SIDNEY — Police Chief Will Balling cleared up questions about the police department’s focus on Sidney’s opioid issued during Monday night’s Sidney City Council meeting.
Balling told council there were several comments on the city’s Facebook post about a drug search conducted last week by the police department. Several of the Facebook posts, Balling said, commented about whether marijuana should be legal or not and if the police department’s actions were correct when conducting the search, in which illegal drugs and money were recovered.
He said there were roughly 90,000 views of the city’s Facebook post about the search warrant. Most of the people who were in support of the police department live in Shelby County, Balling said, but a lot of others commenting are not from this area, or Ohio.
A “constant thread” throughout the post, Balling said, was on the opioid issue in Shelby County/Sidney, and “why not focus on that,” opposed to marijuana.
Balling pointed out the majority of the department’s calls for service and drugs charges are opioid related. Also, he said, the police department participates monthly with the Sidney Fire Department in the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force.
In 2017, there were 238 charges presented to the grand jury on drugs, Balling said — most of which were opioids. Also, there were 152 people indicted for drugs in Shelby County in 2017; very few were for marijuana, which was illegal, Balling said, and was not medical marijuana.
Balling noted that within the first few months of 2017 the number of overdoses started off “drastically high,” but the last six months of the year showed a “much reduced rate.“ Balling said he was not sure why ODs went down, but would like to see a longer period of lower numbers before calling it a trend.
In other business, council discussed its upcoming biennial retreat. City Manager Mark Cundiff presented council with topics planned for discussion, including: staffing concerns, council-staff relations, economic development improvements, branding, retail recruitment, neighborhood revitalization and connectivity improvements. After seeking direction of whether to hold a retreat for concentrated discussion or schedule a goal setting session, council agreed to a retreat on April 9.
Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, also sought direction from council about the decorative wall to be constructed along the state Route 47 corridor that is part of the improvement project. Clough displayed several options of the stamped design, except for the brick wall option, for council to choose from. Council has until next year to decide on the wall’s color, he said. Several members had questions about the wall’s strength in the event of a crash. Clough said the wall will be as strong or stronger than a jersey barrier, which often separates lanes of traffic during road construction. He said each option shown will be 42-inches-high of continuous concrete, and each costs about the same. Mayor Mike Barhorst requested for Clough to send the examples to each council member for consideration.
Near the end of the meeting, Cundiff announced the state auditor approved the city’s fund for a third fire station, that trash has been delayed a day all week due to the decision of the contractor that collects solid waste, Republic Services, not the city, and that three new Sidney Firefighters will be sworn-in on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 4 p.m.
City offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 15, in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Cundiff said.
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