SIDNEY — Rainy weather in June held down attendance at the city’s summer recreation programs and receipts at the municipal swimming pool, according to an annual report presented to Sidney City Council Tuesday night.
Also at the workshop meeting, council witnessed the presentation of the annual Neighborhood Beautification Awards and discussed how to proceed with property owners who have not complied with a program to reduce the inflow and infiltration of clean water into the wastewater system.
Jennie Rogers, recreation specialist with the Department of Parks and Recreation, said a “wet June” affected program participation and pool attendance. The summer lunch program, which feeds children at six parks, the Alpha Community Center and the Salvation Army (new in 2015), served 9,739 kids this summer. The total last summer was 10,207.
The city also offers a summer backpack program that gives children packs of meals on Friday to eat on the weekends. The total this summer was 3,870, compared to 4,384 in 2014. Another reason for the drop in this program is that the Alpha Center decided to stop getting the backpacks after July 17.
At the pool, total receipts were $62,641.04, compared to $71,575.36 last year. However, pool rentals were up from 20 to 22. Also, swim lessons offered at the pool continue to grow in popularity, with 224 participants this summer, 187 in 2014, and 104 in 2013.
Rogers said the training the Sidney Department of Fire & Emergency Services gives to lifeguards was put to good use during an incident this summer when a girl suffered a spinal injury while diving. Lifeguards had the girl on a backboard and ready for transport when medics arrived. Rogers said the girl recovered, returned to the pool later in the summer, and was diving again.
Councilman Darryl Thurber asked if the pool staff who responded to this emergency received special recognition.
Rogers said lifeguards save people every day, so it would be difficult to single out people. “How do you recognize one and not the other?” she said.
Rain also affected use of ball fields. “A lot of games were canceled,” Rogers said. The number of games played was down this summer at all the fields.
The level of participation in the many sports and other activities clinics the city offers to youths varied compared to last year.
Rogers thanked the several corporate and private sponsors who financially support the summer programs.
Two homeowners who have improved their properties this past year were presented with the 2015 Neighborhood Beautification Award. The Citizens Peer Review Committee met Aug. 19 to review the nominations and voted unanimously to award both nominees, Kirby King, code enforcement officer, told council.
The award winners are 598 Chestnut Ave., owned by Jeff McAtee, and 1115 Port Jefferson Road, owned by Brad Dunham.
McAtee replaced several exterior features, including siding and the roof, a retaining wall, fence and patio.
Dunham renovated the exterior: painted the house, stained the deck, and installed metal flashing, and improved landscaping, the retaining wall and lighting.
McAtee said his improvement project began after a garbage truck hit his home a year ago. Dunham said the distinctive architecture of his house has prompted some people to ask if it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was not, but Dunham said he has talked with the architect, who is quite elderly now.
The award winners receive professional photographs of their homes and yard medallions. King thanked Sara Lawson Photography and Sign Pro for providing those items.
The city is considering offering loans to property owners who cannot afford to pay for inspections required under the inflow and infiltration (I&I) program. The city is in the second year of the I&I program, but there still are 26 properties from the first year that haven’t met requirements.
Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, presented information on a proposed loan program for inspections. It would be similar to the Community Development Block Grant program the city has to assist low- to moderate-income households with the repair portion of the I&I program. The city would budget $15,000 per year through the 21-year program to assist with the completion of the initial required inspection of the private sewer lateral for each sewer connection. The program would be a first-come, first-serve program, with the current areas required to complete the program being eligible first. Council will consider a resolution at its Sept. 14 meeting to establish the loan program.
Council has previously discussed taking legal action against property owners who don’t comply with the I&I inspections. That action is expected to be taken in cases where an owner does not qualify for the loan program.
In other business:
• Mayor Mike Barhorst commended the Shelby County Historical Society for its work in conducting the recently completed Week of Valor program. He also said he thanked state Sen. Keith Faber, who was here for one of the Week of Valor events, for Faber’s efforts in the city’s negotiations with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Barhorst said he has been critical of Faber concerning other state/city matters, but he wanted to acknowledge the senator’s help with the EPA.
• Clough noted that Republic Services will begin delivering new garbage cans to homes Sept. 20. He said Republic will change the cans if a resident gets the wrong size. The switch to a new automated pickup system begins Oct. 1
• Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan said tickets are almost sold out for the Sidney Historic Theatre’s presentation of “Frozen, The Sing-Along Edition.” The showings of the movie will be Oct. 10 and 11 at 3 p.m.
The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.