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Buckeye Lake hires development director

BUCKEYE LAKE- Planning Commission member Mike Cassidy was hired as part-time Buckeye Lake Development Director, Mayor Rick Baker announced at Monday night’s scheduled village council meeting. Only two members of the council, Arletta Ruton and council President Charlene Hayden, were present.

“(Cassidy’s) heart is really with the village. His number one responsibility is to clean up the homes on the list,” said Baker, referring to a list of derelict homes to be demolished when funding is available. “Mike’s number two thing to do is business development. I like the mom and pop type places.” Baker said Cassidy is retired and is willing to take a part-time position that’s economical for the village. “That’s what we needed,” he said. “A lot of it is public relations work.”

“My wife and I bought a cottage here in 1995 and moved here permanently in 2006,” said Cassidy. “So, in 17 years I’ve seen many changes to our village, but I have a feeling that the next few years will bring many more.” He said his goal is to promote a “friendly” atmosphere for both individuals and businesses that want to be part of the community. “Our needs are many,” said Cassidy, “like replacing some eyesore properties with some good affordable housing, a pharmacy, and a hospital presence similar to Millersport.

As the old saying goes, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution; I’ll try hard to be part of the solution.”

Baker hopes the village can resume demolishing uninhabitable homes soon because Ohio was awarded $75 million, through a Moving Ohio Forward Grant program, of which Licking County received $1,029,355, to be used toward demolishing uninhabitable abandoned residences. The City of Newark is administrating the grant.

“Buckeye Lake will get a share of this,” said Newark Department of Community Development grant writer Barbara Gilkes, who as of Tuesday didn’t know exactly how much money Buckeye Lake Village would receive. She said this grant is not the same as an earlier neighborhood stabilization grant that paid for some demolitions in 2010.

In other council news:

• Five council members weren’t present Monday night, but Baker claimed that according to the charter, the meeting still goes forward. No votes could be taken. Baker said at least three members – Patrick Brighton, Clay Carroll, and Gerry Neff – were out of town or had unavoidable obligations. He didn’t believe a tense meeting April 23 caused members to boycott the May 14 meeting out of protest.

The controversial new water supervisor position wasn’t discussed. Baker plans to move part-time water tech Toby Miller into the new full-time supervisor position. Some residents and council members have objected to the $45,000 starting salary. Miller would be the village’s highest paid employee. The position was approved by a 4-3 vote at the April 23 meeting. Baker said Miller took the Class 1 operator’s license test May 10 and is awaiting the results. Ohio EPA requires the license to operate a water system. “Although he feels confident that he passed the test, I understand that he will not get the results until June,” said Baker. “The goal is to start him at full-time around the first of July.”

During the May 14 meeting, former council member Peggy Wells questioned some village council and administration members’ assertion that the reason Miller has a delinquent balance on his own water bill is because his account is used to test the billing system, payment plans, and late fees.

• Resident Donna Braig is unhappy a previous administration renamed her section of North Bank Road to “West North Bank Road,” and asked for the entire road to be called North Bank Road. “The street’s been North Bank for 100 years,” said Braig, a Buckeye Lake historian. She didn’t understand why roughly 25 houses on the road had to deal with a different name. “It really hit home,” she said, when she didn’t receive a Mother’s Day package because the delivery service couldn’t find her house.

“The name of the street is North Bank, not West North Bank; it’s all the same,” said Buckeye Lake Fire Captain Dave Ruton. However, the village posted a sign calling Braig’s section West North Bank Road.

Hayden said the village could prepare legislation to change Braig’s section of the road. Doing so may involve collection signatures of permission from the rest of the West North Bank Road residents.

“Why should I get everyone’s permission to put it back to what it was for 100 years,” said Braig. Hayden said she would collect the signatures if necessary.

• Garage Sale weekend is June 8 through 10. During this weekend, residents can hold garage sales without paying for a village permit.

• Hayden said she and Baker attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Leads Buckeye Lake Food Pantry, which is in the former Buckeye Lake Library location on West 1st Street. She said Leads is developing plans to address affordable housing in the village. Hayden said the food pantry could still use volunteers and those interested should inquire at the pantry.

• This year’s Buckeye Lake Fest will be at Ryan/Braden Park June 24. “It’s going to be a very, very nice day for the community,” said John Sproat, festival coordinator. “It’s all for kids, all for families.”

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