ST. PARIS – Village council re-appointed former council member Terry W. Ervin II to council during the regular meeting Tuesday.
The appointment fills the vacancy left following the resignation of former council member Brad Kennedy in December.
Ervin had served on council for one term before receiving the fewest votes of three candidates in last November’s election.
“I’m just appreciative of the confidence that they had in me to re-appoint me,” Ervin said. “It was a close election and I appreciate the support from the village.”
Prior to the appointment, Mayor Joe Reneer said council had 30 days to appoint an individual to council. If council does not do this within 30 days, it is then up to the mayor to make the appointment without council’s approval.
Reneer said he was contacted by four candidates about the vacancy and received numerous emails, letters and phone calls in support of Ervin and resident David Palmer.
Both candidates were able to speak before council about why they should be nominated prior to council’s vote. A motion to nominate Ervin passed 3-2 with council members Larry Watkins and Tyler Adkins voting no.
Later in the meeting, council unanimously approved the advertising openings for a water/wastewater employee and a street employee.
Council agrees to move forward on kitchen
Council agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the Champaign County Local Food Council. The village will use the former St. Paris fire station as a shared use commercial kitchen.
The action was taken following a work session presentation from Champaign County Commissioner Steve Hess and County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandi Arnold. Hess and Arnold are both representatives of the food council.
During the presentation, Hess said the kitchen would provide a space that is inspected and licensed for someone who needs to process a food item for the market. Examples of food items produced in a commercial kitchen include a sauce, jelly or noodles that would be taken to market for consumption.
Arnold said in addition to the opportunity for individuals to produce products, the kitchen helps stimulate the local economy.
“When you look at St. Paris and if someone comes here to produce just think about the fact that they might also buy a tank of gas, or they might go to Braden’s (Cafe and Sweets) and get a bite to eat, they might go to Nanette’s (Country Kitchen) and take something home,” Arnold said. “Those are the types of things that we look for economic impact in the community. We’re not looking to benefit financially from this, if it were a break even endeavor I think that would be great for the first five years and that’s why we’re looking to you to provide a similar level of support.”
In order to staff the facility, Arnold said they initially would rely on volunteers and has worked out a preliminary arrangement with the Champaign Economic Partnership where they would own the equipment that is purchased in addition to equipment in the kitchen.
Arnold noted The Ohio State University has a commercial kitchen.
“A lot of people contract to go there to produce a product, but as you know that’s not exactly right around the corner and we also understand that at times people have to wait to even get access to the facility,” Arnold said. “We think this is an opportunity for Champaign County to be recognized as a food hub and that by creating the commercial kitchen it would be good not only for people that reside in the county but also those areas around us as well.”
As part of the memorandum, the village and food council agree to an initial five-year term and additional terms may be added based on any future circumstances which may arise.
The food council will carry liability insurance for the operation of the kitchen/retail operation while the village will carry property and casualty insurance on the building. The building will be provided by the village “as is” and all clean-up, preparation, and modifications necessary will be the responsibility of the food council in consultation with the village.
The food council will cover the cost of utilities for the operation of the kitchen.
Any proposed changes to the building must have the approval in writing of the village.
The food council or specified designee will handle scheduling and management of the kitchen and will be responsible for clean-up.
Hess and Arnold answered numerous questions from members of council and residents about the proposed operation of the kitchen and how other kitchens in the state have operated.
The food council’s Facebook page states it is a joint project of the Community Improvement Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of marketing opportunities for Champaign County producers of specialty crop, niche market or value-added production.
Council tables discussion on school Safe Routes
During the public comments portion, resident Brenda Cook spoke about the Safe Routes to School program and her interest in implementing sidewalks or multi-use paths from the village to the Graham Local Schools.
Cook said Mechanicsburg has paths to their school through the program and Urbana has solar powered crosswalks at their schools from the program.
“I would like some of that federal money to come back to St. Paris to help us get a multi-use path from the village to the middle school,” Cook said.
Cook mentioned the Safe Routes to School National Conference will be held on April 5 through 7 in Columbus and asked council to send Village Administrator Joe Sampson to the conference. She added she has spoken with Graham Local School officials about this proposal.
After some discussion, council agreed to table the discussion.
JSP Fire District year-end report
JSP Joint Fire District Chief Scott Massie presented council with the district’s year end report for 2015.
In 2015, the district had 187 fire runs and 668 EMS runs. Massie said the district had 133 fire runs in 2014.
Last year the district responded to 25 structure fires, 65 motor vehicle crashes, landed CareFlight five times and responded to Kiser Lake twice.
Massie said the district covers fires for about 85 square miles and EMS services cover about 110 square miles.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.