Forest Cemetery discussed at village council

By ZAK GRIMM

“We’re very concerned about the look of Forest Cemetery,” said Fredericktown resident Linda Bishop, present at the May 15, 2017 regular Council meeting.

“It looks awful, like a hay field. I think it’s very disrespectful, the way it looks now. I hear that there is no money in the fund for them to keep it going, and I’m wondering what we can do about it.”

Council took note of Bishop’s concerns, and helped her and Litt better understand the current financial and staffing situation with regard to Forest Cemetery.

As it stands now, explained Mayor Jerry Day, the Village currently has no jurisdiction over the operations of Forest Cemetery, as it is owned and maintained by an association consisting of [now] very few members–two of the most active and aware being Nick Mullins and Dusty Frazier. To have any say in what happens within its boundaries, that group would have to officially transfer ownership and responsibilities to the Village.

According to Village Solicitor Adam Landon’s best knowledge, many of the group’s members have stepped down from their roles within the association to Forest Cemetery, and–in so far as Landon is aware–finances were in serious trouble not long ago. Also, Landon said that Mullins hadn’t been able to secure leadership beyond those already involved with Forest Cemetery–even people who would volunteer to do so.

Bishop acknowledged that she had spoken to Mullins, but that he had explained that he isn’t able to keep up with the maintenance and care of the Cemetery, and had been trying hard to get that reality to change.

It was Council’s recommendation that Bishop and Litt approach Frazier and the leadership of Wayne Township to get more information and perhaps further move the process of taking better care of the Cemetery forward.

Council then briefly examined Resolution 2017-11, which detailed the current status of wages and staffing of Village Employees. Without discussion, Council will move to a 3rd and final Reading at the next Council meeting in June.

Ordinance 2017-12 detailed necessary changes in the “Peddler’s Ordinance,” which allows solicitation for organizations and businesses within the Village, provided that several guidelines and rules are followed. Before the legislation was properly created and official changes were recommended and made, Council had reservations about a number of details within the Ordinance. Those changes have since been made, according to Village Solicitor Adam Landon.

The legislation now makes clearer distinction between the rules governing how charitable and religious organizations must conduct their solicitation operations–especially concerning how religious organizations have more freedom to do so.

Secondly, the changes made allowed the Village to create a provision within the legislation to account for some version of a record of individual households or businesses to refuse solicitations. There is also an option for those entities to post signage indicating that they would not allow solicitations to occur on their properties.

The amended legislation is also much more user-friendly for solicitors and peddlers within the Village, now that the law matches much more closely with the application that solicitors must use in order to lawfully conduct their business. Along with that streamlining, there are now options on the solicitation application for a one-day license, one week, or one month. Additionally, the Fredericktown Police Department will conduct background checks on each applicant wishing to solicit within the Village.

With regard to other details of the Ordinance, a slightly different time frame in which solicitors may operate each day was suggested, altering the current end of a 12-hour period by roughly one hour earlier, so that residents are not disturbed during a time in which many may not be awake to accept solicitations.

Councilman James Hobson questioned the fee schedule for solicitation applicants, wondering if perhaps the amounts were too steep. Village Solicitor Adam Landon said that he felt the Village’s fees for such work were high, and is willing to further explore other similar ordinances around the State to determine if a better fee schedule would be appropriate.

Thus far, the Village hasn’t seen complaints from residents concerning those solicitors who have gone through the process correctly, and they remind residents that any and all solicitors to homes or businesses must carry their solicitation permits with them, and must show them to anyone who asks to see them.

Councilman Bill Van Nostrand asked that the sections concerning 501c3 organizations be amended slightly to include similar organizations not legally considered “charitable,” but who may be conducting business beneficial to the Village, such as the Fredericktown Community Development Foundation–which is a 501c6 organization.

In New Business, Council was given the 2018 proposed Budget for the Village, and will examine it in time to have a Public Hearing by their June 19, 2017 regular meeting.

The Village is going to move forward with purchase and installation of solid wood fencing at the top edge of the newly-acquired parking lot, formerly owned by Ritchey’s Cardinal Market many years ago. Ideally, this fencing will be approximately four feet tall, with wide gaps between the placement of each 4×6 wooden post, so that the impressive view of the Kokosing River valley is least obstructed.

Village Administrator Snell said that a steel guardrail had been considered as a barrier, as had chain-link fencing. However, it was decided that a guardrail–though it would certainly prevent a car from accidentally traveling over the very steep embankment–would not be as effective at keeping children and other residents from going beyond the parking lot and into the very dangerous, newly-sloped area down toward the Owl Creek Bike and Pedestrian Trail. It was thought that the safety of pedestrians and children within the Village, whom may find the area just beyond the parking lot inviting, was of larger concern than the possibility of vehicle accidents.

Additionally, installing a guardrail would be roughly three times the cost of installing wooden fencing. Chain-link fencing, though able to be built higher than anyone would likely attempt go around, would be the least aesthetic of the three options.

Village Solicitor Adam Landon said he felt that the Village seemed to have taken reasonable measures to consider the safety of residents, and although a guardrail might seem the more “normal” way to protect the area, a well-built fence would also adequately serve the purpose.

Administrator Snell also talked about the upcoming street-paving project, saying that Kokosing Construction was the single bid, and would likely be approved as the bidder after July 1, 2017, at which point they could begin work. High Street, Taylor Street and Columbus Road are the main concerns for the project.

Four benches have been allocated by Country Manufacturing, one of which has been donated by owner Chad Chattin. One bench will be installed near Watson Street, a second at the end of Boyd Street, and one near Community Park at the north end of town, within the greenspace by the Owl Creek Bike and Pedestrian Trail (OCT). A fourth could be installed at the south end of the trail, by the Police Department, as there is nothing there at this time. With these plans, benches could be placed at intervals of roughly one-fourth the length of the OCT.

Council discussed and will likely allow for a fifth bench to be purchased, and installed at a second spot by Community Park near the bike trail, considering the volume of traffic there, as well as the many events throughout the year, including and especially the Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show, which consistently draws a large crowd, many of whom utilize the space closest to the OCT.

Before moving to Executive Session to discuss information related to Village employees [with no action to be taken], Council was reminded that the next Finance Committee meeting will be May 18, 2017 at 5:30 in the Village Offices where Council currently meets–to discuss the 2018 Budget. Public Works will meet on June 19, 2017 at 5:30, and will visit the proposed location on High Street for a guardrail, as well as the Shoemaker Building, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Council will meet again for a regular meeting on Monday, June 5, 2017 at 7:00 PM at the Village Offices on the Square. All residents are welcome to attend with questions, concerns or comments for your elected officials.