LAKEMORE  After seven years of contracting police services with Springfield Township, the village of Lakemore passed a resolution to bring back the Lakemore Police Department.

At the Jan. 3 council meeting, members of council passed resolutions that would end the contract with the township department as of June 1 and bring back the Lakemore department with former Police Chief Kenny Ray to be reappointed as chief.

Mayor Rick Justice said he would like to be the first to say thank you to Springfield Township for providing police services.

"The contract we started back in 2009 was huge for the village," he said. "We appreciate everything they did and, as this moves forward, I want everyone to remember what it did for us."

Justice also said that when the village entered into the contract they were not yet in fiscal emergency but was heading that way. Not only did the contract prevent the village from going into fiscal emergency more quickly but, "It was the catalyst to get us out too."

He said if they had not done the contract the village would probably still be in fiscal emergency. 

"We have learned since then and it is the desire of the village to get our police department back," Justice said. "I feel like Springfield is family, like a big brother to us. They were there to help us out through this."

Councilman Josh Timko agreed that they were lucky to have been put into the situation where they had Springfield provide such great protection through the years and to help them get out of fiscal emergency sooner than anticipated.

"They (Springfield) have always provided a great mutual aid for the fire services as well and I hope to keep the great relationship the village has with the township," said Timko.

Councilaman Chad Lance voted against the termination of the contract at this time. He said he is not against them getting their department back and Kenny Ray being chief, but he believes the village doesn't have a precise plan in place yet and there is nothing on paper as to how the process of restarting the department will go.

"Putting a date of June 1, we may not meet that date," he said. "I don't see a need to terminate it yet. I am 100 percent for bringing the department back to the village. It is needed."

Richard Cole, who was elected as council president during the meeting, said Lakemore had a wonderful and amazing police department for decades and it is not like they are reinventing the wheel.

"We will put together a plan, it is going to happen," he said.

Justice agreed that there is much work to be done.

"We are starting with a blank slate and we want to build the kind of department that the residents want and officers want to work for. We want to make it even better," he said.

Cole wanted to make sure it was known that this move was not at all a criticism of the Springfield service.

"They are all great people and we thank them. They helped us get out of fiscal emergency," he said.

2016 accomplishments

Justice also gave a rundown of the accomplishments for the village in 2016 that included being removed from fiscal emergency Nov. 10.

"That was a six year battle with many sacrifices," he said.

Justice also said village officials were thrilled to reinstate the tax credit to 100 percent.

In addition, there was growth in the plaza, and the Hidden Lakes project that went bankrupt in 2004 had been taken over by another company, and the building of the first house is underway. Throughout the year, the village has had water line and road improvements and are planning more.

"We painted the water tower; the weather got in the way but it will be finished in the spring," Justice said. 

Wells have been cleaned, improvements have been made in the pump house, grants for the parks have come in. Justice said that 2016 showed him how much work had been put in by everyone.

"We will move on to 2017 with even more positive things," he said.

Municipal income tax reading

A first read of an ordinance that would increase municipal income tax was heard by council members. If placed on the ballot and passed by voters at the May 2 special election, the income tax rate would increase from 2 percent to 2.25 percent and go into effect July 1. The legislation stated that it has been determined an increase is necessary for general operations of the village, for the maintenance and purchase of new equipment and capital improvements.

Other action

- Council approved legislation that imposes a six-month moratorium on granting zoning certificates for any structures that's use would enable the growth, cultivation and distribution of medicinal marijuana within the village.

- Justice acknowledge families in the village who had lost a family member this past year with a moment of silence. He recognized firefighter Anthony Falcone who won a USA power lift competition. He was sponsored by Forever Fitness. He thanked Lakemore resident Larry Kovach, a member of the Vounteer Auxillary Volunteer Police (VASP) for volunteering 434.5 hours during 2016. 

- Councilwoman Tammie Coontz reported on accomplishments of firemen and completion of courses and certifications.

- Timko thanked the residents for passing the fire levy in 2016 which allows for 24 hour staffing of the fire department. He said Chief Brett Reinbolt has done a great job with staffing and providing training to provide the best service for the community.

Announcements

- Lakemore Lions Club will hold a spaghetti dinner on Feb. 11. More info to follow.

- A quarter auction will take place to support the parks on Feb. 25. More info to follow.

- Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for the VASP stop by the Springfield Police Department.

- Free kids art classes are held the second Tuesday of each month at the Municipal Building

- A free skating party will be held by S.U.P.E.R. Learning Center at 10 a.m. on Jan. 16 at the Springfield Lake Roller Rink. Skate rental is $3, admission is free.

- The Lakemore United Methodist Church will hold its Swiss Steak Dinner Jan. 21 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the church.

The next Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 17 at the Municipal Building.