Summary of Bluffton Council meeting on December 13
The Bluffton Village Council meeting on December 13 was the first since acoustic panels were installed in their room on the third floor. The echoes were noticeably attenuated and made the continuation of the discussion much easier. As always, Mayor Richard Johnson led the proceedings.
Finance (Dave Steiner, Phill Talavinia) recommended applying for a zero-interest loan of almost $ 150,000 from the state, to be applied against the cost of approximately $ 250,000 of the realignment from Bentley Road to Main Street, which is expected to take place in 2022.
Staff (Mitch Kinglsey, Phil Talavinia) met jointly with Finance to hear several requests from village security services. EMS chief Jan Basinger called for a pay rise for paramedics, and fire chief Jon Kinn called for the firefighters as well. An investigation found that Bluffton’s salary was lower than that of surrounding communities. The commissions were favorable. Pending further Council action, hourly wages would climb to $ 16-18 depending on training. Police Chief Ryan Burkholder asked the committees to clarify a policy allowing police officers to be hired by private entities in the village who need security services. Finance office Kevin Nickel will be asked to help navigate payroll matters.
The Council proposed two bills:
Reporting to the Village Administrator, Assistant Bryan Lloyd announced that the last leaf pickup day this year will be Monday, December 20. He also noted that the water billing will change in February. Meters will be read at the end of the month rather than the 15th, so residents should note that a higher bill in March is NOT the result of a rate increase but a slightly longer billing period.
Lloyd explained why some Bluffton residents noticed water discoloration starting Friday, December 10. (Social media was abuzz when some residents noticed discoloration.) Lloyd explained that Ottawa’s 16-inch plastic water main was hit by a utility crew on the road. M around 11 o’clock that day. In accordance with EPA guidelines and under agency supervision, the rupture was immediately isolated with shut-off valves and a repair was made. The line was reopened after rinsing. The village teams have also rinsed in many other places. Therefore, a boil water advisory was not required.
EMS chief Jan Basinger said the EMS department has experienced record appeal levels this year, after breaking the annual record several weeks ago. Although the Department is strained in terms of available volunteers, almost all calls were covered without recourse to the assistance of outside agencies. Basinger said he was proud of his crews for this achievement and their dedication. Council members echoed his sentiments and a discussion ensued on how the village should properly recognize EMS and firefighter volunteers.
Police Chief Ryan Burkholder reported that at the department’s recent Christmas dinner, Eric Rayle was chosen by his peers for the 2021 Officer of the Year award. The Chief’s Leadership Award went to Dominic Francis for his dedicated work, including technological support for the department. Burkholder admitted to the board that he appeared in TikTok videos to promote the “Crusin ‘with a Claus” Christmas toy drive in conjunction with Jazzercize Bluffton. Most of those present, including this reporter, were unsure of what this meant but the toy drive was a huge success, with the last drop scheduled for Friday at Southgate Lanes.
Chief Burkholder also made limited comments on the shooting that took place overnight Friday and last Saturday. He explained that because the Bluffton Police Department retaliated on the shooter, the Allen County Sheriff’s Department became the agency responsible for all alerts and reports to the community. He noted that he and Lt. Matt Oglesbee were on the field in under eight minutes, providing a rifle bag and thermal camera mount. Ten of Bluffton’s fourteen officers were reported or on duty during the incident.
The Icon’s Dec. 14 report includes the full press release issued by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department.