Concerned Citizens of Burlington host county commission for weekly meeting, picnic

Published 2:00 pm Saturday, June 24, 2017

As they have done each summers for the past several years, the Lawrence County Commission hosted one of their weekly meetings at Burlington Commons.

The commissioners — Bill Pratt, DeAnna Holliday and Freddie Hayes Jr. — met with members of the Concerned Citizens of Burlington under the picnic shelter at the park for a dinner before conducting the meeting.

“Every year they do this for us,” Ed Moellendick, president of the Concerned Citizens, said. “We kind of expect them.”

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The commissioners said they look forward to the yearly meet-up.

“This is one of my favorite places to come,” Commission President Bill Pratt said of the Commons, maintained by the Concerned Citizens. “This is the most active park in the county.”

Holliday said, while she had been to the park before, overlooking the Ohio River, it was her visit since being elected commissioner last year.

“I always enjoy it,” she said.

With no major business before the commission, county officials gave a general presentation of their activities to the gathering.

County Treasurer Steven Dale Burcham spoke to the commissioners, giving an update on financial projects.

He said collections through the county’s website for the year-to-date are at $861,000 and on pace to exceed $1 million.

He also told the group about the recent refinancing of sewer bonds for the Solida Road system in South Point.

The plan, through the Lawrence County Neighborhood Investment Program, will reduce the interest rate for the village from 4.5 percent over 25 years to 2.8 percent over 20 years.

Burcham, who serves as chairman of the Lawrence County Land Revitalization, said the first round of demolitions of dilapidated and abandoned structures purchased by the county are set for July 3, with four to five planned for Ironton and one in Proctorville.

Demolitions will continue throughout summer and fall, and, by the time the fourth round is completed in October, 28 houses in the Burlington area will be demolished, he said.

County humane officer Randy Thompson spoke of the need to care for pets during the hot summer months.

One thing he advised was not to leave pets in vehicles with the windows up.

“It can be 70 degrees out, but, within a half hour, it can be 100 degrees in that car,” he said.

Thompson said, with summer here, fleas, ticks and flies are a problem, many of which he’s seen an increase in.

He urged residents to clean up their lawns of items such as old tires, which he said collect water and provide a breeding ground for pests.

“It’s cheaper to do prevention than to treat afterwards,” he said.

Thompson also advised pet owners to spay and neuter their animals, in order to control the population. He said simply keeping them in the yard is not a guarantee.

“Male dogs are very creative,” he said. “You can have a female dog in a fence with no other dogs, but still end up with a pregnant dog.”

Thompson said anyone wanting to join the Humane Society and help in its mission can do so for $5 a year.

The group will be hosting a vaccination clinic from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on July 22 at Tractor Supply Co. in South Point.

For $25, vaccinations and rabies shots will be provided, as well as a vet check, he said.

Dave Lucas, who serves as communications director for the commission, spoke about the efforts to livestream the commission’s meetings since he took the job.

“There’s not another county that livestreams their meetings,” he said. “We do as many as are technically possible.”

He also said the commission would be introducing the “Don’t give up the tax” campaign, an educational effort aimed at encouraging the public to shop in Lawrence County as much as possible to keep revenue coming into the county.

“We know how easy it is to cross the bridge,” Lucas said. “But we prefer you spend at our Tractor Supply and our Walmart. Buy here and buy local.”

Pratt said Burlington, home to Walmart, Lowe’s, Glockner and other major businesses, is the “economic center of the county.”

“Without Burlington, this county couldn’t operate,” he said.

Lawrence EMS director Buddy Fry gave an overview of emergency services.

“We’re busier than ever,” he said. “Each month, we see more calls than the previous year.”

He said EMS workers see the positive side of helping others through their job, but are also “exposed to the bad,” being first on the scene at shooting, car accidents and cases where children are injured.

“These people are tending to all the things that are happening in our society,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can and we’re doing well to keep up with demand.”

Pratt mentioned that Lawrence EMS has been designated as being in the top one percent of EMS services in the country for response times for heart attack patients.

The award, by Mission Lifeline, was recently given to the department.

“It tracks the time from when you have symptoms and call 911 to when we arrive and are at your side,” Fry said.

Pratt said a petition is circulating to collect signatures for a property tax levy to fund EMS services.

“It’s to let us know the citizens of the county think it’s important,” Pratt said.

He said 1,500 signatures are required to be presented to the commission before they could place a levy on the ballot.

Moellendick thanked the commissioners for coming and mentioned they the Concerned Citizens would be hosting their annual Veterans Memorial Basketball Tournament at the Commons on July 8.

He said funds raised would go toward maintenance of the Commons and anyone interested in sponsoring a team should contact Glockner in South Point.

He also mentioned that the free library at the Commons, set up as a community project by a member of the Eagle Scouts, is in regular need of donated books and encouraged people to contribute.

In the commissioners’ reports, Moellendick and the Concerned Citizens were praised for their efforts.

“This is probably the best organization in the county,” Hayes said. “You do a great job.”

Holliday also commended the group.

“With all the good happening in the county, the common detonator is great people,” she said. “And the Concerned Citizens is at the top of the list.”

She also praised the land bank’s efforts.

“This will give us an opportunity to get rid of all the blight in the county,” she said. “People want us to look good and I’ve said, many times, that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Pratt also thanked the group and said that the past year has been his most enjoyable since becoming a commissioner.

“It’s not just us, working as a team,” he said. “All of the officeholders in the county are working well together.”