Hiram – During public comment, resident Jo Walsh Cobb voiced her desire that council should, in their review of trash and recycling service suppliers, give serious thought to returning to Portage County Recycling for village-wide services. She made the point that residents’ tax dollars paid for the Recycling Center, and that Portage County Recycling supports the local economy by employing local residents, supporting local educational efforts at schools, as well as local environmental efforts.
Chris Szell from the Park Board shared the 4th annual report of the Hiram Village Recreation & Park Board with council. He highlighted the progress made during 2016 at Hiram School Park (also known as Bancroft Road Park). Mr. Szell noted that playground equipment will be installed at the park as soon as weather allows in the spring. He shared the park board’s application for a grant from the Portage Foundation. If awarded, the funds will be used for site improvements at the School Park. He also noted that the upcoming move of the Merrill family from the Village leaves Susan Merrill’s spot open on the park board; Jo Walsh Cobb readily volunteered for the position. Mr. Szell and the members of council thanked Ms. Merrill for her service. They accepted Mrs. Cobb’s addition to the park board.
In his police report, Sargent Brian Gregory shared that the Department has several events in the works for April and May. At the annual ‘None For Under 21’ program on April 18th, they anticipate 1,500 – 2,000 area high school seniors to converge on Hiram College, just in time to deter drinking and driving prior to prom and graduation season. On April 24th, the department will participate in another ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ drug awareness program at the Hiram Christian Church; in early May, they’ll host a mature driver course. More details on these events will be forthcoming.
Lastly, Sgt. Gregory welcomed Officer Charles Sidoti, who was sworn in on January 31st, and Officer Josh Wilde, who was sworn in on February 14th. Mayor Louis Bertrand officiated the swearing in of both gentlemen to the Hiram Police Department. “Both officers are a welcome addition to HPD as well as Hiram Village,” Sgt. Gregory concluded.
In his monthly report, Fire Chief Bill Byers shared that in the month of January, his department responded to 38 calls in the village, township, and college, and provided mutual aid to other localities. The average response time is slightly more than six minutes. He also urged members of council and residents to attend the ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ event, as well as Project DAWN events where NARCAN kits are provided at no charge to residents to prevent accidental opiate overdoses. He stated that his department responded to an estimated two to three overdose fatalities in 2014 and 2015; he noted that the number doubled to six in 2016. In the beginning of 2017, the count has reached two fatalities due to overdose. “It’s an issue even in our little corner of the world,” Chief Byers remarked. “Along with a fire extinguisher and a first aid kid, there should be a NARCAN kit in every home, not just those with addicts in their lives,” he implored. He noted that doses of the medication, which is used to counter an opiate overdose, are administered by nasal spray and won’t interfere negatively with other medications.
Village Administrator James McGee shared that sewer and water-billing customers would be seeing slight changes in their bills to reflect the fact that the pressurized side of the system is costlier to operate than the gravity-based side. He noted that most people wouldn’t see a big difference in their bills, unless they don’t use the village’s sewer services. He noted that a letter would be sent to residents notifying them of the change.
In his mayor’s report, Mayor Lou Bertrand shared details of the governor’s proposal on central collection of municipal income taxes. The program would effectively replace the village’s agreement with R.I.T.A’s tax collection system. In its place, taxes would be collected and disbursed by the Ohio Department of Taxation for a proposed 1% fee. Council agreed with the Mayor, and unanimously opposed the State program.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held on March 14th at 7 pm; residents are encouraged to attend.