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Kirkersville approves water ordinance

KIRKERSVILLE – The Kirkersville Village Council passed an ordinance to begin the first phase of an agreement for public water with the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District, but a referendum may dry it up.

The ordinance passed four votes to two during the Feb. 6 council meeting, with council members Gary Raines and Erika Mudd voting against it. The ordinance allows the village to enter into an agreement with Southwest Licking to provide public water only to Phase I–properties along SR 158, including the Flying J Truck Stop, Phantom Fireworks, Kirkersville Elementary School, and several parcels proposed for development. The businesses and developers would pay for the majority of the Phase I infrastructure.

Village Engineer Gary Silcott was clear that the ordinance only approved Phase I and allowed Southwest Licking to drop the district’s $4,500 tap fee for anyone else in the village who eventually may want public water.

In order for the village to enter into Phase II, which would provide public water to the rest of the village, council would need to pass a separate ordinance.

“This is probably the best contract I’ve ever seen negotiated,” said Silcott. “I see a bunch of positives, but not a whole lot of negatives. I think it’s a pretty good deal for you.”

Not everyone agreed. Kirkersville landlord Theresa Green asked for a copy of the Phase I ordinance. She intends to exercise her right to referend the ordinance within 30 days of its passage.

“They’re referending something that’s not going to cost them a dime,” said Silcott after the meeting. “They think we’re going to shove water down their throats. They’re just keeping the water away from the people who want it.”

Green said Tuesday that Phase I of anything is usually followed by Phase II. She fears that Kirkersville will expand quickly in the same manner as Pickerington or Pataskala if public water is available and she would like Kirkersville to remain a small town. The local schools are already crowded, said Green, and available public water would only attract development and make the schools even more crowded. When asked if she could raise enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot she said, “I think I won’t have any problem at all.”

In other council news:

• Mayor Terry Ashcraft questioned the validity of former Mayor Bennie Evans’ appointment to council. Ashcraft, who was mayor previously, defeated incumbent Evans in the November 2007 election. However, Evans was appointed to council to fulfillthe two remaining years of former council member Bobbi Miller’s term. Miller and her family moved out of state at the beginning of the year.

Kirkersville Solicitor Deborah Kenney said previously that Miller’s letter of resignation suggested Evans replace her, and council agreed. Kenny said village councils have 30 days to appoint whomever they choose to fill council vacancies. Since Evans was no longer mayor as of Jan. 1 and Miller’s resignation was effective Dec. 31, there’s no law that prevented appointing Evans to council once Miller’s position was open, she said.

Ashcraft said during the meeting that council appointed Evans Dec. 5 even though Miller’s posi tion wasn’t open until Dec. 31. “You can’t appoint until it becomes vacant,” said Ashcraft.

Council member Brian Denton said that Miller’s resignation was accepted Dec. 5, but it wasn’t effective until Dec. 31 and Evans’ appointment wasn’t effective until Jan. 1.

“This looks like a quibble of words to me,” said Kenney.

Ashcraft asked Kenney to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for an opinion. Kenny didn’t think the attorney general rendered such opinions about municipalities; the county prosecutor is the likely source.

• Crossway Community Church Pastor Glen Gram proposed purchasing the Kirkersville Village Hall. Currently, the Crossway Community Church holds Sunday services in the Village Hall and leases the space from Kirkersville.

Raines was willing to discuss it, but Kenney said the Village Hall would probably need to be placed on public auction, as opposed to selling it to a specific buyer. Selling the building has not been formally discussed.

• Ashcraft said the village could use a new service truck. The existing truck, which is equipped to spread salt and plows roads, is rusting and not operating well. Council Clerk Johnny Adkins said Wednesday that he estimates a new truck would cost approximately $28,000. An option for the village, he said, is to purchase a smaller truck and have Harrison Township take care of major plowing.

• The village’s insurance company was unaware of how many police auxiliaries were patrolling. Adkins said Wednesday that technically the auxiliaries weren’t insured “for a period” and it’s a situation that needed immediate correction. “We know what we have to do,” he said. During the Feb. 6 council meeting Police Chief Robert Chamberlain said an ordinance exists to enact drug testing for auxiliaries, but council hasn’t addressed it.

• Brian Casto, owner of Brian’s Mowing service, was hired to mow village grass twice a week at a rate of $175 per month.

• Adkins said the owners of Scott’s Antiques, which regularly displays antiques at the Ohio State Fair, have discussed purchasing some of the “Van Buren property” near I-70 to create permanent sales space. Discussion is in an early stage, he said.

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