 25," Ety added. "It's no big deal to turn over the roster unless they are trying to hide something," Dupler said.

Millersport Fire Chief Bill Yates was at the meeting, but trustees didn't ask him about the request. Trustees unanimously agreed to turn the request over to the prosecutor.

Yates brought up the issue at Tuesday night's Millersport Council meeting. As he has explained several times to trustees and village council members, Yates said the roster is a tentative duty schedule done the preceding month. Since most of the department's totally part-time staff have full-time jobs with other departments, those jobs take precedence forcing rather frequent changes to the duty roster. Yates wants to be audited on who actually worked, not on a preliminary schedule, so he and Millersport officials have given the actual time cards to trustees.

"This office (Millersport Village Hall) doesn't keep that record (duty roster)," Yates told council members last night. "I want to be audited on the actual time cards." He added that the duty rosters are "pitched."

"I recommend we have our solicitor respond," Council President Dave Levacy said. "We have reams of paper that we have given them. They want us to produce something we don't have."

Ety had some bad, but expected, financial news for the trustees. The township will get some $44,500 from the state's Local Government Fund this year rather than the expected $56,000. The county auditor certified that township's four fire levies would bring in $955,000 this year. That certification drops to $948,000 next year. The township will also receive $4,000 less next year for roads and bridges.

Ety also announced that the township has a new website address - www.walnuttwp.com - and email address - townshipwalnut@ yahoo.com.

Trustees also agreed to authorize Mike Wolfe to cut a ditch across Ruffner Road. Wolfe will be replacing a four inch tile under the road with an eight inch one. The new tile should be large enough to keep water from backing up on the road after rains. Wolfe is doing the work because he has a laser-equipped ditch machine. "It makes more sense to let him do it," road supervisor Randy Kemmerer said.

During public comments, Fairfield Beach resident Floyd Duncan said, "I have several questions, but I don't want to exceed my three minutes." He opted to focus on the fire protection disparity at Fairfield Beach. Duncan noted that the township recently purchased a new tanker truck for the Thurston/Walnut Township Fire Department. He noted that both Thurston and Millersport have fire hydrants, wondering why the truck went to Thurston instead of to Fairfield Beach where there are no hydrants. "I don't know if you guys planned to throw dirt on it or what," Duncan said. He pushed for an explanation.

"Thurston has always had a tanker," Trustee Wally Gabriel responded. Dupler said it simply replaced a worn out tanker. When Duncan pressed that it made more sense to put the tanker in an area without hydrants, Dupler and Gabriel said Millersport is responsible for assigning equipment to the Fairfield Beach fire station and he suggested he talk with them. Millersport Fire Department doesn't have a tanker.

Morris called time during the discussion, but Duncan was allowed to keep talking. He asked when the platted streets at Fairfield Beach will be opened and paved. "We've been fighting for eight years with the county," Gabriel said. "We can maintain what is there, but we can't open them." Trustees told Duncan to take his concerns to the county engineer's office.

Fairfield Beach resident Robert Gearhart had a complaint about zoning inspector Ralph Reeb. He said Reeb recently told him that his two sheds were violating the township's one-shed rule. Gearhart said he wrote back to Reeb telling him that he received a zoning permit in 1986 allowing him to have two sheds. Both were significantly damaged in a wind storm two years ago so he had replaced them.

He didn't hear back from Reeb and now has a letter from the county prosecutor's office giving him until August 24 to remove the sheds or face a $100 per day fine. "If he is going to start a new law, then he has to pick a date and go forward from there," Gearhart told trustees. He wants Reeb to rescind the order. "We'll address it with Ralph and we'll get you an answer," Gabriel told him.

Trustees' next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25 at the township offices.

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