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Health department won’t ignore nuisances

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township Trustees spent some time at their July 27 meeting discussing what they termed ‘distressed properties’ – two in New Salem, and one each in Fairfield Beach and on North Bank.

Trustee President Sonny Dupler said he discussed the issue with Jennifer Valentine of the Fairfield County Health Department. He claimed she told him that the department’s precarious financial condition would keep them from assisting townships with nuisance properties.

Consequently, Dupler said they would have to ask the prosecutor’s office for direction. “Jason Dolan has to give you guidance,” zoning inspector Ralph Reeb said.

The Beacon
got a different answer to the same question. Environmental Health Director Larry Hanna told The Beacon,
“FDH will continue to investigate solid waste and sewage signed nuisances that have been signed by the complainant. Township trustees have in the past and should continue to deal with high grass/weeds in their townships. The FDH can/will require owners to remove solid waste/trash from properties. FDH will become involved with unsecure buildings within the limits of our jurisdiction. Township trustees have authority in ORC 505.86 to remove, repair or securance of insecure, unsafe buildings or structures.”

“I’m concerned that the New Salem properties are dangerous,” Trustee Terry Horn said. Neither are boarded up and parts of the floors and roofs have collapsed.

“Send a nice threatening letter,” Dupler suggested.

In other business July 27, Horn’s project to list road rightof ways on the township website needs some help from the county engineer’s office.

“We think we know what it is, but we want confirmation,” Horn explained. Both Larry and Janet Neeley questioned the project. “We’re just trying to give residents some information,” Horn replied. Larry Neeley likened it to opening Pandora’s Box, potentially requiring farmers to move back fence lines and/or crops.

“Maybe it is opening something that needs to be changed,” Larry Neeley said. Janet Neeley asked why they were told some 10 years ago that the right-of-way on Deep Cut Road was 10-15 feet from centerline and now they hear it is 30 feet. “It is a bunch of baloney,” she added.

Road supervisor Randy Kemmerer said part of Deep Cut Road has a 60 foot right-of-way while some of it is 30 feet.

Kemmerer reported that the Ruffner Road resurfacing project is complete. He thanked Violet Township for donating some 250 tons of asphalt grindings that the township used to build up the berms. The only cost was to haul them to the road.

Tree removal and utility pole relocations should soon be underway on the second phase of the Cherry Lane reconstruction project, Kemmerer said. The bid opening is August 13.

Trustees decided to roll over some nearly $125,000 in certificates of deposit for another year at the Bremen Bank. It’s 1.2 percent interest rate is the highest of the three banks checked.

Fiscal officer Lynn Kraner restarted a stalled update of the township’s employee manual. She recommended changing references to “clerk” to “fiscal officer.” Horn suggested some more changes and as discussion continued it became obvious that the manual needs a major overhaul. It was reportedly based on another entity’s manual and some key provisions don’t apply to Walnut Township.

Horn suggested changing the probationary period – which is also the waiting period to qualify for paid health insurance – from six months to 90 days. “You can do 90 days standing on your head,” Trustee President Sonny Dupler responded. “I’ve got to think on that.”

“I think we had better do the whole book,” Trustee Ralph Zollinger replied when Dupler asked for his opinion. “A lot of this could be dropped out,” Dupler added..

Horn suggested the items mentioned be flagged for future review. “It will be a work in progress.”

Trustees agreed to sell road salt at their cost of $63.07 per ton to the Villages of Buckeye Lake, Millersport and Pleasantville. Buckeye Lake is a new customer. It used to buy its salt from Union Township, but it’s Licking County neighbor ran out of salt last winter. A couple of residents objected to subsidizing Buckeye Lake Village. Kemmerer said the price is the same as last year.

Horn asked that a proposed contract with the Village of Thurston for the township to plow and salt village streets be tabled until trustees could review the specific contract and how charges were assessed last winter. The proposal was to do it at the same price as last year.

Trustees’ next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 10 at the township offices.

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