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Trustees ban smoking in township parks

MILLERSPORT – Walnut Township Trustees unanimously agreed Tuesday night to ban smoking in all five township parks.

Trustee Terry Horn raised the issue at their June meeting after hearing a complaint about a smoker responding rudely to a request not to smoke in the bleachers behind the Fairfield Beach ballfield. He and Trustee Chair Doug Leith agreed to table the issue until July so Trustee Bill Yates could be involved in the discussion. Yates was absent as he was one of the chaperons for Millersport High School senior trip.

Horn’s research determined that trustees can declare specific township-owned property as a nonsmoking area per Ohio Revised Code 3794.05.

Last month, Horn and Leith were focusing just on the township’s Fairfield Beach park. The requirement that the ban be posted at each entrance to the park was considered excessive and too costly.

Horn suggested that a sign at the shelterhouse and ballpark should be sufficient. “If we’re going to do it, we should do them all,” Yates said. Horn and Leith agreed. One sign each will be posted at each of the township’s four other parks.

In other business Tuesday night, Fiscal Officer Lynn Kraner and trustees scoured the 2016 budget and account balances to come up with $266,226 to resurface all 3.9 miles of Cattail Road this summer. Trustees earlier in the meeting opened a single bid from the Shelly Company for the project. Trustees asked for a base bid and bids on two alternates which, if accepted, would resurface the entire road. Shelly’s base bid was $163,494.80 with alternate 1 at an additional $74,880.30 and alternate 2 at $27,850.40.

Road supervisor Tim Morris urged trustees to do the entire road this year. “It is deteriorating so fast.” he said. He added that it will be an even bigger project next year as more road sections break up. Shelly representative Evan Packer added that asphalt prices are the lowest he has seen and will only go up from here.

Kraner said $209,000 was available. Morris said he just learned that the price of salt for next winter will be nearly $26 a ton less than last year. That savings will total about $13,000. Kraner continued to review accounts and came up with $25,000 set aside for capital equipment this year. It was thrown in the pot with the salt savings. When she found another $30,000 available from contracted services, Yates moved to do the entire project. Horn and Leith agreed. Trustees quickly executed the proposed contract and gave it to Packer.

In his report, Zoning Inspector Kevin Clouse said permit activity is heating up with 38 issued so far this year. Complaints have also been increasing, but he said 75 percent of them can’t be addressed by zoning.

The increased activity is making it difficult for him to find enough time to get everything done, so Clouse submitted his resignation.

“It’s time to transition to a new inspector,” he told trustees. “I’m willing to stay on for two to three months to get through most of the construction season and help with the transition.”

Trustees reluctantly accepted his resignation. “I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep you forever,” Leith said. Trustees decided to immediately advertise the opening to take advantage of Clouse’s willingness to stay on for another two or three months to bring the new inspector up to speed.

In his report, Millersport Fire Chief Bob Price discussed the recent understaffing at the department’s Fairfield Beach station. “Station 2 has been unmanned or undermanned since the first of June,” he said. “The station is not closed.”

The problem is being caused by the 1,500 hour per year limit for part-time government workers in Ohio law, the loss of some parttime firefighters to full-time jobs and increased demand for part-time firefighters as area departments expand on-station coverage. Price said the department has hired more than a dozen new part-timers in the last couple of months, but they are “green” and have to be carefully worked into the schedule.

He added that the 1,500 hour limit law is unique to Ohio. “There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel on this 1,500 hour thing,” Price added. “Hopefully we will get past it.”

Trustees want more information on what they will get if they contribute $10,200 to be part of the Regional Planning Land Use Plan and Development Strategy update. They want to be involved but believe the requested contribution is too high.

Trustees next regularly scheduled meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2, at the township facility.

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