Jackson Center Council declares ‘state of emergency’

By Matt Clayton - For the Sidney Daily News

JACKSON CENTER — It was anything but business usual for Jackson Center Village Council members during its Monday meeting. In compliance with temporary statewide directives allowing only 10 people or less to assemble for public meetings, only nine people met to address the village affairs for the month of March 2020.

Prior to the meeting, Jackson Center Fiscal Officer Bev Wren outlined how the meeting would be conducted in an email sent to those who regularly attend saying this would be an abbreviated meeting with no departmental or committee reports on the agenda.

Though qute busy juggling priorities in the current state of affairs, Village Administrator Bruce Metz and Mayor Scott Klopfenstein took time for phone interviews to provide the information used to write this article to keep everyone informed about what did take place at the meeting and share other noteworthy information to help alleviate any confusion about village affairs and provide encouragement to all concerned.

Council passed a resolution declaring a “State of Emergency” due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus pandemic). Metz pointed out that in part passing this emergency measure is just a technicality that eliminates a lot of red tape and paves the way for emergency assistance should the need arise.

“Though we are facing a variety of unprecedented challenges, we are doing everything in our power to keep everyone safe and make the necessary changes to do so until this thing plays itself out,” said Metz. “Declaring an emergency makes us eligible for certain benefits and assistance that would not normally be available but may be obtainable in the future due to the unusual circumstances, we just want to be prepared if things go sour. We are taking the necessary precautions to lay out the groundwork for future events should they take place. One of the primary focuses is meeting the needs of our first responders and providing them with all the resources necessary to carry out their services in these challenging times; we are hoping for the best but planning for the worst. This declaration is in effect for 60 days; we can renew it if needed but hopefully that won’t be necessary.”

The only other business on the agenda was discussion Item COVID-19; “Where we are and where we are headed as a village.” During this time of discussion, Metz outlined changes in village operations and future plans. Metz told council that he and his administrative assistants had revised the work schedule for the village staff to insure “social distancing” requirements would be observed for the safety of all concerned.

“Starting Wednesday, we will shift from our regular routine to alternating work schedules so our staff will not be working the same places or office areas at the same hours to insure their safety. Village vehicles may only be occupied by one person at a time and we have provided the means for occupants to wipe down and sterilize the inside of the vehicle after each use; all village employees are also required to take their temperature before reporting to work to ensure they do not have symptoms of illness.

“Zoning Officer Ed Maxwell will be working from his home; as for everyone else, the amended work schedules will be in effect until April 6. Of course any of this can change at a moment’s notice depending on any change of orders from Governor DeWine,” Metz said.

Council also gave its nod to move forward with plans to authorize a mutual aid ordinance as soon as Solicitor Mike Burton had the document ready for approval. The ordinance will allow Jackson Center, Anna, and Botkins to provide each other with mutual aid in the areas of water/sewer/ mutual public utilities/and public works systems should the need arise due to emergency situations that would leave any of the three villages short on help.

Metz and Klopfenstein expressed their appreciation for all the village employees.

“Every day when I walk into a warm house, take a hot shower, or get a drink of water I’m reminded of all our village employees do to make our lives better,” said Klopfenstein, “I know I don’t tell them that enough so I’m saying it now. I hope our citizens also understand the need to be patient and understanding while we are experiencing the ripple effects of this epidemic, we’re doing all we can to keep everyone healthy and maintain some normalcy in these demanding times.”

Metz agreed thanking everyone for continuing to do a great job despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been giving this situation 110% of our attention every waking hour of every day to insure the health and well-being of our residents and a host of others in our local communities. I’m very proud of the way everyone is stepping up to the plate, going above and beyond what is expected of them in our hour of need. While we are doing all we can on our end, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that most of what takes place for us as individuals will be determined by our own choices and sense of personal responsibility. A lot of this starts in our own homes and how we conduct our daily living; we are in uncharted waters here so for now we should all err on the side of caution endeavoring to put our wants off to the side and focus on our needs. Much of what we experience will be determined by how we interact with each other, how we react to things that happen and what we do in response to those situations; we must remain calm, think things through and do what is best for all of us, not just ourselves. We live in challenging times but I have faith that that people around here will all pull together just like we always have in the past, we will press on and we will get through this. Thanks in advance to everyone for everything they do help out, it’s what we are, it’s what we do.” Metz said.

Though closed to the public for the time being, JC Village office hours are 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Anyone having questions, comments, or suggestions for the village administration may call: 937-596-6314, or email him at bmetz@jacksoncenter.com or the fiscal officer at bwren@jacksoncenter.com.

By Matt Clayton

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.