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Village will be taking over cemetery

MILLERSPORT – Fire Chief Bob Price told council members at their January 10 meeting that he wants to increase on-station staffing to three and three (Millersport and Fairfield Beach stations) around the clock.

Currently only two firefighters are on-station at each fire station during the night. That can cause some delays on fire runs while the crew waits for a volunteer to arrive so they can meet the three-person minimum requirement to operate a truck, he explained.

The department’s new tanker/ engine that recently went into service at the Fairfield Beach station only needs two firefighters but they can’t enter a building until a third firefighter is present.

If Walnut Township voters – which includes Millersport residents – approve the additional three mill continuing fire levy on the May ballot, Price will use his department’s 65 percent share of the new funds to increase staffing to three and three around the clock and to increase hourly rates for part-time fire fighters. He said Thorn Township

Fire Department recently went to 24/7 on-station staffing and is paying part-time medics $14/hour. Millersport is just paying $12/hour for a medic which makes it harder to fill the schedule.

The Millersport Fire Department was one of the six area public service agencies each receiving a $175,000 bequest from a Thornville resident’s estate. Price said about $100,000 of the gift will be used to redo the makeshift living quarters at the Fairfield Beach station. “It is sorely needed,” he said. Some will be used to replace some aging turn-out gear with the rest for a vehicle to tow their special ops trailer which includes the grain rescue tube donated to the department by Nationwide Insurance last fall.

Price reported the department made 888 runs in 2016, up 72 from 2015. The breakdown was 685 EMS and 203 fire runs. “EMS is the big dog,” he explained.

In his report, Police Chief Mark Consolo said a couple of reserve officers recently resigned. The department still has 11 reserve officers and two more are going through field training.

The department has four paid officers; all are part-time. Mayor Gary Matheny said he believes that the village can add an additional 20-hour shift per week later in the year. That would ensure one paid shift every day.

Consolo said radios and incruiser laptops will have to be upgraded soon. “Our cruisers are in great condition.”

In the organizational portion of the meeting, Dustin Bidwell will continue to serve as president pro tem. Committee assignments are the same as last year.:

• Rules & Service: Charles Mesko (chair), James McKittrick and Beth Warner.

• Service: Donna Thogmartin (chair), Bidwell and Linda Willison.

• Personnel, Lands & Buildings: Warner (chair), Thogmartin and McKittrick; and

• Finance: Bidwell (chair), Mesko and Willison.

Council members agreed to change to two meetings a month beginning in February. Meetings will be held on the second and fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m.

In other business January 10, Matheny announced that the village would be taking control of the Millersport Cemetery. It is currently owned and operated by a board that is increasingly having difficulty finding people to serve on the board.

“It’s not going to cost us a lot of money,” Matheny said. The cemetery board has substantial reserves which will be turned over to village upon transfer.

Some of the cemetery property is in Walnut Township. The first step, Matheny said, is to annex into the village the township portion. He said the township has no interest in operating the cemetery. Then the village will look at buying some additional property for cemetery expansion. The lanes need some gravel which will cost about $5,000 which will come out of the reserve fund. “It (taking control of the cemetery) won’t be a major deal,” Matheny concluded.

Income surveys have been mailed out in the village’s continuing effort to determine if the village can meet the required threshold of at least 51 percent low to moderate income. to be eligible for a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant. A total of 91 responses are needed from the mail survey which will be added to the 151 already in hand.

Officials are waiting to receive a three-year lease from the Fairfield County Land Bank for the now cleared former Sohio standard property on Lancaster Street. The lease would be for a dollar a year for three years. At the end of the lease, the land bank would turn the property over to the village for another dollar. Should the village sell the property again profit on the sale would have to be applied to the $60,000 due in back taxes.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

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