MILLERSPORT – Two resumes have been received from police officers seeking to replace Police Chief John Shirk, Mayor Dean Severance told council members Tuesday night.
Shirk submitted his resignation in an executive or closed session at the end of the April 10, council meeting. Friday, May 11, was to be his last day on the job. Tuesday night, Shirk said he would extend that to Friday, May 25. Most of this additional time will be spent completing departmental audits and assisting in the transition, he told council members.
Shirk was the village’s fulltime police chief for two years. The retired Columbus Division of Police officer has accepted an instructor’s position with a government contractor for the Marine Corps. He will continue to live here and will travel all over the country. In spite of all the travel, Shirk expects to have more time with his family, adding that he often worked 10-12 hours a day as chief. He was the catalyst that turned the village’s abandoned water treatment plant into a police station using almost exclusively donated materials and labor. Shirk believes the department is better now than when he came and hopes that it will continue to improve with the new chief.
“You can’t please everybody,” he said. “You’ve got to be a good fit and have a thick skin.”
Shirk, council members and Severance needed ‘thick skin’ Tuesday night as several Main and Lancaster Street residents complained about the recent addition of a four-way stop sign at that intersection. The primary complaint is about the noise from vehicles, particularly trucks and motorcycles, accelerating after stopping for the sign. “It is ridiculous the amount of noise these signs create,” George Pettit said. “You ought to come down and hear it,” Everett Foltz added. Several neighbors added that it is difficult to sit on their porch and carry on a conversation on a nice day when motorcycles are going through town.
Shirk said the new four-way stop is the result of concerns raised last fall about the school crosswalk at the intersection and the length of the school zone which confused drivers. The cross walk wasn’t even in the school zone that started west of Summerland Beach Road on Ohio 204. He drafted a letter to the Ohio Department of Transportation asking for a study and suggesting moving the southern boundary of the school zone around in front of Oak Creations, extending the zone’s northern boundary 300 feet and adding a four-way stop at the intersection of Main and Lancaster streets. Shirk took the letter first to village council members, then Walnut Township trustees and the Walnut Township Local School Board for their review and signatures. Council members, school board members and trustees all signed the letter. “This was a letter stating ‘we have a problem,’” Shirk explained. The decision to add the four-way stop was ODOT’s, he said, because Lancaster Street is a state highway.
His explanation didn’t mollify Foltz, Pettit or their neighbors. Several claimed that there haven’t been any accidents at the intersection and that few students use the cross walk anyway. They suggested that if the intersection is such a safety hazard then police should be there when students are using it. Police should also enforce noise regulations. One pointed out that vehicles are making noise there 24/7 and students are there for about an hour five days a week.
“If you thought you got your hair combed tonight, you haven’t heard anything yet,” Foltz told village officials.
“It was done for the safety of the kids,” Severance said. “We will talk to ODOT and give them input.” Council member Charles Mesko accepted an offer to come down and sit on a porch to see how loud it is.
In other business Tuesday night, Mayor’s Assistant Vince Popo reported that volunteers have nearly raised $5,000 for the one-to-one match for a $5,000 donation from an anonymous donor. Donations now total just over $4,100 after last Sunday’s chicken dinner host by Carol King and Bill Yates raised $2,073. Next up is a drawing for a large meat box from Bower & Sons Meat that includes 36 steaks. “They gave us a great deal on the meat,” Popo said. Tickets are just $1 and are available at the village office. The drawing is set for Sunday, June 24.
Council members unanimously approved the pool rates that were outlined in last week’s Beacon. New this year is an adult only (21 years of age and up) swim from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Popo said they will try a water aerobics class if there is interest. Shelly Price is returning as pool manager. Council members also approved the pay plan for pool employees which is the same as last year. Popo said the water leak is being repaired and the pool should open as scheduled on Saturday, June 2.
The pool faces another challenge to raise funds to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirement for a mechanical lift so disabled persons can get in and out of the water. The cost is estimated at $15,000. “We may get a waiver this year, Council President Dave Levacy said. “But eventually we will have to buy it.”
A three percent wage increase for hourly full-time village employees was also approved effective May 1. The four employees are Thomas Boso, Class II Water Operator; Sandra Line, Board of Public Affairs clerk; Susan Ramsey, Fiscal Officer; and Gilbert Arnold, Street Maintenance. Severance said the effect of the raise will be evaluated for a couple of months, then raises for part-time employees will be considered.
Fire Chief Matt Bergum said the new medic for the Fairfield Beach Fire Station has been ordered. It will be delivered late this year which gives the department time to enlarge a bay at the station to accommodate the larger vehicle. He said about $6,000 has been spent upgrading and repairing a surplus U.S. Forest Service tanker that Shirk found for the department. A grant will pay 50 percent of the cost up to $9,000.
Last month’s scheduled zoning meeting to prepare the village’s revised zoning ordinance for council’s review was cancelled when Severance had to go out of town. That meeting has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 4, at the village hall. It is open to the public.
Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, at the village hall.