Wauseon’s new executive director of the Chamber of Commerce told City Council members Monday he plans to reinvigorate the organization with some lofty goals.
In a brief presentation, Bill Drummer said he wants to push the current total of 188 Chamber members, 18 of which he has recruited since January, to a figure over 200 within 1 1/2 months. He said he has signed two new members a week, and “I’m going to continue on that trail.”
The former owner of Bill’s Sports Center and Certified Document Destruction, who was a Chamber member for 25 years, told council members he has visited the Archbold, Napoleon, and Bryan chambers of commerce frequently to learn the secrets to their success. Each has a membership of between 300-400 businesses.
“We need to get Wauseon up on its feet, and be of that size and magnitude,” Drummer said. He added that many of the Wauseon businesses he has visited had not been asked to join.
“My goal is to make Wauseon Chamber an active part of this community, and I believe I can do that,” he said. To that end, Drummer plans to schedule the city’s Strawberry Festival, Movies in the Park, and the Chili Cook-Off, and wants to hold a Valentine’s Day dinner in 2017.
He also wants to resurrect an annual golf outing he said “used to be the gem of the summer.” He said it could include a local merchants’ tent, and proceeds could be used for, among other things, scholarships.
Drummer has already made plans to renew a once-regular “Business After Hours” networking event. The first has been scheduled for March 31, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Sullivan’s Restaurant, 141 N. Fulton Street.
He reminded council members he has sat on the city’s school, park, and INTV boards, in addition to others. “I have a general interest in the downtown, a general interest in Wauseon itself,” he said.
In other business, Councilor Rick Frey reported that the Tree Commission has listed 28 city trees that may need to be removed, and 40 that need trimming. He said a list of dead trees on private property has been compiled, but questioned whether the city has the legal authority to order their removal.
Frey said the commission met on Feb. 10 and discussed the city hosting Tree City USA awards in three to four years. He said a letter of intent from the city is required.
At that meeting, no action was taken on member Jim Spiess’ suggestion that the commission create a foundation to ensure available money for tree-related projects. Spiess also suggested the city update its tree ordinance, increasing the fine for vandalized trees from $100 to $500. Member Larry Frey suggested community service also be added to the penalty.
In department reports:
• Regional Planning Director David Wright said he’d like city trash receptacles and benches to be selected during a March 28 Downtown Revitalization Committee meeting. The items were included in Wauseon’s downtown revitalization application submitted to the state.
Wright said the committee has begun to draw funds from the downtown revitalization grant for a qualified building business owner who has already completed some physical activities on the property. He said the committee is working with other applicants for a real estate acquisition portion, which uses real estate acquisition as a match to the grant.
“Hopefully, looking at those activities on a case-by-case basis, we can get some more money out into the community,” he said. “Once we start seeing physical activity I’m hoping more folks will jump on board with that grant.”
Wright also reported that he received a request for information regarding a state Targets of Opportunity grant he applied for two years ago. The $200,000 grant would assist a more than $1 million project to complete extensive foundation repair work and interior Americans With Disabilities Act work needed at the Wauseon Public Library.
• Fire Chief Rick Sluder told the council the department is finalizing a list of candidates this week from 11 people who took a civil service exam Feb. 27.
• Police Chief Keith Torbet said Safety City sessions have been scheduled to begin June 6 and June 12. He said registrations are being sent.
He also announced that the annual Youth Police Academy has been scheduled for June 6-10.
• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson reported that mainlines for the Linfoot Street reconstruction project have been completed and passed necessary testing. Service lines for sanitary and storm sewers are being tied into the new water mains.
He said the department is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation and Fulton County engineers to provide the water and sewer needs of the ODOT-Fulton County campus being constructed on State Highway 108 across from the county fairgrounds. That complex will include the county’s new Heritage Visitors Center.
Richardson also reported that the clarifier painting project is proceeding at the water treatment plant, and the annual consumer confidence report will be included in the next round of city water bills, and is available on the city website.
And Richardson announced the following promotions: Clem Kutzli as superintendent of the Water Reclamation Plant, and Josh Reckner as working foreman for the Public Works Department.
• Finance Director Jamie Giguere said city income tax revenue is up 6.5 percent as compared to this time last year.
• City Law Director Tom McWatters III told council the city ball diamond property is now formally in the possession of Wauseon Village Exempted Schools. The deed was delivered to Superintendent Larry Brown.
On Monday, the council also heard from Vicki Donovan Lyle, a Republican candidate for the District 47 seat of term-limited State Representative Barbara Sears, and from Tracy Zuver, a Republican candidate for Fulton County Clerk of Courts.
Mayor Kathy Huner presented council members with copies of the city’s 2015 year-end report. Financial information for 2015 included: the city’s 13 individual funds received 10.65 million and disbursed $10.5 million; the total cash balance of all funds was $8.863 million as of Dec. 31, and of that $3.167 million was encumbered; gross city income tax receipts, less refunds, were $3.720 million, as compared to $3.504 million in 2014.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for March 21 at 5 p.m. in second floor council chambers at 230 Clinton St.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.