Hiram – During the 105th annual meeting of Hiram Village Council on January 11, Mayor Lou Bertrand delivered his 2011 State of Hiram Village Address. He opened with a reassuring statement that “Hiram village government is in stable financial condition, operating in an efficient manner and providing good service to the public, our citizens, businesses, students, staff, administration and faculty of Hiram College.”
He went on to spotlight several village and college projects that will take shape in 2011. Last December, the Village received approval for a $50,000 NOPEC energy efficiency grant, which will be utilized this new year to make energy-saving permanent improvements in village structures.
Hiram College has received a donation of approximately $300,000 for renovation of the old Miller Dining Hall. Also, renovations to the Art Building for a black box theatre on campus will be completed this Spring. There are future plans to also remodel the locker room and Henry Field.
The college and village have pursued federal and state infrastructure funds to complete the roadway from Winrock Road to Hinsdale Road. Hiram Village has received a grant from Ohio Public Works Commission for $177,500 to fund a Hinsdale Road extension to meet at the north-south extension of Winrock Road. Although now on college property, it will be dedicated to public use. This grant will be awarded in July 2011, with construction completed within a year thereafter.
The village and college are in negotiations for the purchase of 5.1 acres at the old Hiram School property. A proposed Community Block Grant was increased from $82,000 to $113,000. The demolition of the old Hiram School is now almost completed for the bid contract of $66,900 to Ace – Zuver, LLC.
Through the auspices of the Akron Metropolitan Area Transit System [AMATS], Hiram has received approval for $145,000, plus an additional 15% for the East Hill storm sewer project. The $130,548 Curb and Storm Sewer project on East Hill (SR 305) was completed last June.
Looking for long-term solutions to rising water and sewer system costs, Hiram considered becoming part of a proposed county water and sewer district led in part by the Portage County municipal/village governments. Mayor Bertrand met with the mayors of Windham, Garrettsville, Mantua and representatives of Portage County, who together sought a grant to explore a combined water and sewer district. “However, neither Mantua and Garrettsville Village Councils would help us fund this $330,000 study,” Bertrand said. “But Windham Village would. It makes no sense that this region of the world that has almost 20% of the world’s fresh water reserves have some of the highest water and sewer rates in our nation.”
Last May, Hiram Village Council purchased a $422,000 2010 diesel Fire Pumper-Tanker, weighing 26,000 pounds, to be jointly owned by Hiram Village and township. In June 2010, a newly revised Fire and EMS two-year contract was signed with Hiram Township, going into effect this January.
The old Hiram firehouse has come back into the possession of the village and is currently being utilized to park village equipment and vehicles. Last summer, Hiram College President Tom Chema expressed interest in utilizing the old Fire Hall for the College’s Business Incubator Program. “We should all determine what use can be best made of this property,” Bertrand said.
All in all, Mayor Bertrand’s outlook for 2011 sees the Village of Hiram entering a period of renovation and growth, in cooperation with Hiram College, Hiram Township and neighboring communities.