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Steeple buyer finds trustees

UNION TOWNSHIP – Maybe it was a miracle!

Shortly before Union Township Trustees were going to donate the steeple that used to adorn the new township complex on Beaver Run Road, a buyer appeared. Bishop Craig Cook, senior pastor of the Spirit Life Fellowship church of Dunbar, West Virginia, agreed to purchase the steeple for $500, which was the minimum bid set by trustees when they attempted to sell it via an auction. No one submitted a bid by the auction deadline.

Union Township Administrator

Paula Greene said during Monday night’s township meeting that Cook contacted the township, saying he regretted missing the deadline for the auction and his church, which looks like a converted school building, really needs the steeple. “We have the check in hand,” said Greene. “It’s going to West Virginia.”

Trustees were ready to take the necessary steps to donate the steeple to anyone who wanted it after the no bid February auction. Greene said the Licking County Prosecutor’s office confirmed that trustees were free to switch course and now sell it. Trustee President John Slater expects someone from Spirit Life Fellowship to pick it up this week.

In other township news:

• The township is a step closer to moving its police department into the Union Township Complex from its current location on Refugee Road. Trustees met in executive session (closed to the public) with representatives from the Ohio Township Authority Risk Management Authority to discuss security details further as the township prepares to move the one-officer department into the township complex. Slater said the representatives from OTARMA, which is basically an exclusive insurance company for Ohio townships, offered suggestions, which were presented to project architect JBA Architects of Newark. “They were needing some details,” said Slater. He expected JBA to “jump right on” the project as soon as the architects receive the information. Slater said he couldn’t predict when the police department would move into the new building.

Previously, JBA Architects Vice President Greg Cotterman said plans are to use the right side of the building for the police department, which will require two secure doors and a “pass through” window to keep the one-officer department separated from the public. Trustees also want to create a small evidence room. So, Cotterman said total plans call for three doors, the window, and the evidence room.

• Trustees approved removal of a dead Cottonwood tree for $500 on Connemara Drive that suffered some lightening damage. Trustees also reviewed bids from several arborists to trim trees along township roads, however, Trustee Jesse Ours thought the bids were expensive and wondered if much of the trimming is really necessary. Slater said trustees would take another look at the branches encroaching or covering township roads to determine which branches are in the most need of trimming.

• Similarly, trustees reviewed bids from a company called Extreme Solutions, which uses an infrared heating device to liquefy, then smooth broken or cracked asphalt pavement. Several potential repair sites were estimated to cost roughly $1,200 to $1,400 each, so trustees only approved repairs to either approach to a bridge on Canal Road near the Hebron State Fish Hatchery for $535. That project is less expensive because it doesn’t require additional asphalt. Slater said the other projects are “on the back burner.”

• Slater said the township is contacting the Licking County Engineer’s Office for cost estimates for resurfacing work on Refugee Road, Margaret Lane, and Sycamore Drive.

• Trustees entered into an agreement with the City of Heath. According to a letter to Greene from Heath Division of Building & Zoning Chief John Groff, Heath recently received funding through the Licking County Area Transportation Study to replace a 1930 era box culvert on Thornwood Drive that’s been on ODOT’s replacement list for several years. The culvert is roughly half a mile north of the Thornwood and Seminary roads intersection and lies in both Heath and Union Township. LCATS and Heath will fund the project; Union Township bears no expense.

According to the letter, ODOT, Licking County, and Heath and Newark cities are jointly working on a design to improve the entire length of Thornwood Drive for the past few years. Heath intends to install the culvert according to these plans so it won’t require modification when Thornwood Drive is actually improved. The replacement culvert will be approximately twice the width of the existing culvert and the right of way will expand from 60 to 120 feet to accommodate the new culvert, enlarged shoulders, and drainage ditches. To complete the project, Heath must purchase additional right of way and enter into a cooperative agreement with Union Township since part of the culvert is beyond Heath’s corporation limit. Heath will completely own and maintain the entire new culvert once it’s complete.

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