Council hears 211 service, historical levy info

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — A update on the 211 service and information on the Historical Society levy were presented to Sidney City Council Monday night.

Shelby County Historical Society Trustee Roger Lentz gave a review of the Historical Society levy that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

He said voters will be asked to consider a proposal to support funding of the five historical societies in Shelby County. These include, the Anna district, Botkins, Jackson Center, Fort Loramie and the Shelby County Historical Society.

“It was during this bicentennial year, a countywide alliance of these organizations was formed to establish a tax levy of one quarter of a mill, for a period of five years, on the upcoming November election ballot. The owner of a $100,000 home would be assessed $8.75 per year, or a little more than 2 cents per day,” Lentz said.

The approved funds would be collected beginning next year, he said, and be divided among the five societies by a formula established by the Shelby County Commissioners. Funding would provide for operational costs incurred, continuance and preservation of significant historical items and educational programs for both school children and adults.

“It is a known fact that history builds a stronger community by appreciating and understanding our past, as we preserve for tomorrow those significant memories of today,” Lents said.

He confirmed to Mayor Mike Barhorst, when asked, the levy is the lowest levy that has ever been placed on the ballot in Shelby County. He also told City Manager Mark Cundiff the formula in which money is distributed is based on the local school districts.

Tilda Phlipot, Shelby County Historical Society director, who was in the audience, further clarified saying all the local money stays in the local areas that has a historical society. All other areas’ money will come to the Shelby County Historical Society. If an area, like Russia or Houston or Fairlawn, establishes a historical society their money would then go to them, she said.

When asked by Fire Chief Brad Jones, Phlipot said they anticipate to receive $293,000 each year for the next five years. Jones then asked what the intention is with the money. She said it will go toward helping with preservation, which has never has money put aside for such a purpose before. There are a couple of paintings that need cleaned, she said, which could cost as much as $10,000 per piece. She also gave an example of an area community’s Civil War flag that needs preserved that could cost as much as $100,000.

In other business, Shelby County United Way Executive Director Scott Barr presented council with an update on the 211 service and gave a brief outline of this year’s United Way Day of Action.

Barr refreshed council members on 211’s purpose, which is a three digit number people can call to find information about local services. The service has been available in Shelby County since Dec. 16, 2016. He noted it is an easy number for people to remember and is available in various areas in all 50 states.

The biggest benefit Barr said of using the 211 service is people calling are getting the correct information about local services available the first time they call.

Since established in 2016, the center focused on Shelby County received 1,888 calls, identified, 3,823 needs, made 4,459 referrals and averaged 63 calls per month through the end of June 2019, Barr said.

Several reasons people call to find help, Barr said, include finding food, shelter, transportation, employment resources, domestic violence help, crisis services, to numerous other reasons. The top five needs identified are for rent assistance, electric assistance and information, emergency shelter, substandard housing needs and homelessness.

The service is funded by the city of Sidney, Tri-County Board of Recovery, Shelby County Health Department, Shelby County Job and Family Services, Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Shelby County Commissioners and Shelby County United Way. The annual budget is $10,000-$12,000, with the city of Sidney contributing $1,000 annually.

The plan to further market 211 is to launch a digital, print and billboard campaign from October 2019 through June 2020.

When moving on the United Way Day of Action, Barr thanked City Council members for their support on this year’s third annual event. He said this year between April and June 19, 24 local companies and organizations donated 1,400 hours of time in service. The groups mulched, painted, removed old carpet, packed food donated to Agape Distribution for those in need, and assembled new playground equipment on various projects in Sidney and Shelby County.

Barhorst thanked Barr, Lentz and Phlipot for their presentations and the good work they do.

Also on Monday, after a discussion was on the matter, council members canceled City Council’s Dec. 2 workshop session and the Dec. 23 regular meeting. A special meeting was scheduled for Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. to swear-in new council members. Then council members will vote on the Sidney mayor and vice mayor positions. After the vote, those members will also be sworn-in as mayor and vice mayor.

At the end of the meeting, Council member Janet Born invited veterans and their spouses to a special Veterans Program, which includes a meal, at the Sidney-Shelby County Senior Center on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 11 a.m.

Barhorst also announced 39 Civil War gravestones were recently restored at Graceland Cemetery. During this time, he said the city was made aware of several mis-marked graves and wrong flag holders that need corrected.

City Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier reminded all of the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 12:15 p.m. for the newly constructed all-inclusive play area at the Geib Pavilion in Tawawa Park. He also reminded the public Tawawa Park will closed to vehicular traffic for the season through April on Friday, Nov. 1, at 6 p.m. The park will remain open for pedestrians.

Council member Jenny VanMatre was absent Monday and was excused by council.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.