By: Rebecca Miller
The regular session of the Williams County Commissioners on Monday, April 5, 2021 was short and sweet with just a few items approved, while the Thursday, April 8 session held a Discussion of DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) boundaries.
On the fifth, the commissioners voted to approve the minutes from April 1, 2021and the payment of bills, as well as signing the Dog Warden’s monthly reports ending March 31 and weekly report ending March 28; and a letter of support from Judge Gallagher.
The April 8 meeting began with the passage of:
-Resolution 129 Supplemental Appropriations on behalf of Commissioners, Common Pleas Court, Gamily and Children First, Hillside, and Veteran Services
-Resolution 130 Entering into a Capital Improvement Project Grant Agreement for MARCS Tower Project
-Resolution 121 Entering int a Surveyors Agreement for Village of Alvordton
-Resolution 132 Entering into an Ohio Development Services Agency Grant Agreement for Program Year 2020 – Village of Pioneer State Street Project Critical Infrastructure.
-Minutes of April 5, 2021 and payment of bills
-Also signed were: Special Hauling Permit 2021-22 Douglas E. Wilson, dba Wilson Excavating; Special Hauling Permit 2021-23 Miller Brothers Construction, Inc.; Special Hauling Permit 2021-024 Scherzinger Drillin, Inc.; Permit to work within County/Township Right of Way limits for Frontier Communications; Ohio Development Services Agency Job Certification Summary; Treasurer’s Financial Statement to County Commissioners March 2021; Notice to proceed and agreement between owner and contractor – project #3-2021 Bridge and Culvert replacement program; Asset Disposal Form – Transfer of Cabinet containing historical items to Williams County Historical Society
Commissioner Terry Rummel gave an update on the Call Center explaining that it has been “officially handed back over to the Health Department.”
He thanked everyone that volunteered and said that Apryl McClaine did a great job of managing the volunteers and getting the staffing.
Following a short recess, the commissioners went back into General Session with Mayor Carrie Schlade and Bryan City Council President Mary Leatherman present to discuss the DORA boundaries.
Mayor Schlade gave some background to the situation saying, “On November 12, 2020, we came before the commissioners (Engineer Wieland was also online), and we talked about the common sense approach to DORA boundaries for the public, where enforcement would be.”
“We understand that the map submitted to the State had it in the middle of the street where the County Commissioner property ends, for ease of understanding – that is the parking meters as it is an easy location for people.”
“We kind of asked the Commissioners to allow it to go up to the sidewalk area, grass area for placement and enforcement.”
“That was without any kind of formal motion, interpreted by the City that that was the agreed upon place between the City of Bryan and the Commissioners. I then received an email from Clerk Anne Retcher in early March (2021) that then described the boundaries as it was in the map.”
(Later in the meeting, Retcher clarified that Commissioner Hilkert had dictated the email, Hilkert said he was “charged by the commissioners to dictate it”, and Commissioner Rummel stated that he had not been in agreement with it.)
“So we just want to talk about the consideration of a formal action from the Commissioners to be very clear of where enforcement and signage need to go,” Mayor Schlade continued.
“If we put signage one place, but we are expected to enforce, or the Sheriff’s Department would enforce another place, that is not, I think, being good communicators with the community and outside groups that may come into the community to shop in our downtown stores.”
“With that being said, if the Commissioners would agree to the boundaries where they are right now, which is the grass area where the signs are, I know Council would be willing to do formal action and submit that to the State so that everything is legal with the State Department of Commerce.”
“Council has the authority and the ability to do that and change the boundaries at any point.”
Leatherman agreed with Mayor Schlade and Commissioner Rummel said, “On November 12, I said, and read it verbatim here that I would hope that we would take the common sense approach that the grass area would be the boundary basically, and that it would not try to enforce the center of the street.”
“We went through the conversation and I know the Commissioners are kind of on opposite ends of the world on this one, but I still agree that we should keep it on the grassy area and that is just easier for Law Enforcement to enforce.”
“So for me, I am not changing my position on what was said back on November 12.”
Commissioner Lew Hilkert stated, “As we talked, and I didn’t look at the minutes, but we did talk about the boundaries, but we said to make it easy to place the signs, rather than putting signs in the middle of the street, because if you go on the north side of the courthouse, on the east side of the courthouse, our boundary ends at the sidewalk where the curb is.”
“It is impossible to put signs, well it is not impossible but it would be difficult to put signs at the curb stating this is where the boundary ends.”
“On the parking meters, yeah, we could do that, but people don’t usually cross in the middle of the street where you see the parking meters.”
“And so I was with the understanding for placement of signs in the grass was the easiest place to put that. The resolution that we have on the books here at the Courthouse is No Alcohol and when you look at our boundary, I guess no alcohol means no alcohol.”
“If that means that the signs need to be placed out further, then they need to be placed out further. That is my opinion.”
Commissioner Brian Davis said he was not going to give his position that day, but ended up stating his thoughts and voting with Rummel at the end of the discussion to pass a motion that would not change the boundaries at the State.
“I guess my thought is that I would not encourage you to change the boundaries at the State, but that we might, for a period of time, embrace the fact that the sidewalk could be utilized. If it becomes a problem at that time, then we would re-visit it.”
More discussion followed his comment, determining that people who cross the sidewalk will not be “in violation” and will not be confronted by Law Enforcement.
