MILLERSPORT – If you are heading into Millersport from the north on Millersport Road you’ll need to slow down earlier.
It took nearly a year, but Fairfield County has now turned over about two tenths of a mile of Millersport Road to the village. That’s means the village limits will be moved north from Lynn Avenue by the car wash to the bridge over Feeder Creek. The county will retain responsibility for bridge maintenance.
After considerable discussion Tuesday night, village council members unanimously approved a resolution moving the village limits to the bridge, extending the Lancaster Street name to that point and setting a 35 mph speed limit from the new corporate limit to the old one. Previously, motorists could speed by the strip center at 55 mph and then slam on the brakes to observe the 25 mph limit that started at the old village limits. That 25 mph limit will not be changed.
Once the new signs go up, Police Chief John Shirk said violators will be warned for the first 30 days. After that, speeders can expect to be ticketed. Shirk wants to get a message board to warn drivers about the change. He also plans to talk to the county about getting a “35 mph ahead” sign on Millersport Road. Shirk will also ask the county to extend the village’s new 35 mph limit further north on Millersport Road to slow traffic approaching the dangerous Lieb’s Island Road intersection.
The change in ownership now means the village will have to address the issue of obstructions – business signs, parking spaces and a guard rail – in the road’s east side right-of-way. The county engineer’s office recently became more aggressive, particularly in areas with 55 mph limits, in removing obstacles from its rightof way. That effort will now go to the village’s zoning board.
In other business Tuesday night, Mayor Dean Severance appointed council members Dave Levacy and Shane Wise and Fire Chief Bill Yates to represent the village in negotiation with the township on the fire contract. “We’re going to start with a blank sheet,” Levacy said. “We’re going to do everything we can before we go to an arbitrator.” Council members unanimously authorized paying arbitration expenses. The village gave the township the names of three potential arbitrators including a retired Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge, a retired Gallia County Common Pleas Court judge and a retired Federal District Court judge. Fees start at about $200 per hour.
Yates supplemented his report after some observers came to the council meeting from the concurrent Walnut Township Trustees’ meeting. He reported that Trustee President Sonny Dupler moved to accept Thurston’s $412,000 budget for next year. Trustee Terry Horn countered that they couldn’t accept Thurston’s budget without first reviewing Millersport’s budget and contract proposal. Dupler’s motion died for lack of a second.
It was also reported that Dupler said he would never agree to the village’s request for 65 percent of the fire levy income nor does he want a four year agreement. Several council members commented that this is why they wanted binding arbitration on the contract. That means the arbitrator will make the final decision, not Dupler.
Yates also reported that the fire department is combining their visit with Santa with the annual downtown Christmas parade. The Saturday, Dec. 4 parade will now continue to the fire station where children can meet Santa.
Shirk reported that the equipment and procedures for soliciting donations at the traffic light are now in place. A minimum 14 day to the police department is required. All solicitors in this street must be at least 18 years old and wear a provided reflective vest. Magic Needle donated six vests, Shirk reported. Traffic cones and signs will also be used to alert drivers.
Police officers worked 760.95 hours in September up from 625.55 hours in August and 341.5 in May when he took over. Shirk is the only full-time officer. There are two part-time paid officers and 12 reserve or unpaid officers. Nine applications to be reserve officers are now under review.
Trick or treat is set for 6 – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28. A walking parade from the elementary school sets off at 5:30 p.m. for the downtown area. The police department will have two cruisers and two bikes patrolling the village during the event. Officers will also have a booth at Watson’s Valero where they will be passing out candy and helping parents create an ID passport for their children that includes fingerprints.
Assistant fiscal officer Vince Popo delivered some bad news on the pool finances. Revenues were up from last year to $31,276, but expenses totaled $47,640. Memberships were down this year, but daily admissions increased. This year’s deficit will be covered by the income from boat dock rentals along the canal. “We need to look at this in Finance (Committee),” Levacy said. Popo, a major pool supporter and volunteer, said he didn’t have any answers at this point. The single biggest cost is labor for lifeguards and concession workers at $24,000.
Acknowledging that she might be “opening a can of worms,” council member Donna Thogmartin is concerned about how fast some vehicles travelling east on Ohio 204 head into Watson’s when they have a green light. Her primary concern is elementary school students walking across the entrance to the station aren’t watching or expecting vehicles to be coming through the light and into the station. “It needs to be looked at,” she said.
Two finance committee meetings have been scheduled. The Oct. 19 meeting is to discuss Board of Public Affairs wages and the village’s pledge to Lancaster Transit to extend the on-call van service county-wide. The Nov. 1 meeting will review water rates.
Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday,