2010-05-15 / News

Millersport gets a new police chief for a year

Millersport Mayor Dean Severance swears in Police Captain John Shirk as acting police chief. He will serve as chief while Chief Randall Lewis is on a year-long leave of absence to work in Iraq. Beacon photo by Charles Prince. Millersport Mayor Dean Severance swears in Police Captain John Shirk as acting police chief. He will serve as chief while Chief Randall Lewis is on a year-long leave of absence to work in Iraq. Beacon photo by Charles Prince. MILLERSPORT – There’s a new police chief in town.

Mayor Dean Severance swore in Police Captain John Shirk as acting police chief following an executive session during Tuesday night’s village council meeting. Shirk replaces Police Chief Randall Lewis who took a leave of absence to work as a criminal investigator for a US State Department contractor in Iraq. Lewis will be gone for a year.

Shirk moves from part-time status to full-time. His salary and pension contribution package totals $40,668 which is the same as Lewis’.

Lewis left Saturday for several weeks of training before departing for Iraq. Shirk told council members that one of his first priorities is to follow up on some interest from Village of Thurston officials about a possible contract with Millersport for police protection.

In other business Tuesday night, council members, after some extended discussion, decided to hold a special council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, to discuss an ordinance setting fees for gaming parlors. The meeting comes after reports of a skill game parlor coming to town and the village solicitor’s analysis of their options.

Council members quickly agreed that trying to use zoning to exclude skill games probably wouldn’t be successful. A consensus emerged to take the same approach as the City of Newark – setting an annual facility fee based on the number of gaming machines and a per machine fee.

“It can become cost prohibitive to put them in (skill games),” Severance said. “We can certainly justify licensing fees.” Council members plan to discuss the fee structure in detail at the special meeting and have an ordinance ready for the next regular council meeting on Tuesday, June 8.

During a brief pool report, Severance and several council members thanked President Pro Tem Dave Levacy for the new pool sign he donated. Severance said rather than spending about $1,000 to repair a non-commercial freezer at the pool, the village purchased a new commercial freezer for $1,295.

Fire Chief Bill Yates said the village received its first 2010 fire contract payment from Walnut Township on April 23. The check was for $138,716.30. Yates added that the township received $465,387.68 in fire levy revenue from the county. Since the contract gives Millersport 60 percent of the revenue after the ombudsman salary is paid, Yates expected a check of about $275,000, not about half that amount. “I think it (the contract) is very clear,” he added.

Council members were more disappointed than surprised by the short payment, noting that Trustee Sonny Dupler seems to have some secret formula for making payments to the village. Yates said he couldn’t duplicate Dupler’s math but had refrained from questioning it without council’s approval. He noted that the contract doesn’t call for equal payments nor is the payment schedule quarterly. This is the village’s first payment in four months. He was authorized to seek an explanation from trustees.

Yates said the fire department is taking a more active role with the Boy Scouts Explorer program. “There is a lot of interest,” he said. Boys and girls can participate and so far they have seven active Explorers. Police Chief John Shirk who is also a member of the fire department will coordinate the program. He believes there could be another 15 youths interested in the program.

Council member Donna Thogmartin brought up several complaints that residents have raised with her. Neighbors wants some Park Street townhouse residents to pull back their garbage cans from the street. “It just looks trashy,” Thogmartin said. She also asked police to watch the speed of semi’s coming through town. They are going a lot faster than 25 mph, she added. Thogmartin said she has the same concerns as other residents about vehicles pulling out to go around vehicles turning left at the village’s only traffic light. Several council members said replacing the traffic light with a four-way stop would probably be a safer solution since every vehicle would have to come to a stop. Levacy reminded council members that a previous proposal to do just that drew strong protests from some residents. There isn’t enough room at the intersection to create left turn lanes, he noted. He plans to ask an ODOT manager who lives in Millersport for some advice.

Sam’s Pest Control will be spraying for mosquitoes again this year. Spraying will be every other Wednesday and just before the Sweet Corn Festival.

J-me Braig of the Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society and Museum updated council members on the Trek Women’s Triathon Series that will come to Buckeye Lake and Millersport on Sunday, July 25. The Society and the Greater Licking County Convention & Visitors Bureau are the local sponsors. The national series is moving here from Alum Creek State Park. The other race sites this year are Austin; Chicagoland; East Bay, CA; Monroe, MI; Orlando; Palm Springs; and Seattle.

Braig expects 500-800 competitors and 2,500 to 3,500 spectators. The 1/2 mile swim will be done off Brooks Park with the 12 mile bike race along Ohio 204, finishing with a 3.1 mile run in Millersport. Exact courses for the bike and foot races haven’t been set.

Yates said the national promoter, HFP Racing, has been in contact with him. “It’s well organized,” he added. Braig hopes the event can become an annual one.

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