HEBRON – Mayor Clifford Mason told The Beacon Tuesday night that Newark Fire Chief Jack Stickradt Jr. signed a Letter of Agreement to become the village’s second paid fire chief.
Mason said the agreement was reached in consultation with council members, but it must be formally approved by council members at their Wednesday, Oct. 8 meeting. If approved, Stickradt will start his new duties on Monday, Nov. 17. Stickradt was selected out of the second round of applications.
He is retiring from the Newark Fire Department after serving 35 years there. Stickradt has been chief for 16 years and was assistant chief for nine years. For 11 years, he supervised the overall operation of the county-wide 9-1-1 dispatch system in addition to his duties first as a fire captain and then assistant chief. The City of Newark has four fire stations and an authorized staffing level of 94 positions.
Stickradt will replace former Fire Chief Randy Weekly who retired July 18 after 42 years of service with the Hebron Fire Department. Randy’s brother, Assistant Fire Chief Marc Weekly, has been serving as acting fire chief.
Randy Weekly started as a volunteer firefighter in 1972 and became the department’s first full-time member as a firefighter/ paramedic in 1982. Ten years later, he became the department’s first full-time chief.
During his tenure, the department has moved from all volunteers to paid staff on station 24/7. Weekly recently guided the department through a much needed facility upgrade that was completed last year. The $1.2 million project came in under budget.
The station was expanded to the north, adding eight bunk rooms, a large kitchen/dining area and a lounge. The rest of the station that was first constructed on the site in 1954 was renovated.
Stickradt takes over a department that now has the relative security of a five-year contract that began Jan. 1 with Union Township to provide fire/EMS services to the portion of the township south of the Columbus and Ohio River railroad. In recent years, negotiations for annual contracts have been testy at times and the department was forced to take a $205,000 cut in 2013 from 2012 after the township ran out of money in its fire fund.
Township voters, which include Village of Hebron voters, approved an additional 1.5 mill levy last November that put the township’s fire fund on firmer footing. Contract payments are directly linked to levy receipts.
Stickradt will manage two grants that council members approved at their Sept. 24 meeting. Members unanimously accepted a Federal Emergency Management Agency SAFER Grant. SAFER stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response. The grant will provide a total of $652,280 for personnel over a two-year period beginning Jan. 1. Previous federal grants for public safety staff required the grantee to maintain the position after federal funding ended. Mason told council members that the new grant doesn’t require a village match nor retention of the additional employees if the village can’t afford them. Stickradt’s challenge will be to find local funding to maintain the positions after the two-year federal funding runs out.
Council members also unanimously accepted a $188,80 grant to upgrade the department’s radios. It requires a five percent local match.
In other business at the Sept. 24 council meeting, Mason reported that Kokosing Construction had completed the repair of the 30-some driveway aprons for the Kelly/Westview pavement project. He said milling the existing asphalt is scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. New asphalt will be installed on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 with Oct. 4 as a rain date if necessary.
“The job looks like what we expected,” Mason said. “I have every confidence that we have worked through the bugs.”
Council members unanimously agreed to release the first payment to Kokosing. Council members held the payment at their Sept. 10 meeting after more than a dozen residents complained about the quality of the new curbs and driveway aprons. Some aprons had curbs so high that vehicles were scraping the curb to get into driveways.
“The people coming in really helped,” council president and Kelly Drive resident Bob Gilbert added. “Yes, they (Kokosing) have done a great job.”
In his report, Village Administrator Ralph Wise reported that Bird+Bull have submitted a revised proposal to study recent flooding in the village. The original price of not to exceed $27,800 has dropped to not to exceed $20,000. The engineering firm discovered that some of the data that they expected to have to collect is already available.
He said one resident continues to live at the Maple Heights Trailer Park off Ohio 79. The owner evicted residents months ago and has finally begun cleaning up the debris left after some trailers were abandoned on the property.
During public comments, an East Main Street resident complained about juveniles riding ATV’s across streets and private property. Her complaint was prompted by a tragic accident during a motorcycle rally across from National Trail Raceway. An 11-year-old died after overturning an ATV. Mason asked her to call police immediately whenever she sees juveniles operating ATV’s on public property.
She also asked about reducing the 50 mph speed limit on U.S. 40 from the corporation limit to the Ohio 79 overpass. Mason told her that ODOT controls the speed limit on U.S. 40. “We can’t change anything on the state highways,” he explained.
Mason opened the meeting with a moment of silence for Margaret “Bickie” Walters who died Sept. 20. He called her “Hebron’s matriarch.”
Earlier he proclaimed Sept. 24 “William ‘Bill’ Wright Day in Hebron. It was Bill’s 70th birthday. He was honored for his service in the US Navy on the USS Henry Clay, his devotion to his family and his service to the Village of Hebron Board of Planning and Zoning and to American Legion Post 285.
Council members cancelled their meetings scheduled for Nov. 26 and Dec. 24. Council’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8 and will be held in the newly expanded and renovated Hebron Fire Station.