Council hears Municipal Court update

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council received the Sidney Municipal Court’s annual report Monday evening.

Anthony Kremer, assistant court administrator, gave his first presentation on the court to City Council, with Court Clerk Bonnie Gold, who is retiring this year, and Municipal Court Judge Duane Goettemoeller, looking on from the audience.

Kremer outlined the 2018 organizational chart, staff changes, as well as traffic, criminal, civil and small claims courts’s assets and liabilities changes.

He showed several charts displaying the break down of the total amount of cases filed between the courts from 2010 to 2018. Kremer’s report showed the total caseload has increased over the last couple of years by about 1100 cases, which he said is due mainly to traffic tickets and drug incidents. Misdemeanor cases have generally decreased over time, but he said although felony cases have bounced around some, they have increased over the last two years.

In terms of traffic cases, Kremer said OVI violations have been steady; they dropped in 2017, but increased again in 2018. Speeding, assured clear distance ahead and driving under suspension violations increased by over 1,000 cases year to year, he said.

Civil Court cases filed have been fairly steady since 2010, with the exception of a drop in 2013. Small Claims Court cases, Kremer said, are typically minimal with no set pattern, but there was a slight increase in cases filed from 2017 to 2018.

His report also included a chart that broke down the cases by agency in 2018. Forty-seven percent of the cases last year were from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, followed by Sidney Police with 37 percent, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office with 10 percent, villages/townships with 4 percent, state divisions with 1 percent and the dog warden with 52 cases equaling about 0 percent of the pie chart Kremer displayed. His report further broke down the case disposition and juror statistics.

He said the new Justice Reinvestment Incentive Grant (JRIG) fund works to reduce recidivism and change probationers’ cognizant behavior. The grant allows the court to implement the Pretrial Release Program to identify offenders who are appropriate for pretrial release from jail on bond. It pays for three full-time employees: probation officer, pretrial services officer and a clerical aide; and one part-time employee, a peer support specialist.

The Community Corrections Grant (CCA) targets moderate and high-risk offenders by diverting them from jail into community supervision programs. It pays for a full-time chief probation officer.

Both grants pays for much of the probation department’s counseling and treatment, which he said the courts were unable to offer prior to receiving.

Kremer also discussed the probation department’s 2018 statistics. Last year in the department:

• 738 new probation cases were opened;

• 77 percent of cases were successfully completed;

• 387 probationers were determined to be appropriate for supervision programming including:

– 72 hour driver intervention program

– Mental health counseling

– Anger/rage counseling

– Thinking for a change (T4C) classes

– MAT – medically assisted treatment (Vivitrol) program;

• Peer support specialist conducted 244 interviews with inmates;

• Pretrial services officer completed 177 presentence investigations;

• 1,428 in house drug/alcohol screens administered;

• 1,258 hours of community service worked by 125 individuals.

New programs for 2019 include: Moving On classes, Star House referrals, Smart Screen digital drug tests, and Intervention in lieu of Conviction.

In the bailiff and court security statistics, Kremer shared that 960 papers, including subpoenas, summons, writs of restitution from evictions, bank garnishments, were served; 1,321 prisoners transported to or from jail; and 63 percent of the 185 participants in the court’s license intervention program successfully completed the program.

When asked by Council member Joe Ratermann about his back ground, Kremer said he is from New Bremen and graduated from The Ohio State University for both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in public administration. He said he worked at the Ohio Legislative Commission in Columbus drafting legislation and on budget analysis prior to coming to work for the Sidney Municipal Court.

At the conclusion of Kremer’s presentation, Goettemoeller spoke up to praised he and Gold for their work before council. He also thanked council for how well the city is run, and the entire Sidney community for its support of the Sidney Municipal Court.

“I am losing a great leader in Bonnie, and I’ve been nervous about that since the day I started — she didn’t understand it. I think early on she thought maybe I was trying to get rid of her,” he said with a chuckle. “That wasn’t the case. It’s just that a wealth of knowledge, as you all know, in the city of Sidney. And I do want to take a moment to thank you (to City Council). I am very aware across the state of Ohio, I’ve compared … how well the city is run and the support you have provided us. …”

Mayor Mike Barhorst thanked Goettemoeller for his work in the court and the money he has brought in to help supplement the budget that the city gives to the court.

In other business, during the public comments portion of the meeting, Michigan Street resident Chuck Thompson spoke up regarding two ongoing issues he said he has been dealing with. First he spoke about loud semi-trucks driving by his house to a nearby business daily late into the evening. He said they prevent him from getting to sleep before midnight every night. Barhorst told him the city would again talk to the business’s general manager to ask for truck drivers to take an alternative route. Thompson was not satisfied with that response.

He also spoke about his disagreement with the city about a “junk” vehicle on his property. Thompson said the vehicle is legal. City Manager Mark Cundiff said city staff will be working to set up a new meeting with Thompson first thing Tuesday morning. Thompson did not appear to be satisfied with the city’s claim to look into both of his complaints. He expressed that nothing seems to change.

Cundiff and Barhorst suggested that Thompson did not get back or respond in a timely manner to the city’s attempts to contact him regarding the issues. Thompson said it didn’t seem to matter.

“You all enjoy this town that the judge says it was because it ain’t for me,” he said before handing council his copy of the junk vehicle notification letter he received last fall from the city and walked out of the meeting. “Peace out.”

During the staff comments at the end of the meeting, Fire Chief Brad Jones shared that Chad Hollinger will be sworn-in as city’s new deputy fire chief on Monday, April 29, at 4 p.m at Sidney Fire’s Station 1, 222 W. Poplar St.

Cundiff also shared that the city has a great need for life guards. He said they only have 10 out of the 20 to 24 guards needed. He said if they do not get more lifeguards on staff they will be forced to close off sections of the pool each day to accommodate the understaffed amount of guards needed daily.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer 937-538-4823.