JACKSON CENTER — Village Administrator Bruce Metz told the Jackson Center Village Council during Monday’s meeting the railroad crossing on East Pike Street (state Route 274) will soon be repaired. The repairs will be made as soon as the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) makes the necessary preparations for a temporary road closure to allow for reconstruction of the crossing.
Though the repairs should take just a few days to complete, it may be a month before the project is completed due to protocol that the state of Ohio must follow concerning road closures. Metz expressed his frustration with trying to get the project started but noted he is glad the process to make the improvements are finally underway.
“After making numerous attempts to contact the railroad officials and getting no replies for several weeks, I finally got a response from them last Friday,” said Metz. “They said they were moving ahead with plans to make the repairs and would be hiring an outside contractor to address the situation due to the volume of repair already in progress.
“That’s the good news, the bad news is before any repairs can be made there is a process that must take place to allow for the repairs including ODOT making a public announcement two weeks prior to the road closure,” said Metz. “Due to filing paperwork and making other preparations we are probably looking at least a month before the repairs are made. It’s frustrating but we have no other recourse, ‘the ball is in their court’ so to speak so we’ll just have to wait it out. Thankfully the gears are in motion to get it fixed, I believe the article that appeared in Sidney Daily News documenting the needed repair definitely put some pressure on the railroad to get the crossing fixed. I would like to thank Matt Clayton for mentioning the details and supplying a photo in his regular news coverage of our council meeting, it was a big help.
“One of our county commissioners saw the article and forwarded it to someone on the state level who in turn sent it to the railroad commission. It took a while for it to get there but once it did the folks at the railroad commission got to work on getting the crossing repaired,” Metz said.
In the financial report, Finance Committee Chairman Larry Wahrer reported several ups and downs in the financial status of the village due to incoming and outgoing funding for several projects currently underway.
“Our numbers were up when grant funding came in but went down when payments were made to cover the costs associated with a number of things we’re working on like the turn lane currently under construction at the new Airstream facility. Some figures are up compared to last year, some are down a little, but overall we are in good shape and thankful for all the progress being made,” Wahrer said.
In new business council approved an ordinance authorizing certain adjustments in the annual appropriations of public funds to appropriate $528 to the Shelby County Health Department for their yearly mandatory assessment of the village operations.
Next council approved several resolutions pertaining to a variety of issues most notably authorizing Metz to apply for grant funding for a number of projects in the village and creating a capital project fund for transferring dollars from the general fund to a another account to satisfy documentation requirements as mandated by the state auditor.
Council also heard the first reading of a resolution accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the Shelby County Budget Commission authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor. This is an annual process where information is submitted for tax levy estimates and documentation made of those estimates which allows for future planning based on those figures.
Metz informed council of the need to continue in their support of the Ohio Municipal League and their efforts to stop proposed changes by the state of Ohio on how municipal income taxes are collected and dispersed. Under leadership of former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the state of Ohio proposed changes in how tax dollars are collected, suggesting the local businesses bypass the normal payment to the municipalities where they are located and instead pay the income tax revenue to the state of Ohio which would then determine how the money is allocated. Metz was visibly upset when sharing his sentiments about the need to keep big government out of the affairs of the village of Jackson Center.
“This is just another back-door approach for allowing the state of Ohio to stick its nose into places it doesn’t belong, we have handled our own affairs quite well for decades and there is no reason we need to make any changes now. The state of Ohio needs to keep their fingers out of our cookie jar,” said Metz. “This proposal creates an unnecessary middle-man and added processes that are a lot less cost-effective, more time consuming, with no personal connection to the people who work hard to improve the way of life in the area where they live and work. Another big concern is there is no guarantee our money will stay in our community where it belongs.”
After hearing the update from Metz, Council passed a resolution to continue supporting the legal efforts to stop the process now being considered by the Ohio State Supreme court.
Before adjourning Metz shared updates on a number of on-going projects currently underway in the village noting the village staff is doing a great job keeping up with all the projects at hand.
Mayor Scott Klopfenstein also expressed his gratitude for all that is accomplished as well as his appreciation for all the “little things” the residents of Jackson Center do to make it a better place to live.
“I appreciate the level of service our council members, village administration and employees provide and also want the residents of Jackson Center to know the things they do to keep our town looking nice do not go unnoticed, I’m proud of Jackson Center and its people. What we contribute to the betterment of our community is a reflection of the character of the folks who live here and I appreciate the efforts of those who strive to make things better for all of us, thank you!” Klopfenstein said.
Council’s next meeting will be Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in Village Council Chambers.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.