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Council agrees to seek $50,000 loan for new radio tower

BUCKEYE LAKE- Buckeye Lake Village is one step closer to having its own MARCS tower.

Monday night, a majority of council members approved a resolution of support for a loan application to the Local Government Innovation Fund for a MARCS radio tower. The village is seeking a $50,000 no-interest loan to buy a used MARCS radio The village may be able to repay the loan via savings on MARCS monthly service fees.

Mayor Clay Carroll said when the tower was discussed a couple months ago, he was asked to look into a contract with the MARCS system and make the application for the $50,000 loan. “We did those things,” he said.

Carroll said the loan program manager recently contacted Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Dave Ruton and said she needed a resolution of support from council to complete the loan application. She emailed Ruton on June 23 and he replied July 14. “We’re not committed to it until we sign the loan papers,” Carroll said.

Previously, council authorized Buckeye Lake Mayor Clay Carroll to enter into negotiations with Multi- Agency Radio Communications Service, or MARCS, to improve emergency services communications via a 180 feet tall radio tower, although council members still must approve any proposed contract for service.

The project includes a 10-feet by 20-feet building surrounded by a fence near the water tower if constructed in Buckeye Lake Village. The village must invest $50,000, which would eventually be reimbursed to the village through radio service credits.

Some council members prefer to see the tower located in Hebron to benefit the “greater good” of the surrounding coverage area, particularly the Lakewood School buildings and the industrial park. Council Member Peggy Wells has been quite outspoken about her preference to share the costs between Hebron, Union Township and Buckeye Lake.

Ruton said the proposed equipment is refurbished and a new MARCS tower would cost roughly $400,000.

Previously, Licking County Emergency Management Agency Director Sean Grady, said the village would eventually earn back the $50,000 investment through credits from the MARCS system billing; the village would not pay for MARCS service until it’s used up $50,000 worth of billing (or another negotiated amount).

Monday night, Carroll said the village does not have a contract from MARCS yet.

“Typically, the resolution is a normal part of the process and helps get the funding,” said council clerk Valerie Hans.

Wells apologized to Carroll because she said she didn’t realize he was also authorized to move forward with the loan when he was authorized to look into a contract. “I apologize for getting upset about that, thinking you were jumping ahead,” she said. However, Wells said she continues to oppose using village property for the tower and not sharing costs between surrounding entities. “I don’t want to give up the land,” she said.

“We need to approve the infrastructure of our village,” said council member Robert Masone. He said the village will be in a growth phase and needs to prepare for it. Masone does not want police to lose radio contact during pursuits and wants to support the police department. Also, Masone said other municipalities could lease tower service, which would provide income for the village. “I think this is an important step for our town,” he said. “It should work out.”

“I’m excited about this project,” said council member Doug Poorman. He said the village could earn the investment back through credits. “Hopefully, we can all be winners with this,” he said.

Council members voted in favor of the resolution, except for Wells, who opposed it, council member Arletta Ruton, who abstained, and council member Tom Wolfe was absent.

In other village news:

• Masone, who is also public safety committee chair, said he finally tracked down some useful information regarding air quality following the unintentional release of a huge plume of cement dust in late April, which coated properties in some of the cement intended for the refurbishment of the Buckeye Lake dam.

Masone said he contacted Stephanie Habinak, Ohio EPA’s air pollution control inspector who covers Licking County. He said she would continue to monitor air quality related to the cement bulk plants even though the one remaining plant is now located in Fairfield County. Masone said Habinak believes the Topcat concrete company now owns the plant, or at least holds its permit. She said the device is “inactive for now until the repairs they did have been tested.” Masone said if the device is sufficiently repaired, it’ll be returned to service in March 2017.

Masone said there is no way to monitor the air quality around the device constantly, but the procedure is to limit the release of cement dust, water down areas to suppress dust, and simply be careful to ensure an inadvertent release of cement doesn’t happen again.

Masone said he “hit many, many dead ends” in his search for information. He said the ODNR provided no assistance and dam project spokesperson Ian Nickey would only speak to him in person. Masone said Dave Ruton led him to Habinak. “He was the one who stuck with it,” and found someone with useful information,” Masone said.

Masone said all the knowledge he’s gained about air quality and toxic cement release is “but a fingernail of the knowledge” Buckeye Lake’s emergency services staff has on the subject. “They knew everything I’ve ever talked about with any of these officials,” Masone said. “I’m proud of them.”

• Summer lunch program coordinator Marianne Perine asked council for a follow-up to her request that the restrooms at Ryan-Braden Park remain open from dawn to dusk and be village maintained. She also requested replacement of four toddler swings.

Wells said the toddler swings were ordered, but the delivery cost was too high. So, the first order was canceled and they were reordered through another company. Council member Tim Ryan said he contacted someone about maintaining the restrooms for the village and was still working out the details.

Carroll said a cleaning person was willing to clean the restrooms once per week for roughly $125 per month, which seems reasonable. He suggested authorizing the cleaning person to begin as soon as paperwork is completed and not wait for another council meeting for approval.

• Carroll said he spoke with a Time Warner cable representative who told him the company’s executive resolution team agreed to reimburse the village $5,800 it paid Time Warner following a phone hacking incident. “It’ll probably be a credit to our account,” he said.

Carroll agreed to pay about $5,800 in February after someone hacked into the village’s telephone system and ran up a $16,000 bill for international calls in November. He said the April payment of $5,818.39 was necessary to keep Time Warner from shutting down phone and internet service.

• The village will open a fire hydrant on Second Street near Ryan-Braden Park from noon to 2 p.m., Friday, July 29. This is a test of Operation Cooldown.

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