By Charlotte Caldwell
SIDNEY – It was a big night for the police department at the Sidney City Council meeting on May 8 with a police week proclamation, the announcement of police officer of the year, and a lieutenant swearing-in ceremony.
First, Mayor Mardie Milligan read a proclamation proclaiming May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week of May 15-21 as Police Week in Sidney in conjunction with the national holidays of the same name.
“It really is for the people standing back here. These are the ones that do the majority of the work and they make me look good. To let you know, it is truly for them that we’re here for. It’s for our fallen comrades across the state of Ohio and across our great nation,” Police Chief Mark McDonough said, referencing the other officers in the room after the proclamation.
McDonough presented Police Officer Matthew Dembski with the Police Officer of the Year award. McDonough said Telecommunicator Whitney Gonzales-Varela nominated Dembski and the award committee unanimously selected him out of five officers nominated. He is also involved in the department’s tactical response team, bike patrol, and honor guard as well as a drone pilot, field training officer and firearms range officer.
Four police sergeants were also promoted to police lieutenants and sworn in at the meeting: Jeremy Lorenzo, Christopher Burmeister, Sean Martin and Kevin Macke. Each of them has been with the department for over 15 years and served in many roles.
The council then adopted two ordinances; one assessing the cost of junk removal totaling $16,842.20, and the other amending a codified ordinance to include 408 hours of military leave within one year for public safety employees.
One citizen commented on the junk removal ordinance and said he agrees with cleaning up the city and has never had a problem with the city removing items from his property until recently when he was fined $55 for unspecified junk removal.
The council also adopted four resolutions including:
• Reappointing Tom Martin to the Board of Building Code Appeals. Martin has served on the board since 2008 and his new term will end on May 19, 2028;
• Authorizing the submittal of a grant application to the Ohio Department of Transportation for Ohio Airport Grant Program funds to rehabilitate and remark runway 10/28 at the Sidney City Airport. The total estimated cost for the project is $402,210.50, of which the grant would cover $382,100 and the city would cover $20,110.50;
• Authorizing the city manager to enter into a contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation for the 2022 Elderly and Disabled Fare Assistance Program. According to Transit Manager Ron Schalow, the program reimburses the city for half of the $2.50 general public rate for non-contract trips provided to passengers over the age of 65 and those with a disability;
• Adopting revisions to the Shelby Public Transit Procurement Policy to comply with the recent guidance issued by the United States Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration.
A discussion was held about raising contract rates for Shelby Public Transit, which would apply to various Shelby County care facilities and human service agencies that use the transit. The rates would apply from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, and would raise to $2 per hour, 75 cents per trip, and 20 cents per mile. The Transit Advisory Committee approved of the changes at a meeting on May 4. The rate increase will not apply to the non-contract service provided to the general public.
Vice Mayor Steve Wagner asked if all expenses will be covered with the new rates, and Schalow said it is close but it will not cover the costs completely.
During staff comments, Fire Chief Chad Hollinger said the fire department received a $26,139.26 grant to purchase LUCAS 3 version 3.1 chest compressors to revive people in cardiac arrest.
The next city council meeting will be held on May 22 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall’s council chambers.