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CODE detectives will help Buckeye Lake fight drugs

BUCKEYE LAKE – New Buckeye Lake Village Mayor Peggy Wells told council members Monday night that Central Ohio Drug Enforcement (CODE) detectives will conduct overt drug interdiction operations in the village and train local officers in their techniques.

The Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force was founded in 1992. It now consists of Licking, Muskingum, Perry, Coshocton and Knox counties. In Licking County, the Task Force is comprised of Detectives from the Newark Police Department and the Licking County Sheriff’s Office for a total of 10 full time Detectives assigned to narcotics.

CODE regularly works with the DEA, BCI and other agencies involved with major crimes. Each county has their own specialist in fields such as interdiction, cell phone analysis, long term investigations, RX diversion, undercover tactics, marijuana grow operations and meth lab clean ups.

Wells told council members she heard a lot of complaints about open drug dealing and drug houses as she campaigned door-to-door last fall. Soon after she took office, she met with Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp and CODE Commander Lt. Paul Cortright, asking for their help in battling drug trafficking. Wells said both were very supportive.

Cortright said CODE detectives will conduct overt interdiction operations in the village and train local officers how to conduct them on their own.

Wells also told council members that she has meet separately with the fire and police chiefs to outline her directives and expectations for 2018. For the police department, she told Police Chief Jimmy Hanzey to stop what she termed revenue-based traffic enforcement efforts where officers spend hours monitoring the speed of vehicles entering and leaving the village limits or watching isolated stop signs to see if drivers come to a complete stop. The time spent focusing on revenue-based traffic enforcement will now be spent on drug interdiction activities. Traffic violations that the threaten the safety of pedestrians, school bus passengers or other drivers will continue to be strictly enforced, she told council members. Wells said Hanzey enthusiastically accepted the change in focus.

Wells said residents can anonymously report drug houses or sales to CODE’s Drug Tip Line at 740-349-4TIP, on CODE’s website at, to her or the Buckeye Lake Police at 740- 928-0999.

In other business Monday night, council members unanimously approved a water rate hike on the three reading. The basic water rate per EDU (first 2,000 gallons) increases to $35.25 per month in 2018, $36.14 in 2019, $37.07 in 2020, $38.02 in 2021 and $39.01 in 2022. Each additional 1,000 gallons per month will cost $9.95 in 2018, $10.45 in 2019, $10.70 in 2020, $11.00 in 2021 and $11.30 in 2022. The seasonal off users flat rate per month from November through April will be $15.75 for the 2018- 2022 period. Late fees will be the greater of $5 or 10 percent of the unpaid balance.

Council members also unanimously authorized the mayor and treasurer to sign a contract with ADR & Associates of Newark for design and engineering services for the full depth reclamation of Hunts Landing Road. Water Supervisor Toby Miller reported that he had received confirmation a few hours earlier that the village had been awarded an Ohio Public Works Commission grant of $357,795 to completely rebuild the roadway. The village’s match is $18,850 plus the engineering costs.

The funds won’t be available until July 1, but Miller wants to get the design work done as soon as possible so the project can be bid early in the construction season for the best prices.

After some discussion on whether a $300 invoice for the village’s annual contribution to the Licking County Humane Society should first be referred to the Finance Committee for review, council members accepted Finance Committee chair Tom Wolfe’s suggestion to let it go directly to a vote. Council members unanimously agreed to pay it for the services of a humane agent.

Council members also discussed lease terms for a prospective new owner of the Lake Drive-Thru. The new owners want a three-year lease with an exclusive option for another three years. Finance Committee members who had discussed it in a committee meeting before the council members initially recommended a two year lease with an option for two more. Council members don’t want to tie up the property for more than four years given the development opportunities expected once the dam project is finished.

As discussion continued, some council members favored a year to year lease with no guarantee of renewal. Wolfe said such a short term lease would not allow a new owner to amortize the cost of the equipment. ‘We need to keep the business going,” Council President Kitty Zwissler reminded council members. Before the discussion stopped, Council member Bob Masone MD was proposing a month to month term

Rent is expected to be $1,000 a month in the initial term increasing perhaps to $1,200 in the renewal term. Wells later reminded council members in an email that the more than $50,000 in lease income over the next four years would help the village meet it matching and engineering cost contributions on several possible ODOT grants. No decision was made Monday night and the Finance Committee is continuing to discuss it.

Public Service Committee chair Arletta Ruton said the committee is recommending that council approve the stormwater utility ordinance. The proposed cost per equivalent residential unit (ERU) would be $4 per month. A single family homeowner would pay $48 per year. Miller believes there would be a total of 2,101 ERU’s, generating $8,404 per month or $100,848 annually. Council is expected to hear the first reading at its next meeting.

Fire Chief Pete Leindecker was absent due to illness. His report showed 43 EMS and 14 Fire runs in December. Totals for 2017 were 697 EMS and 164 Fire runs.

During her report, Zwissler announced that a request for a $900,000 allocation in the state Capital Improvements Bill has been submitted with strong area support. It would fund a $1 million, 300 foot long pier at the North Shore that could have a restaurant on the end.

During public comments, Planning Commission chair Karen Cookston suggested the village consider adopting an alarm fee as some other communities do. Assistant Fire Chief Dave Ruton added that some communities charge a per run fee for alarm drops . He suggested that both could generate some revenue for the safety departments.

Zwissler asked Dave Ruton who he was videotaping the meeting for. He told her let’s say it is for me. Wells said the filming didn’t bother her.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, February 12 at the village hall.

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