City Council discusses smoking, parking

By David J. Coehrs -

Wauseon Councilor Shane Chamberlin said no action will be taken on two city parking issues.

Wauseon Councilor Shane Chamberlin said no action will be taken on two city parking issues.

Wauseon City Council on Monday discussed a hodgepodge of issues including the progress of a proposed smoking ban in city parks.

Building and Grounds Committee member Rick Frey said the committee has discussed language that could be included in a proposed city ordinance. He said Police Chief Keith Torbet requested that Sharon Morr, director of Corporate and Community Health Promotion at the Fulton County Health Center, suggest proper language for an ordinance, and was awaiting her results.

A proposed smoking ban was brought up at a Park Board meeting in August. Board members said they favored following the decision of the villages of Delta and Archbold to place “No smoking” signs in city parks. They indicated there may not be a need to enforce the rule with a city ordinance.

No official action has been taken.

Street Committee member Shane Chamberlin told the council no action is planned regarding a proposed ban on parking on Marshall Street.

He said the police chief sent a dozen surveys to residents of the 400 block of Marshall Street to gauge their opinions on a proposed no parking order. Nine surveys were returned, of which three favored the ban.

Parking on the street was addressed at a previous City Council meeting. At that time, Chamberlin said there were concerns a parking ban would cause hardships for the residents.

The committee also had no recommendation, and plans no action, on a citizen’s request for handicapped parking near the Congregational Church of Christ at the corner of Elm and Clinton streets. Chamberlin said an evaluation by the city’s Public Works Department concluded room is available for a handicapped parking space in a nearby municipal lot. However, “It would be an awfully long walk to the church,” he said.

Chamberlin said an aerial map shows a grassy area at the church where a handicapped spot could be placed.

The council passed a motion 6-0 to accept the Personnel Committee’s recommendation to advertise for an executive assistant position for the Wauseon Fire Department. Fire Chief Rick Sluder previously said the new position would ease the paperwork that sometimes overwhelms the department’s administrators.

Chamberlin also reported that the Utility Committee was contacted by resident Sherry LaRue, who complained her water bill for one month totaled $650.32. He said LaRue was notified by the city that her water meter registered use of 118,000 gallons. An investigation by city workers found no evidence of water running excessively on her property.

The committee had no recommendation on how to resolve the bill, and has taken no action.

Council members revisited a claim by resident Nancy Koder in October that a slight increase in total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in the city’s drinking water, which placed them over Environmental Protection Agency limits, killed her pet and made her and an already ailing friend ill. Koder, who has no access to the Internet or social media, said because she lives in a mobile home park she never received a direct mailing about the water from the city, and therefore didn’t know about the TTHMs situation.

Mayor Kathy Huner proposed that once annually the city send a mailer to residents without access to the city’s online alerts on water, snow removal, grass clippings, and other issues. She said it would provide information and offer city contact numbers.

“Maybe once a year we can send this information out,” she said. “Communication has always been the one thing that we’ve said has been hard to get to our citizens. This is one way for those people who do not have computer access to our web page. It’s just a good education once a year.”

And council members approved 5-1 a Utility Committee recommendation allowing Fulton County to tie wastewater services for nine residents into a city sewer at County Road J and State Route 108 with two-inch pipe.

Chamberlin said the county is experiencing sewer problems in Dover Township in the vicinity of Fulton County Airport. He said the request by the county commissioners is recommended with the understanding that Wauseon city workers will not maintain the route.

Councilor Rick Frey, who cast the negative vote, said past policy has been not to accept sewer tie-ins within city limits. He said he’s concerned that approval will open the door to other entities requesting the same privilege.

In department reports:

• Fire Chief Rick Sluder reminded the public the department will hold a Sportsmen’s Raffle on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Fulton County Fairgrounds. He said tickets are still available.

• Police Chief Keith Torbet announced the next “Coffee With A Cop” event Dec. 9, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., at Red Rambler Coffees, 1493 N. Shoop Ave.

He also cautioned motorists to take extra precautions over the Thanksgiving holiday. “We want everyone to have a good time, but not too good of a time,” he said.

• Public Service Director Dennis Richardson said the city will open bids Dec. 6 for treatment chemicals for the water and wastewater treatment plants.

He said a second bidding process for a community pool will be advertised after the new year. During the first process this year, bids came in well over what the project’s engineers estimated.

• Law Director Tom McWatters III said the city continues implementation of a compensation plan and accompanying evaluation process for its employees regarding merit increases.

And a new state law going into effect Jan. 1 which prohibits or restricts “utility”, “low-speed” or “underspeed vehicles on public streets will be discussed at a Safety and Code Committee meeting Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m. in Council chambers.

The council approved the suspension of three readings and emergency passage of resolutions authorizing the mayor to enter into: an agreement with Public Entities Pool of Ohio for city casualty, liability, fire, and property damage insurance, and with the Fulton County Commissioners for city-county dog services and indigent defense services in county court; and a contract with the county’s Western District Court for a bail bondsman.

Council members also approved a motion to gift full-time city employees and an appointed contracted department head with Wauseon Chamber of Commerce gift certificates for the holiday season.

Wauseon Councilor Shane Chamberlin said no action will be taken on two city parking issues. Councilor Shane Chamberlin said no action will be taken on two city parking issues.

By David J. Coehrs

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.