CAMDEN — Six Preble Shawnee elementary school students participated in Camden’s first monthly village council meeting March 5. Each student sat with an individual council member, making and voting to approve various motions in the council’s stead.
“We just thought it would be fun to have the kids come in and participate in what we do,” councilman Kelly Doran said at the top of Thursday’s meeting. “And to have them think about the decisions we’re making, because maybe they’ll be future councilmen, or state legislators, or school board members themselves one day.”
Participating students included sixth-graders Addyson House and Shelby Lane and fifth-graders Jackson Finch and Kolby Morgerson.
The meeting started off with the reading and approval of the previous session’s minutes and the payment of various bills. Councilman Doran explained to the kids that each bill must be signed by council members before it can be paid.
“It’s like our homework,” Doran said.
Counsel also discussed renewing its contract for legal services with attorney Brian Muenchenbach. Second-grader Wyatt Finch moved to renew the contract on behalf of council member Debbie Hickman. The motion was unanimously approved by council.
Mayor Karen Moss explained to the students about the public participation portion of each meeting.
“Any of our citizens can come forward and share concerns, as well as any ideas they might have,” Moss said.
Council also discussed plans by the Butler County Educational Service Center to construct a storage building in a vacant lot near the Camden Early Childhood Center on U.S. 127. The building will reportedly be used to store various educational supplies the center uses in its programs. Construction could begin as early as this spring.
Blaine Singleton of West Elkton Intermediate School moved to approve the construction on behalf of Councilman Doran. The motion was unanimously approved by council.
Clerk of Courts Nancy Melton addressed council about efforts to collect payment for unpaid traffic citations. Melton first suggested turning over delinquent accounts to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Department of Collections during council’s Aug. 15 meeting.
“They go after everything, and from what I hear it’s not too nice,” Melton said at that time.
Melton announced during last week’s meeting that the plan to submit delinquent accounts to the Ohio A.G.’s office was finally “ready to go,” with a number of test cases scheduled to be submitted this week. Debbie Hickman praised Melton for her efforts in pursuing payment for the unpaid tickets.
“I was in her office recently, and it runs like a well-oiled machine,” Hickman said. “I don’t know how we ever did without that position.”
Councilman Doran agreed, and warned the students present not to violate traffic laws once they’re old enough to drive
“If you get a ticket here some day, you can come in and see the magistrate,” Doran told the assembled youngsters. “When you get old enough, don’t speed through Camden.”
Doran also raised concerns about violations to the village’s maintenance ordinances.
“There’s been an explosion of tires and things stacked outside people’s homes and even businesses, and vehicles parked in people’s yards,” Doran said. “This summer those tires are going to be full of water and full of mosquitoes. It’s just unsightly.”
The eyesore created by discarded vehicles and tires could potentially discourage new residents from moving into the village, according to Doran, as residents of unkempt properties can lower the property value of their neighbors.
“What kind of layers are we creating, what codes, and who’s going to enforce it?” Doran said. “People are hesitant to move in and put a lot of money into something when they don’t know what’s going to happen next door.”
In addition, Doran worried there were no ordinances preventing residents from operating a business out of a private residence.
“I don’t want to say people can’t do something inside their own home, but I don’t want somebody to open up a butcher shop next door to me either,” Doran continued.
Camden Village Council meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at 74 W. Central Ave.