madison-press.com

Beautification project moves forward

By Dean Shipley dshipley@civitasmedia.com

May 13, 2014

Mt. Sterling council forged ahead Monday evening, May 12, with its plan to beautify its downtown historic district.


At the request of the village administrator, Joe Johnson, the council suspended the three-reading rule and passed the ordinance. Johnson said by expediting the ordinance process, paperwork to be filed for the grant from ODOT for a portion of the $1.3 million project.


Johnson said the estimate is on the high side for the work planned to be done, which includes curb repair, a new stamped sidewalk and 44 19th-century style LED, high efficiency light fixtures.


Regarding the planning of the project, Johnson said, “I want everybody involved.”


From the 17 letters he received from businesses and residents, Johnson said he judged support appears to be present for the project.


In other business, Johnson said the village has been contacted by AT&T, which wants to erect a cellular phone tower on a portion of an eight-acre tract of land, which the village recently purchased. The agreement calls for AT&T to pay the village an annual lease payment of $14,400 per year on a five-year lease. The tower will be 285 feet tall.


In the finance committee report, chair Lowell Anderson said the RITA report to date for 2014 shows revenue of $188,000. For the same period in 2013, the amount collected by RITA totaled $157,000 for a gain of $31,000.


Sheriff’s Deputy Jack Dill updated the council on the status of the vehicle break-ins, which took place two weeks ago in the village. Through the investigation, the sheriff’s office has obtained names of “persons of interest,” he said. Dill said since that time, the number of vehicle break-ins has dropped to nearly zero.


No arrests have been made. Dill declined to comment further on the ages of the persons of interest.


Dill reminded residents to lock their vehicles when they’re parked outside a building, and to conceal in or remove potentially valuable items from the vehicle. While numerous vehicles which were rifled through were unlocked, one locked vehicle had a window smashed and crossbow taken because it was clearly visible.


Council member Diane Spradlin said due to the up-tick in vehicle intrusions, 17 new people attended the last block watch meeting held at the library. She said the break-ins had their impact on them one way or another.


The next block watch meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 15 and Thursday, May 29 on the lower level of the public library.


While Johnson has been pleased by the number of people caring for their yards, 18 yards have been identified as nuisances because of the tall grass. They will be mowed by village workers and the charge placed on the property tax duplicate.


In other business, resident Bobi Little requested more detail, particularly in ordinances and resolutions, on the council’s agendas.


Steve Brooks, a resident, landlord and property manager, reiterated his request for water bill records for the property he owns and those owned by the person he represents as an attorney. He said the water bills, which are currently outstanding, “are not going to be paid.”


He said his client has said there are funds which could be used for litigation, but he does not want to litigate.


“We want to resolve it,” he said.


Brooks said he has written letters to law director Mark Pitstick and village administrator Johnson, but has yet to receive the records requested.


He also protested against the ruling in the regulations in which the landlord must sign a document which allows the landlord’s tenant to be the agent.


“I won’t let the tenant be the agent for me,” he said.


The bills for the properties in question total more than $6,000.


Mike Browning of the youth baseball league said games began May 1 and will run through June 11.


Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.