St. Paris fiscal officer to resign this week

ST. PARIS – The village council accepted the resignation of village Fiscal Officer Cathlyn Adkins, effective Friday, during Monday’s regular meeting.

The resignation was brought up by Mayor Joe Reneer.

“I would like to thank the residents of St. Paris for allowing me to serve them the last 12 years,” Adkins states in her resignation letter.

Before council took action on the resignation, upset residents voiced their disappointment with council and a nepotism policy it passed this year.

During the Aug. 3 meeting, council unanimously approved a resolution enacting a nepotism policy for the village administration and elected offices.

Adkins’ husband, Tyler, was elected to village council last month after council terminated him from his position as village street commissioner in June. He attended Monday’s meeting.

One resident called the policy “bull(expletive)” and said the decision to accept the resignation would be foolish. Residents also stated they felt the policy was punishing Mrs. Adkins due to previous issues with Mr. Adkins.

Council member Larry Watkins said he was absent during the Aug. 3 meeting and would not have voted for the resolution. He said Mrs. Adkins has done an excellent job.

“Would I like Cathy to stay? Doggone right I would,” Watkins said. “Has she done a good job? She’s probably the best clerk since I’ve been here and I’ve been here for a couple different clerks. I don’t want her to go.”

Council member Niven Jester said it was Mrs. Adkins’ decision to resign and not council’s. Mr. Adkins said it was council’s decision because it created the policy, to which council member Lynn Miller responded, “no, you created the policy.”

When put to a vote, the resignation was accepted 4-1 with Watkins voting no. Council member Brad Kennedy was not present.

Council also unanimously approved a payout of Mrs. Adkins’ unused vacation and sick time.

Former school purchased

Following an executive session, council returned to unanimously authorize Village Administrator Joe Sampson to contact Graham Local Schools to move forward with the purchase of the former Graham junior/senior high school, 370 E. Main St.

Watkins abstained from voting as he is an adjacent property owner.

The property was a topic of discussion since the Graham Local Schools board approved a resolution in August offering to sell the property to the village for $15,000. The motion passed on Monday approved the purchase at the same price.

Prior to this action, Sampson stated he received a second cost estimate for how much it would cost to demolish the building. The estimate was $214,000, while an estimate from another company was over $300,000.

Previously, council held multiple work sessions allowing for public input on what to do with the property, but council did not discuss plans for the property on Monday. Council vacated a work session scheduled prior to the Dec. 21 meeting.

Council authorized Sampson to supervise the sale of property located at 9746 W. U.S. Route 36. According to the Champaign County auditor’s website, the property is a one-story modular residence built in 1988.

Village police receive grants

St. Paris Police Officer David C. Patrick II informed council about two grants the department received.

A grant in the amount of $10,916.85 is for a new server and complete reworking of the police department’s computer network. In a memo Patrick provided to council, he states the current police server is over 10 years old and contains records dating back to 2005.

“We are already three years over the standard lifetime of a server and if the current server fails the police department could lose all of the records due to no standard backup being performed,” Patrick stated.

Some of the anticipated improvements from a new server Patrick mentioned include updated firewalls, the ability to print from anywhere including a cruiser and the ability to have infrastructure to implement future technologies such as in-car camera/body cameras as the department would have the ability to store this data.

The second grant is a continuation of the MARCs radio grant from this year and will provide $12,260 for two more portable radios and a base station radio in the police office. Patrick stated in the memo that the department currently owns two portable radios and borrows two portable radios from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The majority of the total grant costs will be covered by the state Office of Criminal Justice Services and the village would pay $5,794.22.

Annexation hearing continued

A public hearing about bringing land into the village was continued until Dec. 29 at 10 a.m. The initial hearing was held Tuesday at the Champaign County Commission office, 1512 S. U.S. Route 68.

The petition was started by the First Church of God, St. Paris, and the property being annexed into the village is 23.471 acres from Johnson Township. A map of the annexation plat shows the property includes parts of the township east of the village to Heck Hill Road.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Champaign County Assistant Prosecutor Jane Napier said she was informed that the county was missing an affidavit stating notice of the hearing was sent to property owners who signed the petition and a proof of publication in a local newspaper.

After some discussion of options, the commissioners agreed to continue the hearing. The Dec. 29 hearing will also take place at the commissioners’ office.

In other action:

•Sampson said the village’s “checkbook” is now online at St. Paris is found under the “cities and village” category and contains the village financial information from 2013 until August 2015.

•After holding a public hearing prior to the meeting, council held the first reading on a proposed amendment to a zoning ordinance during the regular meeting. The proposed amendment, applied for by James Mahan, proposes to rezone 11509 W. U.S. Route 36 from non-conforming to an R1 property.

•Council approved an amendment to its contract with Urbana Law Director Breanne Parcels to prosecute all cases filed in or transferred to the Champaign County Municipal Court involving crimes and traffic offenses committed within the village for 2016 and 2017.

•Reneer thanked everyone who helped with and participated in Christmas in the Village on Dec. 5.

By Nick Walton

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.