LAKEMORE Villagers filled the meeting room at the Municipal Building during the June 5 council meeting to celebrate the first day of the reinstated Lakemore Police Department.
The department held its first shift during the first minute (midnight) of June 5. About 30 people kicked off the shift at the police station.
Mayor Rick Justice said to appreciate the moment, residents needed to take a look back to 2009 when the village was placed in fiscal emergency. He said the village has been through a lot together since that time.
"We made a lot of sacrifices together," said Justice.
He listed three big sacrifices: reduction of staff for the village and a long time with no pay raises for village employees. Next, the tax credit was reduced and most of the village sacrificed. Another sacrifice was contracting out the police department to Springfield Township.
"Today, I would like to say, we are out of fiscal emergency, we are bringing some staff back. We have had the ability to increase some of the pay there, we brought the tax credit back to 100 percent and today, June 5th, is the first day we have our police department back," Justice said.
According to Justice, it took a lot of effort to get where they are today and he thanked many people including Springfield Township for working together with village officials on a police contract that helped to improve the village's general fund. At that time, the police department was using about 70 percent of the fund.
"The contract not only helped the village but strengthened the townships department," Justic said. "We worked with Dean Young, Debbie Davis and Bruce Killian back then and then Joe DiLauro as trustees. A big thank you to Chief John Smith, he helped us out a lot and now Chief Dave Hoover.
"When we first realized that the village wanted the department back, we put together a committee we started in the fall and brought ideas back to council and we got a plan to save some money. Springfield is a great neighbor to us. We will continue to work with them on other projects, such as the lake, zoning and more," Justice added.
He said many have stepped up to help paint, clean, scrub doing anything that was needed to get the building in shape for the department. He thanked residents, the newly hired police officers, the Lions Club and many others.
"This community really wants this police department and I am glad I could be a part of it as I am sure council is as well," said Justice. "It has been a community effort."
Councilwoman Laura Cochran spent many hours working to get the building ready and she said there has been such a great turnout from the community,
"So many great people that have stepped up and helped," she said. "It really has shown me what this community is about."
Those attending the meeting celebrated after the council meeting will cookies, cake, snacks, chocolate covered strawberries and an officer served up some tasty Jambalaya.
During the meeting, members of council approved:
- An ordinance amending the budget for fire contractual services and plaza road deposit.
- A resolution for a memorandum of understanding for job creations/tax revenue share. Justice said, "This an important piece of legislation as we benefited from it when Edwin Shaw left."
- A resolution appointing Clarence Bittner as volunteer driver for the Lakemore Fire Department.
- A resolution to hire James McKnight as a reserve police officer.
Second reads of legislation included:
- Ordinance to increase fire pay.
- Ordinance to increase income tax for street maintenance and improvements.
- Resolution to direct the Board of Elections to place an income tax increase on the Nov. 7 ballot. If passed by voters, the rate of income tax for the Village would be 2.25 percent as opposed to the current 2 percent. The increase would take place January 1, 2018.
- Resolution to renew trash services for five years. The contract would continue with Republic Waste Services beginning Aug. 1. The cost will be $13.01 per customer, per month. The price will increase annually at approximately $.40, ending at $14.64 June 30, 2022.
First read legislation included:
- A resolution for permission to advertise for bids and subsequent sale of property.
- A resolution accepting the 2018 alternative tax budget.
- Councilwoman Anne Snyder said the deal with the library has been finalized and the temporary location will be next to Tractor Supply in Lakemore Plaza. Library officials expect to be in the space by December.
- Cochran said there was a wonderful turnout for the Memorial Day Parade. She said they have the best volunteer auxiliary police and she thanked Dustin Boswell, Larry Kovach, Emery Pitman, Bill Luplow and Ray Anderson for their tireless work at the parade and she praised their loyalty and dedication to the village.
- Councilman Josh Timko thanked all of those who came out for the pancake breakfast on Memorial Day. It was the best attendance they have had in sometime.
"I am excited with the progress the village has made in the last 12 months with having our fire department 24 hours a day, seeing the water tower come back to life, seeing our roads improving, the back road to the plaza coming back this fall and now having the library, and today topping it off with getting our police department back," he said.
He thanked everyone in the community and said he is looking forward to the progress continuing.
The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. June 19 at the Municipal Building.