(Information submitted by Middleport Mayor Fred Hoffman)
Middleport Village Council met in regular session on April 24, 2023 at village hall with Mayor Fred Hoffman presiding. Present were the following: Council members Brian Conde, Matt Lyons, David Dowler, Ben Reed, and Tyler Andrews. Also present were Fiscal Officer Susan Baker, Village Administrator Joe Powell , Assistant Village Administrator Andy Blank, Police Officer Jordan Snoke, Fire Chief Jeff Darst, and Village Attorney Richard Hedges, along with visitors Mary Wise, Nancy Burns, Bill Lambert, and Square One representative . Opening prayer was given by Rev. Keesee followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
A motion was made and approved to excuse Shawn Arnott from the meeting.
The following were approved unanimously by council: Minutes of the March 13 meeting, Finance Report, and payment of bills as approved by the finance committee.
The Mayor stated that several items needed to be discussed with Fire Chief Jeff Darst who was present at the meeting. Darst stated that about five years ago, council agreed to pay the fire department members a small amount for their participation in active fire runs. He stated that only a few firemen qualified for the funds as there were stipulations about the number of runs made by the firemen and other criteria set by the fire department. He recommended raising the amount from $8 to $12 and from $10 to $15 on the two criteria as selected by the fire department. After a short discussion, this was unanimously approved by council. Darst also inquired if any further discussion had been held on additional ways to increase the operation income of the fire department after the meeting that was held some time ago with the finance committee to discuss this. After a short discussion, it was decided to have another meeting with the finance committee and present a recommendation to council at the next meeting.
The Mayor stated that our fire department hosed down the business district streets and sidewalks Friday, April 7, and I thought they did a great job. They have not asked but it would be great to donate something to the department. We are very fortunate to have an active fire department who spend a lot of hours on runs, maintenance etc. No action was taken on the recommendation.
The Mayor once again discussed the doors at the fire department which need to be replaced. He stated that the estimate for their replacement was $42,760. After a rather heated discussion, Ben Reed stated that he felt we just needed to borrow the funds for the door repair and also for the roof replacement which had been under discussion for some time. Susan Baker agreed to contact local banks for their interest rates on the two projects and discuss them at the next meeting.
The Mayor thanked David Dowler for his interest in finding someone interested in our roof replacement project. After a short discussion, it was agreed to advertise the project for bids and make arrangements to finance the project through a local bank once the bid is awarded.
The Mayor stated that we will be receiving two steel benches, one for Diles Park and one for the splash pad at Hartinger Park. These were provided free of charge through a program of the Washington County Health Department. The village only had to prepare the base for the benches to be attached to.
Mary Wise and Joe Powell briefly discussed the planning for the fireworks display. Mary stated that donations were going very well and she felt the goal of $10,000 would be met. Powell stated that a representative from Hamburg Fireworks had inspected the new site adjacent to Diles Park and felt it was a good location for the display. Both Wise and Powell expressed their opinions that everything was moving along well on this project.
Hoffman said that he would like to thank Nancy Burns for pointing out mistakes in our utilities billing recently. All customers were overcharged by $5 and the Senior discount was not taken on the refuse bill as the Mayor thought it should have been since previously it had been discounted. This would be $2.40. Hopefully these accounts can be credited in the near future.. I would like to recommend that the refuse bill be discounted at 10% as it was in the past. After a short discussion, it was agreed that the Refuse ordinance would be revisited at the next meeting and that the 10% discount would be given on this.
A representative from Square One presented council with information on the new Square One facility which will be housed in the buildings beside Main Street Furniture. She stated that the building was being purchased from Mr. Ingels and would be completely renovated and designed for use by Square One. The facility will utilize all three floors of the building with residential rooms, treatment facilities, and many other activities in cooperation with various other local agencies. A pizza shop will be located on the first floor operated by participants in the Square One activities.
Hoffman stated that he believed Middleport has a lot of momentum moving forward this year and next. Below are some of the things that will be happening:
1. Two paving projects have a very good chance of being approved in May by Small Government which could result in about a half million dollars in paving this summer.
2. Engineering on the TAP sidewalk grant of almost $1 million should be done this year with actual construction being in July, 2024. The village is responsible for the engineering on this project which is $151,500. I have these funds — $50,000 was allotted thru the Regional Transportation Committee and $101,500 was donated by a local resident.
Also an application was submitted for another one million thru TAP for more sidewalks – Hoping that will be approved.
3. Square One was awarded $2,000,000+ for investment in their Middleport project which was briefly discussed earlier.
4. The Meigs museum project was in another project which ranked No. 4 in the Appalachian Round 1 grants but was not funded due to not enough funds to fund the whole project – only those items pertaining to the Baileys Trail System were funded. Hopefully this $3,000,000 project can be funded in Round 2 of this grant program next year.
The Mayor brought up for discussion a proposal to update and improve the village computer system. After a short discussion, it was decided to invite Travis Grate to the next council meeting to discuss the new system and its benefits.
Andy Blank presented information to council on a way to get rid of some of the sludge at the lagoon. He stated that the lagoons needed sludge removed since it had probably never been done and they were getting pretty full. He stated that it would cost millions to dredge and clean the lagoons but that the proposed system is much cheaper. The Mayor asked council members to review the information and discuss it at the next meeting.
Baker stated that a new fund needed to be created for the $101,500 donated for the Sidewalk Project. Council unanimously approved doing this.
After a short discussion, both the Group Health Insurance and the Property/Liability Insurance were renewed at a small increase in premiums.
Conde stated that the new ADA sidewalk at the park looked good. He also said some of the funds for this may be reimbursed by the family. Powell said he would get some figures together on this.
Council adjourned with the next regular meeting set for May 8 at 7 PM at Village hall.
(Information submitted by Middleport Mayor Fred Hoffman)