The majority of a Wauseon City Council meeting held Monday was devoted to committee reports.
The council approved 6-0 a Finance Committee recommendation to authorize Mayor Kathy Huner and Fire Chief Rick Sluder to negotiate new fire service contracts with surrounding townships next year. The contracts will be drafted using a formula created by County Auditor Brett Kolb, City Finance Director Jamie Giguere, and Sluder to tabulate the townships’ expenses.
Committee member Jon Schamp said the committee has authorized Police Chief Keith Torbet to purchase a new department vehicle originally budgeted for 2017. He said the purchase was pushed forward due to an offer to outfit the vehicle with $13,000 worth of police equipment free of charge provided it is displayed for a week at the Police Expo in Columbus.
Schamp said money for the purchase is available through the city’s drug seizure fund. A K-9 Unit vehicle was purchased previously through the fund.
Council members also approved 6-0 a Safety and Code Committee recommendation to amend the city ordinance regarding smoking in the workplace and in public places to include e-cigarettes and vapor cigarettes. Committee member Scott Stiriz told the council Fulton County has already established a rule in its handbook banning e-cigarettes from facilities it owns.
At a meeting held March 10, committee member Shane Chamberlin reported that statistics provided by the Fulton County Health Center show an increase in e-cigarette use from two percent to 14 percent over the past two years.
The Park Board received unanimous council approval of its recommendation for construction of an open-air gazebo in Dorothy B. Biddle Park, near the concession stand.
Stiriz, a board member, said plans to apply blacktop to a portion of the park are on hold until the square footage of the project is determined. He said the cost could reach $50,000.
He also recommended that trash receptacles being replaced downtown could be relocated to Biddle Park.
The board tabled a discussion of lighting the community swimming pool scheduled for construction this year in Reighard Park. Stiriz said the approximate cost would be $75,000.
“We just thought that might be a little bit expensive, and we could use that (money) for something else,” Stiriz said.
Due to safety concerns, fencing will be placed around the pool during its construction, he said.
The newly-formed Holiday Committee reported that city businesses have begun donating to the scheduled Fourth of July fireworks celebration. Eight restaurants have committed to donating a percentage of their sales: Sullivan’s, April 13, 4-8 p.m., 10 percent; Los Mariachis, May 12, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., 15 percent; Tano’s Pizza, May 16, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., 10 percent; Burger King, May 21, 2-6 p.m., 20 percent; McDonald’s, June 6, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., 20 percent; Marco’s Pizza, June 13, 4-8 p.m., 15 percent; and Tiny’s Dairy Barn, June 19, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
A chicken barbeque supporting the fireworks will be held July 3 beginning at 11 a.m., at Biddle Park. And Wauseon High School art students will decorate eight pairs of firemen’s boots to be placed in city locations for donations.
Tree Commission member Rick Frey told council members the city will be presented with the Tree City USA Growth Award on April 20.
In department reports:
• Regional Planning Director David Wright announced that Fulton County’s 2016 Community Development Block Grant allocation is $110,000, an increase of $4,000 over last year.
That allocation includes a portion to make downtown Wauseon compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Wright said representatives from Peterman Associates, a Findlay engineering firm, will survey the downtown area to establish a cost estimate.
Wright also reported that the Wauseon Public Library has been approved for a $200,000 Targets of Opportunity grant through the Ohio Department of Development. The grant will fund the repair of the library’s crumbling foundation and interior ADA compliance.
• Assistant Police Chief Bill McConnell said the department will apply for a Community Policing Relations Grant worth up to $30,000.
• Code Administrator Tom Hall told council the Fulton County chapter of Habitat for Humanity is offering a program that spruces up residents’ home exteriors. Conditions include labor by the homeowner and some financial commitment. Interested parties can call 419-335-7000.
• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said contractors are connecting water service lines to existing customers as part of the Linfoot Street reconstruction project. He said storm system work will begin through the Shoop Avenue intersection, “so there will be a jam-up there for a day or two.”
Richardson said the Environmental Protection Agency has notified the city changes are coming in monitoring for algal blooms in the water system. He said that will include additional testing.
And he said the Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association is seeking grant money to pave the city’s bicycle trail.
The city council also suspended the rule of three readings and passed on emergency a resolution authorizing an agreement between the mayor and the City of Cleveland to provide Wauseon police officers as security forces at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.