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Barnesville Council discusses MLK holiday

BARNESVILLE — Village Council this week failed to act on one member’s concerns that the governing body did not properly honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Early during Monday’s meeting, which was held despite falling on the federal holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Councilman Jamie Betts made a motion to add Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an officially recognized holiday in the village, saying that he understood there had been a previous ordinance.

Council President Scott Gallagher said, “I think everybody was already OK, we just want to take a look at the handbook,” and later noting, “It can’t happen this year anyway.”

Mayor Dale Bunting explained village employees get a day off in honor of the federal holiday, but they typically split it up and take two half days off of their choosing.

Councilman Terry McCort said he thought in the past that council had observed the holiday and that village employees had their choice, saying that he didn’t know if it needed further discussion, but that he would go with whatever the rest of council decided.

Betts said, “I’m fine with further discussion, I just know that it’s a federal holiday and I just never understood why we didn’t observe it, and I want to talk about it.”

When Betts’ motion failed to garner a second, Les Tickhill asked that the issue be tabled.

In other matters, Councilman Steve Hill said he along with Village Administrator Roger Deal and Councilman Jamie Betts had met with resident Sean Hayes concerning a village-owned alley that intersects the rear of his property located on East Main Street.

Hill said that he and Deal had discussed their options including moving the corner of the alley where it encroaches on the lot, which he believed to be physically impossible or acquiring the property through a prescriptive easement since the alley had been situated as such for years.

Councilman Terry McCort brought up another issue with an alley located between Hilles and Hunts Avenues saying that John Jeffers had asked that the alley be “put back or moved,” adding that he was aware from past dealings that the village had not in the past “changed, reopened, sold, moved, or closed alleys,” noting that his daughter had a fence that could potentially have to be moved based on the outcome so he was trying to avoid direct involvement.

Hill said that they were already planning to meet with Hayes to work on a solution to their problem and an open council work session was scheduled for Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building with McCort requesting that they look into the HIlles/Hunts alley issue as well, time permitting.

Councilman Tony Johnson said he would be unable to attend the work session, but that he did not like the idea of taking an individual’s property and asked his colleagues to keep that in mind.

Hill, along with Police Chief Rocky Sirianni brought up recent issues with the heating sysytem in the Municipal Building which houses the Barnesville Police Department as well as other village offices.

Sirianni said that last week he had noticed a strong odor of natural gas, which upon investigation was determined to be the result of the furnace not venting properly due to the chimney being clogged.

Sirianni went on to say that with Mayor Dale Bunting’s approval Hill had made calls to begin to get bids to repair and/or upgrade the heating and air conditioning system in the building, saying “If we’re going to be in here for any extended period of time it’s going to have to happen. It’s ridiculously inconsistent, and probably not really all that safe.”

Bunting pointed out that many of the old radiator units don’t work and when asked by Councilman Jamie Betts if they wanted to have a vote to go ahead and accept the low bid once several had been received, Hill asked that they hold off until they get some more ideas as to the extent of work that was needed.

Hill also asked that a system be devised which would allow anyone on council to get keys so that anyone on council could check in on the Bohandy Building, which the village acquired in 2018 and is in the process of being renovated and leased to Barnesville Hospital.

He suggested that an extra set of keys be posted in the police station with clip board to be signed out and Councilman Tickhill asked for that to be added to the discussion of the work session being held this week, with Hill agreeing.

Hill also asked that Community Development Director Bill Knox act as an advisor to the Finance Committee due to his background in that area with Knox saying that he was happy to attend any committee meeting to which he was invited.

Hill said, “I think you should be, that’s my opinion.”

Councilman Betts chimed in with, “Sounds like you’re invited.”

Fire Chief Tim Hall informed council that he had received three proposals for the demolition of a recently condemned house on Arch Street ranging from $6,500 to $12,000 saying he felt the choice “was a no brainer” since the low bid was from Rosen Enterprises who had previously demolished the old hotel on Church Street after the village acquired it, and council agreed to go ahead with the demolition.

Council also approved Hall’s request to apply for a grant through the Bureau of Workers Compensation to purchase a washing machine that will properly remove contaminants absorbed by turnout gear.

Hall said the grant would contribute $13,000 with a village match of $2,000.

At the request of Village Administrator Roger Deal, council authorized him to advertise for bid the village’s 2008 F-350 salt spreading truck as well as the 2007 Chevy Silverado used primarily at the cemetery while transferring the 2009 GMC Fire Chief Truck to the Cemetery Department.

Deal explained that the village had two new F-550’s being outfitted and they would be in service soon along with Fire Chief Tim Hall receiving a new truck through a 50/50 matching grant making the other trucks in the fleet unnecessary.

Deal said he wanted to retain ownership of their 2006 F-550 dump truck for the time being.

Deal also informed council that due to the Fourth of July falling on a Saturday this year, their current fireworks contractor would be unable to put on Barnesville’s show on that day due to high demand from their larger contracts and they were in a similar situation concerning a July 3 display.

Deal said the contractor had agreed to let them out of their contract if they wished to find an outfit that could accommodate the Saturday display but that he anticipated it would be an industry wide issue.

Deal said that he felt having the display on Sunday the fifth with their current company was the best solution and would allow for an extra day of celebration at Memorial Park and council agreed to that date with a rain date of the following Satruday.

In other business, council approved paying bills in the amount of $171,299.68 and agreed to apply for another grant through the Belmont County Tourism Council for the painting of murals in the village.

Deanna Crooks spoke at the beginning of Monday’s meeting, telling council about the installation of a pet waste disposal station at Memorial Park as part of her Gold Award Girl Scout Project.

Barnesville Village Council’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 3 in the Municipal Building.

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