2009-10-17 / News

Meeting set to organize crime watches

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Village Council is ready to take a bite out of crime.

Council member Jeryne Peterson said Monday night that the village has rescheduled a meeting with the Licking County Sheriff’s Office to discuss creating neighborhood crime watches throughout Buckeye Lake Village. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, at the Village Hall and features Licking County Deputy Nick Pease. A similar meeting set for early last summer was cancelled at the last minute.

Previously, Licking County Sheriff Captain Tom Lee said Licking County’s block watch program is a series of awareness programs and some self-defense training programs. “It’s all driven by what the community wants,” said Lee.

He added that the best defense people have against crime is being reasonably nosey. “Getting to know your neighbors,” said Lee, “that’s the big thing.” The more residents know about each other, the more obvious it will be if there’s something wrong or unusual.

Lee said there are several such citizens’ groups within Licking County. On a national scale, Lee said citizens’ groups began in Los Angeles in the 1960s, when running a household demanded dual incomes. No one was home during the day and the opportunities for theft increased exponentially. Also, electronics became cheaper and homeowners purchased multiple television sets, complex stereos, and many temptations for thieves. “Wives worked and people bought more stuff,” said Lee.

Peterson said previously a block watch is a “proactive approach” to crime prevention. The block watch program requires a coordinator in each subdivision. A “phone tree,” or calling list, or an email chain is created, and each subdivision or neighborhood would have a communication plan to follow if someone sees something unusual happening.

Let’s say, for example, someone’s breaking into cars somewhere in the village. The coordinator advises everyone within the communication chain that there’s a problem. If anyone sees anything, the local police are contacted. Peterson said the purpose of the block watch is “just to be an extra set of eyes and ears to keep everyone informed.” Block watch members have no legal authority and should contact police if crime is suspected. Members are not qualified to take matters into their own hands.

In other council news:

• Mayor Frank Foster said 90 percent of the six-inch diameter water lines are installed throughout the village; Buckeye Lake is in the process of installing a public water distribution system, which will draw bulk water from the neighboring Village of Millersport. Foster said a 12-inch diameter line from a pump station on the village’s west end is being installed across the village to a water tower on Mill Dam Road. The pump station is nearly complete.

• The village is accepting resumes from residents wanting to fill former council member Drew Bourne’s vacated position. Bourne, who has two years left on his term, accepted a new job in West Virginia. His Oct. 22 resignation date was announced during the Sept. 28 meeting. Resumes are due to the Village Office by Nov. 6.

• Foster said the village is addressing a “huge mound of dirt” deposited on Union Street. He believes it may be a zoning code violation. Foster said a property owner asked Stillion Brothers, the contractor installing the public water distribution system, to leave the mound of fill dirt on the property. It’s any Buckeye Lake resident’s right to do so, said Foster, but, “This one particular situation seems extremely out of hand.”

Council President Charlene Hayden said the council should consider passing legislation to limit the size of dirt mounds so they don’t become gigantic eyesores, like the Union Street mound. This is terrible,” she said. “I’m really upset about this.”

• Council agreed to reschedule Beggar’s Night to Thursday, Oct. 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m. It was to be Saturday, Oct. 31, but council members worried a Saturday Beggar’s Night invited problems. Council members requested that residents not handing out treats during Beggar’s Night to leave their lights off.

• Director of Development Valerie Hans said a one-mill levy on the November ballot solely for the operation of village streetlights will be Issue 8 (although it will not be identified as a streetlight levy on the ballot), and Issue 9 will be a three-mills police department renewal levy.

• Council Clerk Tim Matheny announced his official government retirement, although he’ll continue to work for the village as a retiree. According to Ohio Public Employees Retirement System rules, Matheny is penalized $800 in benefits if he returns to work within two months of official retirement.

Hayden said it would be difficult to train a replacement for two months, particularly as the water system comes together and suggested the village pay Matheny $100 per week extra for two months to make up for his $800 loss.

Foster said he realizes money is tight, but, “Frankly, it could cost us more if we didn’t have him do this.” Council members unanimously agreed to compensate Matheny for the $800 loss.

• Council agreed to buy out a week’s worth of vacation time from Buckeye Lake Police Captain James Hanzey per his request for roughly $650. Council members agreed to do so because Buckeye Lake will have more police coverage since Hanzey won’t be on vacation and the village won’t need to pay a full-time officer overtime or hire a part-timer to cover his shift.

“I’m concerned about a lack of (police) coverage in the village,” said Peterson.

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