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Village council wants to turn Lakefest into a legacy

BUCKEYE LAKE – Village Council members, Monday night, discussed keeping the annual “Lakefest” celebration alive as a tribute to its creator, the late John Sproat, who passed away unexpectedly Jan. 26.

“He was a good friend and a buddy,” said council President Jeryne Peterson. And, the village should “continue on with something he had such a dream and desire for.”

Council member Kitty Zwissler said the Lakefest enhances life for everyone in the community, particularly the children. “Let’s keep John alive,” she said.

Council member Barry Herron said he’s pulling together an application for vendors and has a list of more than 400 vendors he intends to contact through the application. At this point, Herron said he’d be happy with 40 arts and craft vendors and three or four food vendors. The food vendors would not be allowed to duplicate products, and no more than two arts and craft vendors could sell the same product.

Lakefest has been a one-day festival most recently held at the North Shore boat ramp on a Saturday in June.

Herron said his goal is to expand the celebration over the next several years. He said a fireworks show helps, and he hopes the fire works would eventually attract up to 15,000 people to the village. If this happens, Lakefest could expand to 60 to 70 arts and craft vendors and 15 food vendors, but this remains to be seen. “It’s still a work in progress,” Herron said, adding that he believes he can round up a significant number of vendors. He established an email account, to communicate with vendors.

“Five years from now, the festival will be a completely different animal,” Herron said.

In other council news:

• Council members continue to review surrounding communities’ waste hauler contracts and discuss options in committee. Earlier this month, Waste Management, Inc. notified the village it purchased the village’s current contractor – Big “O” Refuse LLC. Waste Management will fulfill Big “O’s” contract terms into 2017. The village has the option of simply continuing the Big “O” contract through Waste Management until the current contract expires or seeking bids for another contractor.

“I don’t think we’re ready to close a deal at all,” said Mayor Clay Carroll, adding that there’s still much work to be done before the village understand what it wants in a trash hauling contract and is ready to go to bid.

“It’s important to look at many contracts,” said council member Arletta Ruton. Before going to bid, the village will have reviewed or discussed contracts from Millersport, Pickerington, Hebron, Baltimore, Utica, and Johnstown. “This’ll give us a better idea of what we need in our contract,” she said.

“Millersport has a good one,” council member Peggy Wells said.

A new refuse hauling company out of Newark called Adkins Disposal Service LLC contacted the village as a potential bidder, but Wells questions if the fledgling company, which begins hauling trash in Licking County in March, would be able to handle Buckeye Lake’s trash volume and challenging street layout. A former owner and a former employee of Big “O,” together, lead Adkins Disposal.

“They may be hungry for the business,” Zwissler said.

Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason suggested council members keep a few things in mid as they consider potential haulers. “Do they offer recycling? If not they should,” he said. “What about toters? Is a single hauler throughout the village to include commercial accounts? What about single day pick-up?”

Buckeye Lake Council Clerk Valerie Hans said Buckeye Lake is one of the few communities in the area that has a five percent annual increase in its contract.

“There are many options to discuss,” Ruton said. “It should be based on what we want in our contract.”

• Council members renewed the village’s contract with Licking Township to provide emergency services for Maple Bay and Hunts Landing; the township contracts with the village because Buckeye Lake can respond quicker to emergency calls in those areas than the Jacksontown based Licking Township Fire Company. The contract sets a $350 charge per run.

Previously, Wells asked if the village bills for EMS transports from those runs and collects the run charge from Licking Township. Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Dave Ruton said the village bills for the run and collects EMS billing revenue from insurance companies.

Wells said that was “double-dipping” on the village’s part. “That’s not right,” she said. “That’s raising the cost of insurance for all of us. I wouldn’t want to see the village collect that. It’s an ethical issue.”

Tuesday, Carroll said the village is not double-dipping. “To try to view this issue in layman terms I see it this way,” he said. “When a call comes in to the contracted area, the contract pays us to arrive on site and take care of the situation as it can be handled on site. If the patient needs to be transported and treated the contract doesn’t pay anything additional. But, the soft billing steps in to cover the cost of that transportation and treatment.”

Wells accepted that explanation and voted to approve the contract.

• Former council member Gerry Neff’s council position remained open as of Feb. 24, which was the last day for interested candidates to submit applications.

Neff submitted a resignation letter at the Feb. 9 council meeting citing “personal reasons” for giving up her position. Council members accepted her request, but Neff later asked to rescind her resignation and remain on council. She was told since her resignation was accepted she would need to apply for the position like anyone else.

Two applications were submitted by the deadline – Neff and Lancaster physician Robert J. Masone M.D. who lives on North Bank. Thirty minute interviews with each candidate have been scheduled for Monday, March 2.

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