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Potato plant now planning to open in July

BALTIMORE – Mayor Robert Kalish had good news for council members at their May 28 meeting. He reported that the long delayed reopening of the potato processing facility in the old ‘box plant’ next to the paper mill is now set for July.

Nearly two years ago in September 2011, Green Gourmet Foods of Ohio LLC, announced that it planned to reopen the former Fresh Vegetable Technology facility to produce microwaveable potato products. Fresh Vegetable Technology had ceased operations several months earlier, costing about 40 jobs.

In 2011, Green Gourmet promised to create 123 jobs in exchange for a 45 percent, six-year tax credit. Kalish didn’t provide a job creation estimate, but said the firm will receive state incentives for job creation.

Job seekers are advised to sit tight as Green Gourmet will advertise when it will begin accepting applications for employment.

During public comments, Gayle McCreery explained a new outreach program sponsored by the Baltimore/Thurston Ministerial Association. “Good Neighbors in the Village” is supported by a grant from the United Methodist Community Ministries and Christ United Methodist Church, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, New Zion United Methodist Church, St. Michaels United Church of Christ, Thurston United Methodist Church and Trinity United Church of Christ.

Services available both in the Baltimore and Thurston areas include:

• Visits to shut-ins and others due to age, disability and ill health;

• Home care helps such as minor repair work, yard work, snow shoveling and ramp building;

• Transportation to medical appointments and local errands;

• Volunteers in the schools;

• Community enrichment activities such as Bible study, caroling and community activities; and

• Referral to other community agencies for needs beyond the scope of the new group. They will not provide monetary assistance.

Persons seeking assistance should call 2-1-1, Fairfield County’s Information and Referral Service. Volunteers are needed to provide the services as well as additional monetary contributions. Contact any one of the five participating churches if you can help. Church membership is not a requirement to participate.

McCreery said the group is also part of the RampXchange program that provides help to build, install and reuse wheelchair ramps. One set of temporary ramps are now available.

Good Neighbors are also offering a Community Lunch Program for Baltimore children ages 4-17 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through August 1 at Christ United Methodist Church, 700 S. Main St. The free lunches will be available between noon and 12:45 p.m. Permission slips must be completed. Lunches for senior citizens are available on Wednesdays. Thurston United Methodist Church is offering lunches on Tuesdays and Thursday. Call 862-6943 for more information.

In his report, Village Administrator Scott Brown said Farm Credit Services has closed on its purchase of property on the west side of Ohio 37, just south of Ohio 256. The borrower-owned lending institution that provides loans, leases and related services to farmers, rural homeowners and agribusinesses expects to have up to 50 employees. The village extended water and sewer lines to the site.

That waterline extension prompted a suit from the Village of Thurston which has served some water customers – with bulk purchased water from Baltimore – along Ohio 256 that are outside the Village of Baltimore corporate limits. Thurston recently dismissed its suit to focus on building its own water treatment plant to go into service next year when its long standing contract with Baltimore for water expires.

Kalish distributed a May 23 letter from he and Council President Judy Landis to the Fairfield County Commissioners, updating them on the waterline extension. The letter asserts that Baltimore asked commissioners in March to approve the waterline extension just as a matter of courtesy. Commissioners didn’t approve the extension, but the letter says “as a matter of law, the Commissioners’ approval is not required.”

Kalish and Landis write that the waterline is now in service, serving several post-1986 customers and improving fire protection for all residents along Ohio 256 since the new line operates at higher pressure and is more reliable than the ‘obsolete line’ serving Thurston.

The letter says one issue is still unresolved which is the county’s refusal to approve a lot split for property owned by Wagner Rentals, LLC at the southwest corner of Ohio 256 and Ohio 37. “This refusal is hampering economic development,” the letter states, asking that the pending lot split be immediately approved.

In legislative actions, council members unanimously suspended the three-reading rule to award a contract to Wichert Insurance Services, Inc. for liability and property insurance. The premium increased $1,300 a year after village officials discovered that there wasn’t collision coverage on a dump truck nor coverage on a mausoleum. Limits for employee theft were also increased.

Council members also heard the first reading of two ordinances. 2013-21 vacates a portion of an unopened 17 foot wide alley east of Hansbarger Avenue while still retaining a 10 foot easement for possible future utility extensions. Every abutting property owner signed the petition for the vacation. Council member Tony House asked if it is “Hansberger” which appears on his deed or “Hansbarger” which is the spelling in the ordinance. Village Solicitor Jeff Feyko will check for the legal spelling before the third reading.

Ordinance 2013-22 clears up questions about the intent of the tap and capacity fees for water and sewer service. “We just cleaned it all up basically,” Brown explained. “It makes us more competitive,” Kalish added. A typical 3/4 inch residential water line would be charged $2,980 for water capacity charges and $4,100 for sewer capacity charges.

Council members heard the second reading of an ordinance banning commercial or heavy vehicle parking on a 150 foot portion of the south side of Water Street in front of the new Bope Warehouse Park. Members unanimously approved the third reading of a resolution establishing that small park. The property recently was donated to the village. Two Boy Scouts working on their Eagle community projects will be building benches and tables.

Two ordinances were also unanimously adopted on their third readings. 2013-11 allows “no thru truck” signs to be erected on Granville Street at the intersection of Granville and Cliff streets and on Cliff Street at the intersection of Main and Cliff streets.

2013-13 adds an additional $5 annual license tax on motor vehicles registered at addresses within the Village of Baltimore. The tax would be effective Jan. 1, 2014. Council members took action after county commissioners proposed a similar increase that would apply county-wide.

“If we don’t enact the $5 (fee), the county will enact it and it will all go to the county,” House explained after its first reading. The fee is limited to a maximum of $20 per year which has now been reached by both the county and Baltimore.

At their May 13 meeting, council members unanimously suspended the three reading rule to adopt an emergency ordinance allowing the village administrator to enter into a contract with Schaffner’s Drive-In to operate the pool’s concession stand this season.

Kalish also congratulated Police Chief Michael Tussey for completing six years of service to the village.

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