2009-12-12 / News

Millersport reluctantly agrees to EMS/fire contract

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT – Village council members, by a 5-1 vote, very reluctantly agreed to accept Walnut Township’s contract for EMS/fire services. Shane Wise voted “no.”

Fire Chief Bill Yates and mayor’s assistant Vince Popo outlined the changes and their effects. Yates said, based on the county auditor’s certification for 2010 for $948,000 from the township’s four fire levies and the village’s allocation increase from 56.5 percent to 60 percent, he expects Millersport’s revenue to increase about $33,000 next year. However, moving from 12/7 to 24/7 staffing at the Fairfield Beach station will increase expenses by $105,120. That means the village is going to be about $72,000 short.

“I can do it for a year,” Yates said. Plans to purchase LifePak 12 Defibrillator/Monitors for each medic will have to be put on hold. The “12” refers to the number of leads placed on the patient; additional leads provide more information about the patient’s heart, speeding treatment at the hospital. He believes Millersport may be the only department in Fairfield County without LifePak12.

Technology continues to improve and LifePak 15’s are becoming the new standard. This unit transmits extensive data to the hospital while the patient is being transported, allowing the patient to be taken directly to cardiac care units if needed, bypassing emergency room evaluation. Yates said the 15’s are now on the state bid list. They cost approximately $30,000 each.

The department is down to two water survival suits which means it really doesn’t have enough equipment for an ice rescue. Suits cost about $500 each.

Yates also expects to cut the $15,000 a year paid to volunteers in run incentives and points. The department has a strong base of volunteers. He can pick up some more money one time by cutting the year end carryover, but he needs at least $120,000 since it is a long four months from the last payment of the year (Dec. 24) to the first of the new year (April 24).

The contract will be signed and returned to trustees with a letter of reservations from Mayor Dean Severance. That letter will state that the allocation reduction from the requested 65 percent to 60 percent will jeopardize the health and welfare of township residents and the fire firefighters themselves. Council President Dave Levacy said Severance should call it an “underfunded mandate.”

He also asked how trustees could fund three people on a shift at the Thurston station versus two each at Millersport and Fairfield Beach stations. “Where’s the logic in that?” Levacy asked.

“This is a joke,” council member Gary Matheny said. “This a personal vendetta. I hope no one get hurt because of his (Trustee Sonny Dupler) stupidity.”

In other business Tuesday night, village officials worked out a plan of action with Fairfield County Engineer Frank W. Anderson, P.E. and his administrative assistant Jeff Camechis to address obstructions in the county-owned right-of-way on Millersport Road (County Road 58).

Anderson said there were more than a dozen ‘trespass obstructions,’ mostly on the east side of the road. County-owned property extends as much as 69 feet from the center of the road to the east, encompassing signs, fences, part of the concrete parking lot for the strip center and vehicles parked in that lot.

“We have a whole bunch of trespass issues,” Camechis said. “It is a liability to the county.” He said the county prosecutor’s office has now told them to move ahead on getting the obstructions removed.

One option, he said, is for the village to take over the portion of the road north from the village limits to the entrance to Lieb’s Island. It is difficult for the county to reduce the speed limit in that section from the current 55 mph which heightens the danger from the obstructions. The village, on the hand, Camechis said, could easily reduce the speed limit to the 25 mph now in effect once motorists enter the village. The lower speed limit would reduce the risk.

After additional discussions with the county prosecutor’s office, he believes first transferring maintenance and ownership of that portion of Millersport Road to the village is the best option. The county would still be responsible for maintaining the bridge over Feeder Creek. Once the village owned the property, formal annexation would be a quick process.

At that point, village regulations would determine which obstructions could remain and which ones would have to be removed. If the county retains control, the guardrail in front of part of the strip center would be the first to be removed. “We don’t know how the guardrail got there,” Camechis said. “It’s not warranted there.” If it is not warranted, it is considered a hazard.

Council members, by a 5-1 vote with James Wright dissenting, agreed to pursue ownership of that portion of the road.

Popo huddled with Anderson and Camechis after their presentation seeking their help in resolving the name problem with Ohio 204 as it runs west out of the village. Part of it is considered Blacklick Eastern Road, confusing emergency dispatchers and delaying response times in that area. Popo reported later in the meeting that Anderson suggested a quick name change petition which would officially change the name to Refugee Street.

It appears village officials have now come up with a plan that satisfies Lancaster Street residents between Main and Mill streets, while addressing the congestion that often forces vehicles over the center-line to get around parked vehicles. Currently parking is permitted on both sides of that block. Lancaster narrows from nearly 37 feet wide at Mill Street to just 31 feet at Main Street.

Earlier this year, council members decided to ban parking on both sides of the street so two large vehicles like school buses going in opposite directions could pass each other safely. Some neighbors protested that they first heard about the ban in The Beacon, so council members rescinded the ordinance and sought some assistance from ODOT.

The plan presented Tuesday night to residents will ban parking on the east side of the street and create 10 designated parking spaces on the west side. At Mill Street, the center-line will be moved approximately three feet east increasing to four feet east at Main Street. Levacy said ODOT has agreed to remove the current center-line and repaint it, but it probably won’t be done until early spring. There will be snow restrictions for parking on the west side.

“I’m happy with it,” Lancaster Street resident David Brookover told council.

Street supervisor Gilbert Arnold still isn’t convinced. “I still don’t think you’ll have enough room,” he said. “I’m not in favor of parking period. It’s just too close.”

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