DUKE CENTER — Comments, concerns, and contentiousness were all present and accounted for at a two-hour meeting of the Otto Township supervisors Wednesday night.
Chairman Eric Barton fielded two complaints from residents, one regarding a public nuisance — an extra-loud vehicle making unnecessary commotion in Duke Center. Police Chief Donald Nies said he will make note of it and watch for the perpetrator. The other concern was an ongoing problem of raw sewage being illegally emptied onto Tom Merry’s Rixford property. The supervisors have been aware of this for some time and have solicited the state officials to help rectify the situation. Merry has been very patient and understanding, but wants the illegal action to cease. Barton stated that they are doing all they can and assured Merry it will be corrected.
Sharon Schwab reminded the supervisors and those in attendance that the fate of the Old Home Days is teetering on the brink of discontinuation and attendance at this Sunday’s meeting (Magee’s garage, 6 p.m.) may well determine whether the event, fireworks and all, happen this year and in future years. The committee persons have worked tirelessly for years to ensure it’s annual occurrence and are in dire need of new members.
The new bridge on Depot Street in Rixford will be funded by the township’s borrowing the funds from both their state account and their reserve account instead of conventional financing. The total cost will exceed $200,000, with an 80% reimbursement expected from the state. Northrock Construction of St. Marys is doing the work and hopes to have it complete in January 2021.
The blight ordinance is having a positive affect in the township, as several properties have been cleaned up and improved. One particularly troublesome property is being monitored weekly, with daily fines to be levied if there is not corrective action taken by Nov. 30. This is another one-month extension, and the supervisors all agree it will be the last one.
Supervisor Mark Palmer again questioned the solicitor’s opinion that family insurance is not part of the supervisors’ agreement. Barton and the third supervisor, Mike Ogilvie, explained the reasoning, Palmer disagreed, and eventually it was decided to discuss this at another time and place.
At the one-hour mark, Barton suspended the regular meeting and called an executive meeting for the three supervisors. After twenty minutes, the residents were informed by Barton that effective immediately he will be resuming duties of roadmaster, replacing Jeremy Delong. Scott Bell was named assistant roadmaster. No reason was given, and no questions were asked.
A lengthy discussion then ensued on the fate of the Otto-Eldred Joint Police Force. Eldred officials have proposed continuing the venture, but with the condition that Otto pays 55% and Eldred Borough, 45%. Objections were aired, proposals were presented, and various scenarios were discussed. Arguments for a fifty-fifty split centered on Eldred’s having many more businesses and more daily traffic. This was countered with the fact that Otto, with few businesses, has approximately twice the population and twice the area. The consensus finally reached was that the fate of the police force may well depend on the acceptance of this disparate rate, and somewhat reluctantly, the supervisors agreed to accept it.
With Secretary Cindy Gardner’s pending retirement, newly-hired Stacy Claycomb was present and was being informed of her insurance and probationary period. A back-and-forth (and back again) discussion among the supervisors ensued, with no apparent acceptable conclusion reached. The consequence was not known until the following day when Claycomb did not show up at work, making the decision to not take the position. The supervisors will again open the position and interview the other applicants.