By: Jesse Davis
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Swanton Village Council discussed preparations for the total solar eclipse this April along with a wide variety of other items during its first meeting of the year Tuesday.
On April 8, a total solar eclipse will pass over the United States passing from southern Texas through Maine. Parts of Fulton County, including the bulk of Swanton, will be within the path where the full eclipse will be visible.
“I was talking to the commander of the state (highway) patrol post here in Swanton, and he said the last time they had an eclipse, they had traffic backups like crazy on the turnpike, which could eventually lead to [them] detouring and coming through Swanton,” Police Chief John Trejo said.
Trejo said extra patrols will be out to deal with any tourists pulling off to the side of the road on private property to observe the eclipse.
“I’m also going to go around to some of the gas stations to have them prepared … talk to them a little bit about having extra fuel, making sure that people are coming in and filling their tanks,” he said. “We just want to make sure everybody’s safe during that time. It’s going to be a big event.”
During the meeting of the Swanton Board of Education the day after the council meeting, Superintendent Chris Lake reported an announcement will be forthcoming that all schools in the county are going to close for the day.
According to Lake, there was concern from the emergency services in the county that should any emergencies occur at the schools, they may not be able to be reached due to traffic.
He said the last time there was a total eclipse, some small communities in the viewing path saw as many as 10,000 visitors.
Mayor Neil Toeppe urged residents to prepare the same as they would for a winter storm – making sure they have done any necessary shopping ahead of time and being ready to be stuck at home for a day.
“They do expect a crowd in the major area of the eclipse and we are in that area of totality,” Toeppe said.
Trejo added that hotels along the path of the eclipse all the way to Findlay are already reporting being fully booked for that time period.
NEW VILLAGE TRASH SERVICE
The council voted to approve a new contract for trash service with Klumm Brothers Waste Solutions. The business was chosen over competitor Stevens Disposal to replace the current service provided by Republic Services, whose lack of responsiveness to village complaints regarding their service caused the village to end their contract early according to Village Administrator Shannon Shulters.
Shulters said residents will first receive a letter from her indicating that the change in service and that they will have until April 8 to transfer their service to Klumm Brothers, and that they will then also receive direct contact from the business informing them how to set up that service.
LIEUTENANTS APPOINTED TO FIRE DEPARTMENT
After an executive session to discuss the matter, the council voted to appoint current Swanton Fire Department employee Jeff Dawson to one of two lieutenant positions, with an annual salary of $67,107.14. They also voted to hire and appoint to the other lieutenant position Sean Griewan at the same salary.
Mayor Toeppe was sworn in after winning his reelection campaign last November. New council member John Schmidt, elected to replace retiring council member David Pilliod, was sworn in.
Council member Derek Kania was named president pro tempore, taking over for council member Dianne Westhoven, who served in the role last year.
He was also appointed to the Fire Advisory Board, which carries some overlapping duties with his existing appointment to the Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.
Council member Schmidt was named to the Swanton Planning Commission to replace council member Samantha Disbrow, who was taking council member Mike Disbrow’s place on the Economic Development Commission.
The council voted to approve the ban on commercial marijuana cultivation and sales in city limits on second reading, while Mayor Toeppe indicated they had received the first bits of information from the state regarding its plans for regulations.
During the ordinance’s first reading, council members agreed the ordinance would be either updated or replaced with a more lenient ordinance once it was clear what the state regulations would be.
The council voted to approve the sale of multiple items of surplus village property. The council voted to authorize the application for a fire equipment grant, a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, and a Walmart/Sam’s Club grant.
The council voted to authorize the application for Incumbent Worker Training Program funds through Ohio Means Jobs, which could offset the cost of EMT training for firefighters by between 50 and 75 percent.
In order to follow best practices and eliminate the challenge of all three community members of the Planning Commission serving concurrent 6-year terms, the council voted to approve Robin Howard for a 2-year term, Kevin Young for a 4-year term, and Stephen Kasprzak for a 6-year term.
The council voted to appoint Kent Murphree of the Heban, Murphree, and Lewandowski law firm to serve as village prosecutor and solicitor.
The council voted to approve an annual agreement with the Fulton County Commissioners to provide bail bondsman services for the village at a cost not to exceed $3,000.
The council voted to authorize the village’s fire and police chiefs to purchase radios through Motorola Solutions and P&R Communications in order to take advantage of State of Ohio Bid/Ohio Procurement pricing.
The council approved updates to its general rules, the tenth such revision in the last 20 years. The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, January 22.