Mayor Schlade pointed out that DORA is on a one year temporary trial, with some specific events (Alive After Five on April 15 and Spring Fling on May 22) taking place that will be part of that trial.
She shared her concerns, saying, “I don’t think any of us in this room will want the public to be charged with something based on an interpretation between two different entities.”
“Her responsibility to the citizens of Bryan and the Commissioners’ responsibility to the county citizens is “make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Commissioner Hilkert asked if alcohol is going to be allowed at Day in the Park.
Schlade said that they are preparing documentation that would allow a one-day beer or liquor permit, so “yes, there will be times where on City property we will allow for that.”
Hilkert also asked why the hours for DORA were set from noon to 11 p.m., especially as the courthouse is open and court is in session until 4:30 p.m. He stated that he feels it is “disrespectful of the courts.”
Mayor Schlade responded, “Well, in fairness, during the Council discussion on the hours, I did invite Commissioners to engage in that conversation. I know you virtually attended one of those meetings…I don’t know that anyone actually, from the County, was speaking in opposition in an open meeting about the hours.”
“That was a Council decision mostly for ease. They wanted to keep the six days a week the same, so on Saturday at noon, it wouldn’t have been an issue.”
“I think that had a County Commissioner opposed those hours for that reason, Council would probably have considered that, but that was not voiced when they were having readings and public meetings on the DORA.”
Hilkert reiterated that he thinks it is disrespectful of the courts and he hopes it will be considered when the DORA is re-visited in January 2022.
Commissioner Rummel asked that Clerk Retcher put that on the agenda for December 1, 2021 to remind them to address it. He agreed with Hilkert and said that as they are “paving new trails” they should adjust and change specifics as needed.
Hilkert addressed his concern that during the Car Shows people might slop alcohol on the vehicles, damaging someone else property of which they are so proud.
“If I had a car that I was showing and somebody was standing there with an open container and a buddy walked up behind them and didn’t know they had it and slapped them on the back…and it flew all over my vehicle, I would be a happy camper.” He wondered aloud if others who show cars would agree with him.
Commissioner Davis proposed, “for the purpose of compromise, we allow the signs to remain as is. They are allowed on the sidewalk, not on the lawn.
In December we will have a discussion again and we will meet with City Council to give you our views on the time and physical boundary and you may be required to re-submit updated boundaries based on the outcome of the meeting.
Rummel made a motion, Davis seconded and the vote was passed with those two voting Yes and Hilkert voting No.
Mayor Schlade stated that she agrees that a joint public meeting, with the judges in attendance if they so desire, would be a good idea.
“We are happy to entertain all of you,” probably in Council Chambers as the room is large enough for any public interested to attend.
She thanked the Commissioners for letting them address the Board.
Not yet finished for that day, the Commissioners went on to hold a Conversation about Motorola/Spillman Mobile Solutions with EMA IT director Jeremy Suffel, Sheriff Tom Kochert, EMA Communications Director Brandi Frisbie, Deputy Ken Jacobs and Communications Officer Mike Levy present. On Zoom, Patti Rockey and the media were present.
Commissioner Davis stated that the purpose of this meeting was “for the people that would utilize it to explain to us why the County would expend funds to buy this part of the solution that we currently have in our vehicles and our systems.”
Jeremy Suffel shared the history of the Spillman upgrade, which was applied for a few years ago. “As I have spent time in Dispatch and the Sheriff’s Office, I see some of the challenges that both agencies have, and the benefits that the Spillman Mobile can give both departments….The biggest complaint I get, or challenge I get from the deputies, is if they are in the field doing a report, they operate on the Verizon cell network.”
“If they get a call in the middle of a report, if their connection drops in the middle of a report, that report is gone. They lost that time and they have to go back, and so a lot of times you are pulling deputies off the road to do a report.”
He went on to explain that having the Mobile portion of the Spillman program would save lots of money, time and frustration. “With Spillman Mobile, they would have the ability to do all that in one platform, sitting at the scene.”
Deputy Jacobs shared some of the frustrations experienced when trying to run plates or other normal police activities. “With Spillman Mobile every car will have access…along with Dispatch…reducing the amount of typing the deputies have been doing,” he said.
It gives them more time on the road and less time repeating labor.
Auto population was spoken about as well, being the ability to upload to all the screens that need to see something. Training will be relatively easy as the deputies and EMA are already using Spillman Flex.
On line training is ready and free. A few of the towns in Williams County are already using Spillman Mobile and have found it very helpful. There was some discussion about how it is billed and who else might be interested in joining.
Commissioner Rummel said that he is highly in agreement with getting Spillman Mobile but is concerned that Suffel, who already has many projects going, will need to spend too much time on it, taking away from the other projects.
Suffel said that multi tasking is the nature of the job and he will be fine. Hilkert said that he is in favor of moving forward due to the level of efficiency it will bring to the two departments.
Sheriff Kochert and Brandi Frisbie both said they would prefer doing it sooner rather than later so that they have it in place when MARCS and another program are added.
Some discussion was held on funding and it was agreed that they would fund IT and the cost will come out of there. Following the approval of a motion to proceed, they then authorized the transfer request and the purchase order.
The Commissioners then went into an Executive Session for compensation, with no action taken, and adjourned for the day.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org