WEST ALEXANDRIA — Thanks to the recent voter approval of a tax levy, the Village of West Alexandria has decided to move forward on the building of a new Fire and EMS facility.
During their meeting on Monday, March 21, WA Village Council voted on and created a committee to oversee the current operation, as well as bring in an architectural design engineer to get the project started. That position is currently posted, and they are taking applications.
The committee will be made up of two citizens of the village, three employees of the Fire and EMS departments, and two members of village council. Jenny Schenk and Mark Daniel will be the citizens while Fire Chief Jeff Shafer, Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Hickey, and Sherri Scott will represent the emergency services. Council President Holly Robbins along with Deb Smith are the members of council.
Shafer, during his report to council, gave a “big salute” to the village.
“We are so proud that you supported us in that way,” he told those in attendance.
He noted that their dispatch and route times have gone from 7.1 minutes in 2015 down to 4.3 minutes this year while also hiring Josh Forrer as a part-time general laborer at $9 per hour and hiring Morgan Robbins as a volunteer fire fighter.
Both hirings passed unanimously by council with Robbins voluntarily abstaining from the vote regarding her daughter, Morgan.
Shafer also apologized to Village Administrator Chris Day for his comments in last month’s meeting and congratulated him for winning the election for county commissioner.
There were four ordinances read aloud during the meeting, with one being the first reading, two being in their second reading, and the fourth being in its final reading.
The ordinance in its final reading was concerning a limitation on departmental spending of $2,500 with the village administrator exempt from the limit. All purchases above that amount are required to go to council for a vote. It passed in a 6-0 decision.
The second readings were concerning the elimination of the general service employee and for a compensation schedule while would provide, among other things, a raise for the volunteer Fire and EMS workers.
Due to language in the ordinance concerning the elimination of the general service position, the ordinance for compensation cannot pass until the first one does.
Both will be up for vote in next month’s meeting. If the first ordinance does not pass, language may need to be changed for the compensation schedule ordinance for future voting.
Finally, in its first reading was an ordinance on the procedure for the expenditure of public funds for purchase of coffee, meals, non-alcoholic beverages, other amenities for municipal officers, employees, or other persons.
These purchases, if the ordinance passes, will be prohibited unless approved by the council.
In other business, Day reported the street department is currently trying to patch pot holes around the village, but they need dry weather to “make them stick.”
He also confirmed the state will begin paving on Ohio 503, beginning “just south of town” before Factory Road and paving all the way through the county – skipping the Village of Lewisburg.
Citizen Susan Shafer addressed council at the beginning of the meeting. She made clear before speaking that the information she was going to provide does not come from confidential sources and most come from her own memory.
She directly spoke to the idea there may be nepotism, as brought up in the last meeting, regarding the fire department. Shafer took time to remind council of the “historical precedent” that has been set in the village over the last “30-40 years.”
Shafer used examples of old EMS heads Rhonda Martin and Carl Reckers, both who had family members working under them. She also addressed the same in the fire and police departments as Bill Bliss and Chuck Webb both had sons-in-law working under them. She added, Village Administrator David Mays and his wife Karen were both employees of the village.
“Should the topic of nepotism arise, be prepared to discuss the last 30-40 years of history set by this body,” she said. “Call it what you want, I call it a legacy – a legacy that this community has families with generations of members that are willing to serve. The potential for one small village fire department to have four third-generation members and one fourth-generation member serving at the same time – I think we’d be hard pressed to find that sort of legacy anywhere else in this county, possibly in this region.”
She also addressed the current issue with raises for the volunteer employees, citing numerous occasions of holidays lost and precious family time lost due to their dedication to the safety of the village.
The next village council meeting will be on Monday, April 18 at 7 p.m. at the water plant.