2013-09-14 / News

Millersport wants more children

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT – Mayor’s Assistant and Walnut Township School Board member Vince Popo is seeking about 100 new students for the small district.

Popo presented a draft Tuesday night of “A Way Forward” that he crafted with Village Council member Dustin Bidwell. He presented the same draft Monday night to his fellow school board members.

The draft includes a map of Millersport that highlights five areas that could host new development. The two largest undeveloped tracts are the farm land on the west side of Lancaster Street across from the high school and the now village-owned property west of the new water treatment plant.

“This (the draft) is designed to get discussion going,” Popo told council members. “Our school district is in big trouble,” he explained. “We can’t continue deficit spending.”

Popo said concerns about the state having to eventually take over the district for financial reasons are real. More students would increase state financial aid and more homes would increase the tax base. Both would help reduce the deficit.

Several council members related how the declining number of students is affecting athletics and other programs.

“We would like to keep the school district here,” Bidwell said. “We need to find ways to grow.”

Popo hopes that the village, school board and township trustees can discuss the issue in a joint community meeting in October. Public opinion will be very important with input from farmers, residents, village council, the school board and township trustees.

In other business Tuesday night, council members continued to discuss the proposed resolutions addressing yard sales and removing trash containers from along the roadway. Resident Eric Scher, who objected last month to what he considers a very rigid response to a very limited problem, presented written revisions.

His version added the option of bundling loose waste instead of just requiring it all to be containerized. He would allow trash containers to be along the roadway for up to 96 hours. The original proposal said no earlier than 4 p.m. on the day before pickup and no later than 6 a.m. on the day after collection.

Mayor Dean Severance first proposed extending the 6 a.m. deadline to noon and later agreed with council member David Sherrer’s suggestion that it total no more than 48 hours – from noon on the day before collection to noon on the day after collection.

Council member Donna Thogmartin who first raised the issue last year agreed. “We want to get rid of the all-week stuff.”

Scher also proposed that trash containers could remain no closer than 24 inches to the roadway all the time if the container is stored within a shelter to obscure its visibility and presents “a neat and clean appearance.”

Both Scher and Severance agreed that violations be considered zoning or property maintenance code violations rather than minor misdemeanors which are actually criminal violations. They also agreed that the fine for the first violation be $25 with subsequent violations costing $50 each time.

Scher questioned the need for the village to regulate yard sales at all. He said state law concerning collection of sales tax limits casual sales (non-taxable) to six days. Continuing yard sales could be referred to the state Department of Taxation.

He suggested allowing yard sale signs to be posted up to 72 hours before the sale rather than the 12 hours in original version. Sellers would have 48 hours to remove signs, again up from 12.

“We’ll try to finalize all this for next month,” Severance said.

Popo had good news for council members. He reported that after a nearly decade-long battle the village now owns the former Sohio station turned apartment building on Lancaster Street. It will soon be torn down under the Moving Ohio Forward program.

Council members also approved spending an additional $1,650 with Birkhimer Asphalt to fix a section of the parking lot at the police station, an area at Shepherd Avenue and Gearhart Street and to repair asphalt damaged by a water line break on Lieb’s Island.

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