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Bluffton council meeting summary for January 9

By Andy Chappell-Dick

On January 9, Bluffton Council met for the first time in 2023, utilizing fourteen fewer ballots to select their leader than their D.C. counterparts. I'm not saying it's a who-drew-the-short-straw, but Councilor Jerry Cupples was expeditiously re-elected Council President as the first order of business.  With Mayor Rich Johnson absent, Cupples chaired the rest of the meeting.

Councilor Phil Talavina reported on the Safety Services Committee meeting. EMS Chief Jan Basinger had presented a proposal for increasing EMS volunteer incentives. (This meeting is covered HERE).

Three bills were up for consideration. The first was an annual ordinance that adopts the latest version of Ohio Basic Code as the Village's code. This is chiefly for the Police Department's day-to-day enforcement of safety and general welfare. The ordinance passed 6-0 as an emergency.

The second was a resolution adopting a new policy called "Complete Streets For All."  This document is the culmination of many months of work by a committee of residents, experts, and officials that will guide the Village as new streets are added or existing streets are repaired.  Councilor Joe Sehlhorst gave a summary slide presentation describing how streets can be better designed to be useful to cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other ways of getting around.  This policy is not a set of requirements, he emphasized, as each situation must be weighed individually. With buy-in from Council and the public, the ideas put forward can bring many benefits to the community. This resolution passed 6-0, and will move on to a second reading at the next meeting.

The third resolution reaffirmed Bluffton's relationship with Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission.


Jesse Blackburn and Bryan Lloyd followed with the Administrators' report:

Water Main work is proceeding well on Jackson and Lawn.

Village-owned land at the airport and a former well field south of town was leased to area farmers for another three years.

Grants were received in support of new metal detectors for locating underground pipes ($10,000) and to help purchase lighting for this summer's 103 Pathway project ($12,000).  

Another grant in support of the Village's upcoming purchase of a new leaf blower requires the last-minute submission of a video of town employees, using existing equipment, "showing leaves being loaded in an unsafe manner."  Blackburn says this documentary evidence will be filmed next Tuesday. (Should EMS be on call for that?)

The sewer plant received a five-year license renewal from the EPA to discharge water.  Plant operator Jan Basinger noted that several new tests are required, and the list of critical responsibilities runs to 42 pages of "very boring reading" but says he's taking a cue from his predecessor Dan Bowden and keeping it on his desk.

An awkward situation arose with AEP this past week. Blackburn reported that in the course of installing new poles along County Line Road, they poured a concrete footer startlingly close to the intersection with State Route 103. Should the pole be placed here, it would hinder sight lines for traffic and be a serious impediment in the future if the intersection is expanded. Work on that pole is halted while talks are held.  They have other poles to work on, and in fact, announced that Jefferson Street/SR 103 will need to be closed for 15 days in the near future.

Reporting for Safety Services:

Both fire and EMS Chiefs stated that committees have begun work on purchasing new trucks for their respective departments. Factory wait lists are up to three years, so decisions must be made far in advance of the actual replacement schedule.  

Lt. Matt Oglesbee reported that a granite monument in honor of Officer Dominic Francis, paid for entirely with private donations, is nearing completion and he asked for permission from Council to accept these donations for the project. 

The council meeting packet will be uploaded to the village website.


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