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Meeting set to discuss fire protection options

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township Trustees have unanimously agreed to host a meeting to discuss fire department consolidation.

Newly elected Trustee Terry Horn brought up the suggestion earlier this month. Mayors from Buckeye Lake, Millersport, Pleasantville and Thurston will be invited to the Thursday, March 4 meeting in the Millersport High School Cafeteria. The Millersport and Thurston-Walnut Township fire chiefs have also been invited and the Buckeye Lake chief will accompany Mayor Rick Baker. The president of the Fairfield Beach Property Owners Association has also been invited. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.

Trustee President Sonny Dupler made it clear that he doesn’t favor a fire district. “We as the township do not advocate a fire district,” he said. “We are only discussing options.”

Fire ombudsman Billy Phillips volunteeed to be a neutral party and moderate the discussion after Horn asked for his advice on how to run the meeting. Horn’s motion to appoint Phillips moderator for the meeting was unanimously approved.

Dupler’s sniping at Millersport Fire Chief Bill Yates continues. Yates and Thurston-Walnut Township Chief Jim Hite are listed by name on the trustees’ meeting agenda. When he came to Yates’ name under committee reports, Dupler said, “Chief Yates didn’t sign in, so he can’t speak.” Yates didn’t protest or try to speak.

Robert Slater II brought up the issue in public comments, first asking if Hite had signed in. He had. He asked if township road worker Tim Morris, who also serves as parks commissioner, had signed in. He hadn’t and didn’t have to, according to Dupler, because he is a township employee. Township secretary Karen Kentosh also didn’t have to sign in.

“We need to have a better policy,” Slater said. “It’s been our policy for years gone by,” Dupler claimed. “It is just it.”

“Any person listed on our agenda should have a platform to speak,” Horn added. “My personal feeling is we’re not bending the rules for anyone person,” Dupler responded.

Horn moved that anyone on the agenda has the right to speak. His motion failed for a lack of a second.

In other business Tuesday night, Dupler announced that 77 applications have been received for the full-time worker position. Trustees unanimously approved a job description, then differed on the salary. “We’ve had a $10 hour starting rate for some time,” Dupler said. Horn asked what other townships were paying for similar work. Ety said she hadn’t done a wage survey for some time. Trustee Ralph Zollinger moved to set starting pay at $10 per hour. It was approved 2-1, with Horn dissenting.

Trustees also set a special meeting for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3 to interview candidates for the vacant alternate position on the township zoning commission. Candidates will be scheduled at 15 minute intervals.

Dupler reported that the former Phoenix Recycling facility on Ohio 37 at the railroad tracks recently sold for $52,000 in a sheriff’s sale. The buyer, according to Dupler, is a Baltimore area resident in the trucking business who plans to use it as a maintenance facility. He reportedly plans to retain the building, but will reroof it.

Morris reported he found the shop door open early Monday morning and discovered that a computer in the office that should have been off was on. Everything on the computer, including the operating system, is gone. Morris is trying to piece together his park grant files.

Trustees hope the computer can be repaired and Horn suggested buying a portable hard drive to regularly back up all township computers. Dupler suggested rekeying all the locks on the building. Locks will be rekeyed.

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