Grant coming for Tiffany Lane project

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 10, 2022

First reading held on police raise ordinance

SOUTH POINT — The village council voted on Tuesday to authorize Mayor Jeff Gaskin to officially apply for a grant to cover the cost of repairs on Tiffany Lane.

Gaskin said the village has been offered an emergency $500,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Public Works, which would also include $328,000 in no interest loans and the village would pay the difference on the $900,000 project.

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The road has been a longstanding issue for the village.

“It was never built properly,” Gaskin said, noting that 25 years ago, concrete was poured on sand on the hill to construct it.

“It’s been falling off,” he said. “The water is getting under the concrete and washing out the sand.”

Gaskin said the repairs would include going down 14 inches, then bringing the road up 10 inches to a proper base, followed by 4 inches of new blacktop.

“There will also be new curbs and drainage,” he said.

Gaskin said the road was in such a state that the village had never accepted it as a proper street.

“But, after 18 years, it belongs to the village,” he said.

He said he expects work on the road would begin next spring.

Gaskin said this project follows $800,000 in grants in recent years for new sidewalks in the village, and an expected $900,000 for improvements to the sewer system in the neighborhood of a planned rehabilitation hospital on Commerce Drive.

“It looks good for service in that neighborhood,” he said. “The current system couldn’t handle it.”

The council also revisited the issue of raises for village police officers.

After members voted last month with a resolution for the raises, they followed up at Tuesday’s meeting of council with an ordinance for the increase.

“Council voted among themselves last month to give the raise,” Gaskin said. “But it has to be done by ordinance to stay as law.”

Gaskin asked the council how they wanted to pay for the raises.

There was tense discussion of two options, increasing patrols on U.S. 52 or using the village’s general fund.

Police Chief Chris Mahjer said there was money in the general fund that could cover it, though some council members took issue with that option.

“That’s up to you,” Mahjer said. “Legislators create how funding is made.”

Mahjer said he was “left with no other recourse,” than for council to use the general fund or the department to write more tickets.

“But we can not expect to run a full police department off tickets,” he said. “I am not that person.

Gaskin said he trusted Mahjer to “handle it properly” if patrols were increased.

“That’s where we left it last month,” Gaskin said. “That’s where we came into it tonight.”

The council then voted on suspending the three-reading rule for the ordinance, which would call for the raises and increased U.S. 52 patrols, but that failed, as there were not enough council members present (Brad Adkins and Mary Cogan were absent) to do so.

Instead, a first reading was voted on, which passed.

In other business, the council:
• Heard from local educator Michael Clay, who was an organizer of the golf cart parade over the Independence Day holiday. Clay said they had great publicity for the event and hoped to repeat it in the future. He also initiated a discussion with the council on licensing and inspections for golf carts in the village.

• Heard from residents about an invasive bamboo issue regarding a neighbor’s property.

• Heard from village administrator Russ McDonald, who said the village treated 22 million gallons of water and 24 million gallons of sewer in the past month, and that crews responded to two line breaks in that time frame.

He also said that work on the current water line project is two-thirds complete and that his department recently had a visit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the inspector was “very impressed” with upgrades the village had made.

• Heard from Mahjer, who said that police officers had made a major fentanyl bust on U.S. 52 in the past month, intercepting 12 grams of fentanyl heroin.

The chief said this was a strong enough to kill the entire population of South Point or “half the population of Lawrence County.”