For the fourth time in as many years, Toulon has a new Chief of Police. Mark Olszewski was appointed Monday by Mayor Rick Collins to replace Doug Richards as the newest City Police Chief.
The City council unanimously approved the appointment of Olszewski without discussion and solely upon Collins’ recommendation alone. Richards has been reassigned “as a patrolman who will do several shifts a week,” according to Collins.
“Doug just didn’t have the time to be Chief,” Collins stated. One day, was the last The News had knowledge of Richards actually working while Chief. “I talked with him and he understands,” Collins explained to the council.
The tumultuous string of Chiefs under Collins’ term as Mayor runs from 28 year Chief Bob Taylor in 2009-10 to Terry Engels being appointed part-
time Chief July 2010 to Richards’ controversial appointment in December, 2011 to Olszewski.
Olszewski was hired as an officer in September of 2012 under a cloud of miscommunication among the Mayor, then Chief Engels, and the council.
Olszewski gave a report earlier in the meeting to the council that he had ordered and received a TASER X-2 weapon along with the associated cartridges and holster.
The cost is $2,081.01 for the TASER, which immobilizes a person if warranted in particular situations of law enforcement.
Olszewski stated he has completed the TASER training course and is now able to train other officers with its use.
At a cost of $2,037 to the City, the police vehicles are now equipped with the proper band radios that are required by the State.
Ron Roach, local Toulon businessman, passionately addressed the council members and told them, “I pulled my TIF (Tax Increment Fund) request because Toulon’s TIF is struggling.” Roach continued, “I’m not against the park, but TIF is for struggling businesses.”
He informed the council, “Parks are built by donations. $70,000 can bring businesses to this town.”
“This town is dying! That TIF needs to be invested into this town! There are serious issues that need to be fixed instead of building a park,” Roach pointed out.
After a 20 minute oration, Roach’s words can be summarized as the park should be renovated with fundraisers and donations, while the $210,000 in TIF money previously designated for revamping the City park, is better utilized to reinvigorate Toulon’s businesses and infrastructure.
Alderperson Connie Jacobson said, “Not one of us had a thing to do with that $210,000.” The alderperson misspoke on this point. There are two council members who did in fact vote for the $210,000 to be expended on renovating the park. Mayor Collins has opposed this project in the past and commented, “He’s got some points.” No other reply was forthcoming to Roach’s pleas.
Water and sewer Superintendent Shane Milroy spoke to the council about the distribution of sewer lines and the continuing problems there are at several locations around the City. He raised a concern about the age of the system and that the council needs to seriously think about the replacement of the 100 year old structure.
A lengthy discussion about water billing procedures occurred in which Alderperson Donna Lefler said, “We need a reconstruction of the billing procedure.” There is over $12,000 in outstanding overdue balances on delinquent water bills presently.
Lefler then gave a proposal with several steps to revise the procedure. Meters will be read the first week of the month and a bill would be sent out on the 10th of the month. This bill would be due in three weeks. If not paid, the resident would receive a past due notice with the meter being tagged a week later and shut-off two days after tagging.
Should the issue come to shutting off service, there would be a $50 fee to turn the water back on after the bill is paid. City Attorney Bruce Fehrenbacher is currently drawing up the new ordinance.
The first reading of it will occur at the February council meeting, with a vote at the March meeting, and if passed will take effect in April.
Bob Baer, of Wyoming, a certified arborist spoke to the council about the emerald ash borer infestation in Stark County. This insect attacks ash trees and once they are infested, the tree is destined to die, if not treated at the onset.
Baer stated, “The tree has to be chemically treated or use a chainsaw on it.” His presentation exhorted the council to begin acting now, or the tree loss will occur in Toulon.
Rich St. John from the Stark County Economic Development Partner (SCEDP) agency informed the council that the website maintained by the agency is for Toulon’s use and they should utilize it.
The council approved the $1500 quarterly payment to the SCEDP due this month. St. John also encouraged council members to attend the leadership program the SCEDP has instituted.
The energy aggregation topic was discussed by the Mayor who said, “I have not been sanguine about this.” Ameren or Integris would be the electrical supplier for Toulon, if the voters implement the aggregation plan on the April ballot. The referendum passed last November.
If approved, then residents of Toulon could see a lower cost for the electrical usage rates on their monthly bills. Unknown is exactly how much savings there actually would be with the plan.
The meeting was adjourned with no further business on the agenda.