THORNVILLE – Village Council members said during their May 23 meeting they are prepared to reach an agreement with the Thorn Township Trustees regarding sale of the old Thornville-Thorn Township fire station in downtown Thornville and they hope the solution will convince the Thorn Township Fire Department to re-integrate “Thornville” into its title. When the building was previously attempted to be sold, it was found that both the village and township own the building jointly, which negated the sale.
Renner explained that council is proposing a plan to donate the village’s portion of the proceeds of the sale back to the Thorn Township Fire Department. “We are asking that the name be changed back to Thorn Twp – Thornville Fire Department as it was intended back when the old firehouse building was built,” he said. “The Thorn Township Trustees haven’t provided us with a thumbs up or down. I think they just haven’t had time yet to discuss. I’d like to see it resolved because I think it’s clear the intent was to use the land and building for the fire department. That money goes back to both the residents of the township and the village in the form of services, equipment and people. It’s a good cause.”
Patrick said the village isn’t asking the Thorn Township Fire Department to change the name on its building and equipment immediately, since that would be prohibitively expensive. The village is asking the department to use the name whenever it replaces equipment or moves to a new facility.
Administrator Beth Patrick said from what she understands, the fire department dropped Thornville from its title when the village stopped donating money to the township. She believes the village stopped donating money when a fire levy went into effect around 1960.
In other business from the May 23 meeting:
• Former council clerk Sharon Brussee said she asked council member Olivia Newbold to return 52 pages of copies she made of various village information to be sure there was no original material mistakenly in the copies and all originals were returned to their rightful places. “This is a pretty straightforward request,” Brussee said. “I don’t want the village to suffer liability because we failed to review it.” She said the standard procedure is for council members to ask the clerk to retrieve information and make copies for them. Brussee said she made three requests to Newbold over three months but she still had not fulfilled the request. She was clear she didn’t want to keep the copies, just review them.
“Has (Danielle Lovett, the current council clerk) not seen a list of what was copied?” Newbold said.
“I do need to see the copies that you have just to make sure there are no originals and to make sure everything was put back right,” Lovett said.
Council President Heidi Robinson said she’d made copies herself previously, but agreed no one but the clerk should be taking out pages to copy from the book of ordinances.
“This literally should take five minutes,” village Solicitor Brian Zets said.
Newbold said any questions Zets has should be directed to her attorney. Zets said he spoke to her attorney. “We came to no resolution,” he said. “This is overblown. Just compare the documents with the originals and be done with it.”
Sharon Brussee agreed. “This should be an easy fix,” she said. “It’s not a good use of village funds. Please just turn it over.”
Rick Brunner, an attorney representing Newbold sent The Beacon the following statement on his client’s behalf. He said, “Our firm has a sub-concentration of our practice in the representation of elected public officials. Olivia Newbold comes from a distinguished line of public servants, most notably her grandparents, Judge Charles (deceased) and Carolyn Petree. I’ve asked the village’s counsel by voice mail and in email transmitted (Thursday, May 12) for any legal reason why Ms. Newbold can not have the copies she made herself and for which she paid for out of her own pocket. No response has been forthcoming and quite clearly the putative concerned individuals can tell whether any originals are missing from the list copies she’s provided to them.
Brunner continued, “This is just another instance of ‘freshman hazing by the upperclassman clique’ on the village council. The clique’s real agenda is about control and making sure Ms. Newbold knows her place as they dictate it. Ms. Newbold, as a contentious and serious public servant, has once again carefully sought legal counsel at her own expense to deal with the frivolous hazing over non-issues.”
• Council members approved sending information regarding a proposed five-mill police levy to the county auditor to generate actual numbers for the levy. “This isn’t to put it on the ballot,” council member Dale Brussee said. “This is going to the auditor.”
“This is just setting our numbers now,” Robinson said. Council members said once the auditor reviews the information, residents will have exact figures about how much money the levy would generate and exactly how much it will cost per $100,000 home valuation.
• Patrick said beginning with August’s sewer bill, residents will find that basic sewer rates have dropped from $38 to $30 per month. This is because of a reduction in the interest rate for the OWDA loan the village currently has on its books.
• Debate hatched during the May 23 meeting as council member Mary Renner defended her and her husband’s (Mayor Gavin Renner) ownership of two chickens as domesticated pets, which some believe violates an ordinance against housing livestock within the village limits. The following is a continuation of Mayor Renner’s comments that could not be accommodated in last week’s edition of The Beacon:
“Drive down any back-alley in town and you’ll see an old chicken coop,” said Renner in an email statement.
“My dad was a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer, I’m sure my family has farm roots that stretch back to the ark. It’s dumb from my family’s point of view to keep people from producing their own food as this is a basic human need and right. Why would the United States of America, one of the top agriculture powerhouses in the world prohibit food production for personal use? Why would Thornville? This is why certain property owners choose to detach their property from the village. And, I don’t blame them for making us spend the money to do so.
“Personally I believe that individuals should be able to produce food for their own consumption in a manner that doesn’t impact their neighbor’s health, safety and welfare. An animal, managed appropriately, is not much different than having a vegetable garden. However, it’s much easier to mismanage animals and there are barriers in the size/containment of the animal. For instance, I would never condone having a cow or horse on a tenth of an acre in the center of town. Even though our house has a horse barn and there were horses kept there at one point, it’s inhumane to keep a large animal that needs large amounts of space for grazing, waste control and exercise on a postage-stamp sized property.”