MILLERSPORT – Mayor Dean Severance and council members presented Council President Pro Temp Dave Levacy with a plaque Tuesday night to thank him for his years of service on council.
Levacy was elected to a fouryear term as a Fairfield County Commissioner Nov. 6. He replaces Commissioner Judy Shupe who is retiring. Levacy is the first county commissioner from the lake area in memory.
Levacy submitted his resignation Tuesday night to be effective immediately. Two candidates – Dustin Bidwell and Eric Scher – applied to replace Levacy. Scher regularly attends council meetings, stating in his letter, “Fair warning; I will almost certainly be a royal pain in the neck at least half the time, so don’t vote for me unless you mean it.” He is helping Severance negotiate a long term lease with AT&T to use the water tower as a cell phone tower.
Bidwell is a Millersport High School graduate who entered the U.S. Army after graduating from Capital University. He had two deployments to Iraq before leaving the Army. He works with the Defense Logistics Agency in Columbus. He is also the head junior high football coach at Millersport.
Council members unanimously selected Bidwell to replace Levacy.
In other business Tuesday night, Severance said ODOT has completed its traffic study of the Lancaster and Main street intersection. Last fall, former Police Chief John Shirk started a process to address concerns about the school crosswalk at the intersections and the length of the school zone which confused drivers. That lead to turning the intersection into a four-way stop. Previously, Lancaster Street traffic didn’t stop at the intersection.
Some neighbors, lead by Everett Foltz and George Pettit quickly complained to council members about the noise from trucks and motorcycles accelerating after stopping at the intersection. In response, Severance asked ODOT to conduct a formal traffic study which hadn’t been done before installing the four-way stop.
ODOT will remove the fourway stop only if Walnut Township Local Schools starts a volunteer adult crosswalk guard program at the intersections, Severance reported.
“I’m hoping they will,” he added. The topic wasn’t discussed at the district’s Dec. 10 board meeting.
“I don’t like changing back and forth,” Council member and Safety Committee chair Gary Matheny said. “It causes mass confusion.”
“It is so darn loud,” neighbor George Pettit complained. “It is disturbing.”
Severance urged him to look at the full picture which is protecting elementary students crossing at the intersection. Pettit agreed that he didn’t want any children hurt.
“It’s not a done deal,” Severance concluded.
Police Chief Mark Consolo said the village’s new Neighborhood Watch program should start in about 30 days. A patrol vehicle has been donated and it will be marked like those used by the county’s Community Watch program. Consolo is looking for about eight more volunteers. He said Lt. Tim Voris, who commands the sheriff’s office Community Services Bureau, has volunteered to train the Neighborhood Watch volunteers.
Consolo asked Severance to issue the oath of office to Jeffrey Bingham who had been approved by the Safety Committee and to approve Robert Tischler’s promotion to corporal. Bingham is a Muskingum College criminal justice graduate and completed his police training at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. Approval of another new officer was delayed when he couldn’t make the Safety Committee meeting due to a family emergency.
Mayor’s assistant Vince Popo said a $28,000 check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is “in the mail” to reimburse the village for its extra expenses following the June 30 derecho and subsequent power outage.
Popo said fundraising to operate the pool next summer is underway with a $20 holiday football pool. He hopes to raise $10,000 to 15,000 for the pool. Other events include a car show, a drawing for a griller package, chicken dinner and poker run.
Council members also heard the first hearing of a resolution increasing wages for village employees. Full-time employees would receive a three percent increase while part-timers would get a two percent increase. The two part-time police officers would get a 10 percent raise from $10 to $11 per hour.
Another resolution restructuring compensation for the fire department was also heard for the first reading. Both resolutions, if approved would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012.