The Barnesville Memorial Park received a $31, 881.55 donation from the estate of the late Jo Ann Mott. At the Monday, July 10 Barnesville Village Council meeting, Mayor Dale Bunting made the announcement and thanked Mott and her family for the generous donation. "We really do appreciate that and we will be looking for something to do to honor her commitment to the park," he said.
Mayor Bunting read a proclamation honoring the Barnesville B & O Depot on the 100th anniversary of the building,citing its history and village and community efforts to purchase, restore and maintain the historic landmark. Councilman Les Tickhill said the program, held on Saturday, July 8 at the Depot Pavilion was "very nice". "A lot of people have really put a lot of work into that building," he said. Bunting agreed, saying, "That committee works hard to upkeep the depot."
Village Administrator Roger Deal reported that Reservoir #1 was shut off and isolated from the water supply due to an algae bloom. He said it was the third time it had happened as far was he knew. He said water superintendent Doug Frye and his crew were taking daily samples and the reservoir would be opened again when the tests come back negative. "The heat of the summer has been known to not be very helpful to us when it comes to that, so we will monitor that," he said.
Deal also reported that despite recent rains, Gulfport had been asked to cease water withdrawals from Slope Creek since July 5. Deal said the water level was six inches below the 1090 elevation and he wanted council to be aware of it.
In response to a question from resident Scott Whitacre, Deal said Antero Resources had not been asked to cease water withdrawal because they had a separate contract for water purchase. Buntingl said the level at which Anero would be asked to cease withdrawal was one foot below Gulfport's.
Deal reported that 28-year water department employee Rick Truax had retired June 30 and received authorization to host lunch for him, the department, and retired employees with whom he worked at Annie K's. Traux, who has been battling cancer, was able to retire after village employees donated unused sick and vacation time to him.
"Rick has been a great employee for this village," Deal said. " He was just invaluable in the years I worked with Rick in his knowledge of the system, and he took great pride in not only knowing about the system, but knowing about water. Certainly, no one will replace him."
"It's kind of hard to find words to describe Rick," Bunting said. "He was a good employee and he spent a lot of years with us and like Roger was saying, he knew the system. He knew all about the system. He will be missed. I really wish him well on his retirement and on getting well."
Deal reported on Independence Day events at the park and thanked the park employees and the mayor for all their work throughout the weekend.. He said collections for the fireworks were up not only at the gate, but through donations from local businesses whom he thanked. "They supported us well this year and we want to thank them for that," Deal said. He also thanked the park board and council for their help.
"It's always a nice event. You've got the Beast of the East, the chamber doing all they do out there (chicken BBQ), and the park employees work hard that weekend," Mayor Bunting said, noting that Operations Manager Scott Baker (Miller's Donuts) donated donuts with the proceeds going to the fireworks fund. "A lot of people take a lot of pride in the park and it shows. It is always a nice turnout, nice fireworks, and a nice event."
Later Bunting said, "I know other people like me just love the place and it shows. They are really helping us out," he said also referring to Mott's donation.
Mayor's Court receipts for June totaled $2,104 with $733 going to the state, $27 to the county, and $1,344 to the village.
By a vote of 5-1, with councilman Terry McCort casting the dissenting vote, council passed an ordinance with an emergency clause, authorizing Mayor Bunting and Fiscal Officer Vicki Magers to sign an agreement with the Regional Council of Governments to join the Regional Income Tax Agency for the administration, enforcement and collection of village income tax. Village Solicitor Marlin Harper said that the agreement authorizes RITA to retain up to five percent of the taxes collected to be reconciled at the end of the year to pay the village's share.
Economic Development Director Bill Knox noted that the contract would not go into effect until January 1, 2018, but that RITA would look at the last three years of income tax collection and that the contract needed to be signed that day because ti took time to convert the info into their system. "There is an inordinate amount of time that goes into this conversion and that is why they are asking us for this lead time," Knox said.
Councilman Terry McCort questioned the value of paying RITA to collect the village's income taxes. "I guess my question is, are we gaining that much by paying them even three percent of what we collect," he asked.
"You have to look at compliance, which we've talked about previously, and you have to look at trends and what we've collected previously," Knox said. "There is a cost associated with it, but there is an expectation that they will more than pay for themselves as they have proven over and over and over again in almost 300 communities in the state of Ohio."
Police Chief David Norris showed council one of the two PhaZZER, non-lethal weapons that were donated to the department. He thanked the Bethesda Police Department, Bethesda-Belmot-Morristown Rotary Club (whose original donation led to the donation to Barnesville, Bridgeport and Martins Ferry Departments), and the PhaZZer Corporation for the donation.
A work session was set for July 17 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss long and short-term goals for the five-year capital improvement plan. Assistant Fire Chief Tim Hall also requested a work session for July 19 at 5:30 p.m. in Deal's office.
Council approved the payment of bills in the amount of $51,364.49. Council also approved the 2018 budget that is to be submitted to the Belmont County Auditor by July 20. A public hearing for the budget was held prior to the meting. Magers said a finance committee meeting was held the previous week to go over capital improvement requests.
Building permits were approved for: Matthew and Melissa Schultz, 601 N. Chestnut St. for the construction of a garage; Scott Whitacre, 397 Park St. for demolition of a trailer; Paul Tisher, 204 North St., demolition of a house; Angie Heskett, 520 S. Highland for demolition of a house; Denny Starr, 309 S. Gardner for demolition of a garage and Home Pizza, West Main St., for changing a porch roof from asphalt to metal.
Council president TIm McKelvey began a discussion about dilapidated houses and what recourse the village had. He asked if the village could acquire such properties. Harper said only if liens were filed and the owners foreclosed on the liens. Deal noted that Harper was given more than the three properties McKelvey mentioned to pursue legally. He said Fire Chief Bob Smith has also served other property owners. Harper said that following letters to those properties, he had now been asked to pursue legal recourse through Western Division Court.
"Those three, I sure wouldn't want to live next door to any of them and they're not going to get any better," McKelvey said. "If we don't take them over, they're not going to get any better and they will continue to fall down. They hurt property values and nothing good comes from that."
Harper said that if a property posed immediate danger, the village could go in and tear down a structure, but it would be at the village'c cost and the property owner would still own the property.
"I just think it is a shame that we don't go after these people," McKelvey said.
"It is a problem in every village and every city in the whole United States of America," Harper said.
Mayor Bunting said village officials were "going after" neglectful property owners.
"I don't think the general public understands just how long this process takes," councilman Tony Johnson said, noting that the removal of a property on East Main Street took two years to accomplish.
Council entered in executive session to discuss litigation and personnel.