Council OKs cell tower easement

By David J. Coehrs -

Andrea Gerken, left, Wauseon’s new Clerk of Council, was sworn into office Monday by Mayor Kathy Huner.

Andrea Gerken, left, Wauseon’s new Clerk of Council, was sworn into office Monday by Mayor Kathy Huner.

Wauseon City Council on Monday conducted a mixed bag of business including an easement for a cell phone tower and the purchase of a state-owned building.

The meeting began with Mayor Kathy Huner swearing in Andrea Gerken as Clerk of Council. She replaces longtime clerk Margaret Murphy, who retired in September after 24 years.

Police Chief Keith Torbet then swore in his son, Kaleb Torbet, as the department’s newest officer. Torbet said later the hire was approved by the Ohio Ethics Commission, which found no conflict of interest since Torbet will not be supervised directly by the chief.

The council suspended the rule of three readings and approved 5-0 a recommendation by the city’s Building and Grounds Committee to offer an easement to Tillman Infrastructure for a cell phone tower on property behind Riley Tractor Parts, which is located on West Linfoot Street. Council President Jeff Stiriz was not in attendance.

During a committee meeting held Sept. 18, Tillman offered the city a one-time $1,000 payment for the easement. However, the company later agreed to a $3,000 payment after committee members said the company’s first offer wasn’t enough.

The resolution will take effect in 30 days.

Council members also suspended the rule of three readings to approve 5-0 an offer by the Ohio Department of Transportation for the city to purchase the state-owned building at 989 N. Shoop Ave. for one dollar. ODOT will abandon the building to move into new county headquarters on State Highway 108 in Dover Township.

Councilor Shane Chamberlin briefly interrupted the vote to inquire about the agreement, which he said council members had not seen prior to the vote. The vote continued after Law Director Tom McWatters responded to Chamberlin’s concerns.

McWatters told the council a use for the building has been determined. He said the Wauseon school district has expressed interest in a portion of the property.

The resolution authorizing Huner to enter into an a purchasing contract and licensing agreement with ODOT for the property will take effect in 30 days.

In other business, Building and Grounds Committee member Rick Frey said the committee rejected a $191,665 quote from Ehrsam Excavating of Delta to increase the depth of a detention pond located at Wauseon Machine and Manufacturing. The four-foot deep pond, which is too shallow to retain a good ecosystem, has cost the city $1,500 in chemical maintenance since the beginning of 2017.

“The cost of digging it deeper is, we all thought, was way astronomically too high to do something like that,” Frey told the council. No action has been taken pending further research.

Also reporting for the Wauseon Tree Commission, Frey said there are concerns about trees on some private property that are potentially hazardous to adjoining property. He said the commission can send form letters to the property owners expressing concern, but added they have no obligation to correct the problems.

The commission will also host a chainsaw safety class in October or November. The class is a requirement for the Fulton Soil and Water Conservation district to receive a grant for the Indian Hill trail project in Homecoming Park.

Frey also reported the commission received a seedling from an elm tree that survived the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. He said it has been planted at the city’s Public Works building until strong enough to be transplanted elsewhere.

In department reports:

• Fire Chief Rick Sluder announced October is Fire Safety Month. He said the department will conduct tours and school programs to coincide.

He also advised council members that a small fireworks display will be conducted during Friday’s high school homecoming events.

• Police Chief Keith Torbet said Coffee With A Cop was to be held Wednesday at Circle K on Shoop Avenue.

He also said the department will apply for a Justice Assistance Grant – Law Enforcement in order to replace a records management server and a dispatch computer.

And Torbet said the next Drug Take Back Day will be held Saturday, Oct. 28. Unwanted prescription pills can be dropped off for disposal at the police department, the Rite Aid store at 1496 N. Shoop Ave. or at Walmart, 485 E. Airport Hwy.

• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said Gerken Paving of Napoleon is finishing up a street paving project.

• Speaking on behalf of Finance Director Jamie Giguere, Mayor Huner announced the city received the Audit of State Award from the office of State Auditor Dave Yost following completion of a financial audit. The notification read, in part: “Taxpayers can take pride in your commitment to accountability.”

Huner also announced that city income increased just over six percent in September.

The City Council also approved the suspension of three readings and passage of:

• A resolution authorizing the mayor to advertise for, accept the lowest bid for, and contract for construction of fire department sleeping rooms and police department offices in the city administration building at 230 Clinton St.

• A resolution authorizing the Public Service Director to advertise for bids for a refuse franchise, and to authorize the mayor to accept the lowest bid and enter into a contract with that bidder.

The council passed the first reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to request qualifications for an engineer, and a third reading of a resolution accepting the recommendation of the city’s Revolving Loan Fund Committee authorizing the mayor to enter an agreement with Wauseon Machine and Manufacturing.

Andrea Gerken, left, Wauseon’s new Clerk of Council, was sworn into office Monday by Mayor Kathy Huner. Gerken, left, Wauseon’s new Clerk of Council, was sworn into office Monday by Mayor Kathy Huner.

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.