Village Commissions

Youth empowerment HRC goal

In the past year, the Village Human Relations Commission has worked to empower youth leadership, address citizen complaints regarding difficulties with police, introduce new events to strengthen neighborhoods and support those suffering from economic hardships, according to HRC member Joan Chappelle at the April 19 meeting of Village Council.

“The HRC is the social justice arm of the government in Yellow Springs, working to promote harmony and address any discrimination that occurs,” Chappelle said as she gave the group’s annual report to Council.

Current members of the group are Heather Wright, Patti Dallas, Chappelle and Council representative John Booth. The group currently has three vacancies.

“This is an organization that does great work,” said Council member Lori Askeland.

Last year, the HRC worked to strengthen youth leadership by organizing a Youth Community Building Workshop that addressed racism and discrimination, facilitated by Bolinga Center Director Dana Patterson, and attended by about 60 young people. It also successfully mediated conflicts between youth and downtown business owners over a bench that was removed, and facilitated the placement of a new bench downtown. The group also began discussions between skate park users and home and business owners near the skate park, according to the group’s annual report.

Regarding citizen/police relations, the group heard complaints from three citizens regarding police behavior during traffic stops or arrests, and one citizen complained of racial profiling. Two ACLU lawyers questioned the Village’s use of tasers and surveillance cameras. Several citizens who registered complaints were referred to Chief of Police John Grote, the report stated.

To help develop community spirit, the group initiated the first annual Neighborhood Block Parties at the end of August, with 15 neighborhoods participating. The group aims for participation by 35 neighborhoods this year, Chappelle said.

“We hope that neighborhoods get closer, safer and put more effort into developing neighborhood entities,” she said.

To help support those suffering economic hardship, the group promoted food pantries, free yard sales, more free activities, and the recently-formed time bank group.

HRC will continue to pursue its 2009 goals in the current year, with the addition of sponsoring at least one youth/police forum and creating a new Web site to enhance communication with citizens, Chappelle said.

In other Council business:

• Council approved the final reading of an emergency ordinance that slightly increases the pool fees for the upcoming season at Gaunt Park Pool. Most passes are being raised by $5, an increase necessary for the Village to initiate a photo ID system of identification. However, the pool hours and swimming lessons will remain the same, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff. Pool passes for the 2010 season can be purchased at the Village utilities office.

• Council approved entering into an agreement with the Greene County engineer for its annual cooperative paving program. Streets to be paved this year include Birch Street, part of Corry Street, Glenview, East South College Street, a portion of Union Street and two blocks of North Winter Street, according to Village Planner Ed Amrhein. The estimated cost for the project is about $236,000.

• Council heard the annual report from the Energy Task Force, presented by Jerry Papania. Most of that group’s efforts have focused on energy conservation initiatives both for Village buildings and the community at large, according to Papania. The $50,000 allocated for energy conservation in the 2009 Village budget was used to replace street lights with models that are more energy efficient. That effort is projected to pay for itself in energy savings within five years, Papania said.

The group also distributed compact fluorescent light bulbs to village residents.

Current ETF members are Papania, Reggie Stratton, Brian Straughn and Pat Murphy, with Judith Hempfling the representative from Council.

• John Struewing gave the annual report of the Village Planning Commission. Last year, the commission focused on a review of the Village Comprehensive Plan, efforts to develop historic preservation guidelines and a review of the Planned Unit Development, or PUD, process. In 2010, the group anticipates continuing to look at historical preservation and the PUD process, he said.

Current commission members are Struewing, Bill Bebko, Tim Tobey and Matt Reed, with Lori Askeland the Council representative.

• Council heard a report on the Chamber of Commerce marketing program, presented by Chamber employee Krystal Luketic.

• Council approved the appointments of Larry Gerthoffer and Terry Graham to the Energy Task Force. The appointment of Michael Cannon to the Cable Advisory Panel was also approved.

• Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, May 3, in Council chambers.

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