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2011 busy for Village government

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Yellow Springs Village government achieved a variety of accomplishments during 2011, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff during his annual report at Council’s Feb. 6 meeting. While Cundiff said it was difficult to single out specific accomplishments, some of the highlights were:

• successfully passing a renewal of the Village 8.4 mil property tax levy for general fund operations;
• starting the long-awaited zoning code revision project;
• signing an agreement for the development of a 2.5 megawatt private solar power project on the Glass Farm;
• instituting a new, more comprehensive tree-trimming program following the Village blackout from the February 2011 ice storm;
• maintaining a safe working environment, as evidenced by no Workers’ Compensation claims being filed during the year;
• receiving a clean audit report;
• collaborating with villagers on a Safe Routes to School grant travel plan, which was approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation;
• issuing permits for seven single-family dwellings;
• completing an evaluation of the library building;
• completing a preliminary water supply feasibility study;
• successfully bidding out and signing a new solid waste contract;
• completing Phase 1 of the streetlight replacement program, replacing former lamps with energy-efficient models;
• working with the Antioch Company to build a dividing wall at the former Creative Memories space, a change that allowed e-Health Data Solutions to keep its business in the village;
• continuing work on the Center for Business and Education;
• working with Artisan’s Distillery and Vitruvian Brewery to start up their businesses in MillWorks;
• continuing work on the Village Economic Sustainability Plan;
• making upgrades to the Skate Park, along with some repairs prompted by acts of vandalism;
• completing the wastewater treatment plant project;
• ceasing to fluoridate Village water;
• treating and safely providing 167.21 million gallons of water;
• treating and reclaiming 271.76 million gallons of wastewater;
Council thanked Cundiff and the Village staff for their efforts.

In other Council Feb. 6 business:
• Council heard from villager Jaye Drummond who requested that Village government ban talking on cellphones and texting while driving in town. Drummond’s daughter Lauren, 5, was killed in August near Springfield when the family’s car was slammed from behind by a driver who police believe was using a cellphone at the time of the accident.

“The state is not doing anything about this,” Drummond said, regarding a ban on cellphone use while driving. “Local communities can do something.”

Council President Judith Hempfling asked Village staff to research its options.

“I want to suggest to Council that we take a look at this locally and see what can be done,” she said.

• Jerry Papania delivered the annual report of the Village Energy Commission. Members of the group are Larry Gerthoffer, Theresa Graham, Eric Johnson, Papania and Council representative Rick Walkey. Former members Pat Murphy and Reggie Stratton both dropped out this year.

The group’s main work has been working with Village staff to implement, purchase and install energy efficient lights in about 80 Village streetlights. According to the report, the cost of replacing the 80 bulbs will be recouped within about five years due to energy savings. The board recommends continuing the project with more streetlight bulb replacements this year.

The group also continued to support energy conservation awareness and education in local schools, according to the report, and also sponsored a Chamber of Commerce meeting on the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, or VEIC/Vectren program for energy conservation, focusing on incentives and services available to commercial and industrial customers for efficiency projects. The group also worked with Village staff to evaluate the solar farm proposal; evaluated an AMP offering for participation in a natural gas-fired generation offer, and recommended scaled-back participation; and worked to include energy-efficient design features in the proposal submission for the Barr property senior housing project, among other projects, according to the report.

• Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance to transfer a strip of land parallel to the bike path to the owners of MillWorks, so that the business can improve its loading docks.
• Council unanimously approved a resolution to increase wages by 1.75 percent for certain Village workers (except those on individual contracts, such as the Village manager).
• Village Solicitor John Chambers reported to Council on the legal aspects of a recent request from John Eastman of LJB Engineering, consulting engineers for the Village wastewater treatment plant project, on a cost overrun the company has requested that the Village pay for completed LJB work. According to Chambers, the Village is under no legal obligation to pay the extra amount because Council did not give approval before the work was done. According to Eastman, the remaining components of the work remain undone because the company doesn’t know how to move forward. Council requested that Eastman work with Cundiff to clarify his request, and that Cundiff make a recommendation to Council at its next meeting.
• Council heard a progress report on a review of the Village personnel policy manual.
• Council heard from representatives of the Safe Routes to School grant program, who had last fall submitted the first stage of the grant to the Ohio Department of Transportation, which gave its initial approval. However, the program’s cost was initially underestimated due to use of the wrong software, and while the Village will only move ahead with components that are paid for by the state grant, the money does initially need to be in the Village budget. The difference in the cost estimate is about $176,000, according to a report from Cundiff. Council requested that Cundiff prepare a written recomendation for its next meeting.

Council’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 21, due to the Feb. 20 President’s Day holiday.

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