ST. PARIS – On Monday evening, the St. Paris Village Council met for its final gathering of 2021 to celebrate the year’s accomplishments, as well as look forward to new goals.
After unanimous approval of the financial consent items prepared by Fiscal Officer Marc McGuire, Brenda Cook ran through her mayor’s notes.
She thanked village employees, and specifically Chad and Trisha Hackley, for their efforts in the Christmas in the Village activities of the previous Saturday, December 4. Cook also noted that 91-year-old St. Paris resident Elizabeth Evans donated a tree from her front yard to be decorated and placed in front of the municipal building. Additionally, Cook thanked the St. Paris Police Department for assisting the village in closing the streets and performing crowd control for the Our Town festivities.
Cook also noted that on Saturday, December 18, the Covenant Lutheran Church will be coordinating the Wreaths Across America program. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m., and all available volunteers will lay donated wreaths across the graves of all veterans in Evergreen Cemetery in St. Paris. Cook welcomed all interested to join in honoring these local heroes. A companion event will be held at Oak Dale Cemetery in Urbana the same day.
Spencer Mitchell, village administrator, then introduced St. Paris’s new Water and Wastewater Operator Chris Schaeffer.
Born and raised in Christiansburg, Schaeffer graduated from Graham High School and went on to study at Columbus State. He then spent 15 years working for himself in the fitness industry in Springfield before moving back to Christiansburg roughly three years ago with his wife and young daughter. There, he has sat on the Board of Public Affairs for nearly three years. Schaeffer is currently in his third week in this position.
The council then progressed to committee discussions. Terry Ervin, member of the JSP fire board, reported that the JSP Fire Board will hold its next meeting on December 14 at 7 p.m. at the firehouse. Additionally, the board has begun collaborations with the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association to seek strong candidates to fill the role of JSP fire chief (a part-time position).
Ervin also sits on the Planning Commission and announced that their next meeting will be January 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building.
The Land and Buildings Committee, consisting of council members Lynn Miller and Chad Hackley, as well as village resident Joe Curran, summarized their previous meeting. In collaboration with Chief Eric Smith and Spencer Mitchell, the committee discussed the possibility of selling the St. Paris municipal building, a proposal still in its early stages.
“We are just exploring options moving forward with what’s best for the village in the big picture,” Cook said.
For the Street Committee, Randy Smith and Spencer Mitchell noted that while no new projects have begun, due to the inclement winter months, the village plans to continue picking up leaves as weather allows and will keep streets plowed when snow begins to fall. Mitchell also reminded residents that a notice will be sent out shortly about the snow removal policy and schedule; higher-travelled streets are paved first.
Smith and Mitchell aim to utilize the quieter winter months to get a productive jump-start on the plethora of 2022 street improvement projects, including the West Lynn Street water project.
Cook then led the council into old business, and all approved Resolution 1344 for temporary appropriations in the year 2022 totaling the amount of $881,791.01. These funds will be to cover expenses such as the 2020 street levy, state highways, drug law enforcement, police education, capital projects at 370 East Main Street, and water and sewer treatment.
The council also approved new business item Resolution 1345, the Vacation Buy Back from Police Chief Eric Smith, permitting Smith to sell back one week of unused time at the cost of $1,033.37. The village will draw these monies from the general fund.
Smith took this opportunity to share news from his department. In 2015, former Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an executive order creating the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board, a law enforcement policy and procedure board setting up five groups of professional standards for Ohio police departments for which to remain compliant. These areas include standards regulating the use of force and deadly force, recruitment and hiring, community engagement, body-worn cameras, telecommunicator training, bias-free policing, investigation of employee misconduct, and vehicle pursuits.
As Ohio houses about 550 departments, according to Smith, some of these expectations are based on the communities of larger-scale departments with more than 20 officers, and are not as applicable to St. Paris.
Smith then announced that as of November 22, the St. Paris Police Department is in compliance with training records and reporting under the first regulation: the use of force and deadly force. This accomplishment marks the first time that SPPD has been in compliance with this executive order since it went into effect. Council members applauded the efforts of Smith and his fellow officers in making St. Paris a safer and more compliant community.
To close, Mayor Cook reminded the council that beginning January 4, 2022, the municipal building office hours switch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for all employees. Additionally, the municipal building will be closed on December 24 to observe Christmas Eve, on December 27 to observe Christmas Day, on December 31 to observe New Year’s Eve and January 3 to observe New Year’s Day.
The council also cancelled its upcoming December 20 regular meeting, as no action items are foreseen. However, the mayor can call a special meeting, given she allows 24 hours of notice to the public, should a need arise.
This meeting, and the end of 2021, marked the close of two council members’ terms in office: Chad Hackley, member since December 2019, and Steve Lett, member since January 2018.
“I would just like to ask the next councillor to continue the momentum,” Lett remarked. “We’ve gotten lots of things accomplished, and I’d like to see that continue.”
Cook also voiced her appreciation on behalf of the village for these members’ contributions to the community.
“I thank you for your service,” she said. “Both of you were appointed to council when we needed people to step up, and I appreciate that time.”
Before the meeting adjourned, the council members sang a hearty “Happy Birthday” to fiscal officer Marc McGuire.
The council’s next regular meeting will be held on January 3, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building.