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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Proposal would require costly insurance for teams

By Margie Wuebker
MINSTER - Village officials continue to look into the matter of liability insurance as it applies to third-party nonprofit organizations such as Little League, traveling baseball leagues and other groups using local parks.
Dave Knapke, a local Little League representative, explained to councilors Tuesday night the proposal that would require these leagues to carry liability insurance would cost about $2,800 for Little League and $5,500 to $6,500 for the men's league. The premiums would cover regular season action and not tournament play.
"We do not have that kind of money," Knapke said. "It would dramatically affect our program here in Minster."
The Ohio Plan, which provides property and liability insurance for the village as well as other municipalities throughout the state, has recommended clients look into developing some kind of agreement with groups using public facilities, Village Administrator Don Harrod reported during a Tuesday night council meeting.
Harrod added the matter of requiring liability insurance is commonplace in larger metropolitan areas but new in smaller communities. The matter comes down to how much risk a village like Minster wants to assume.
"I suggest we hold a meeting with other communities in the area to lay out some kind of plan," council President Rick Schwartz said. "We're all going to be in the same boat at some time or other."
Councilor Tom Herkenhoff pointed out the parents of little leaguers presently sign a waiver at the start of each season that holds the league and coaches blameless. Suggestions surfaced about a waiver holding the village blameless if someone got hurt.
"A waiver is certainly better than having nothing at all," village solicitor Jim Hearn said.
Minster has been fortunate in terms of liability. A young ballplayer suffered a spleen injury during tournament action but his parents did not pursue compensation.
Councilors discussed the mtatter at length Tuesday night but came to no conclusion, other than seeking additional input regarding umbrella policies and other coverage.
In other business councilors:
• Approved annexation agreements with the Jackson Township Trustees for the annexation of approximately 10.701 acres for Diamond Estates LLC and 4.288 acres owned by Gary and Mary Oldiges. The larger tract, a subdivision proposed by Dave Tebbe, is located west of Four Seasons Park while the smaller tract lays off North Paris Street. The matter now goes to the Minster Planning Commission.
• Learned application for the 2007 Firefighters Assistance Grant is nearly completed. The Minster-Jackson Township Fire Department is seeking $45,000 for the purchase of new radios and a fill tank for self-contained breathing apparatus. Notification of the grant award is expected later this year.
• Learned final application for a $1.3 million enhancement grant has been submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation. The money would cover the streetscape portion of the Fourth Street reconstruction project tentatively scheduled for 2010. Notification regarding grant recipients is expected this summer.
• Employed Dennis Hemmelgarn and Clete Prenger as part-time summer employees at the rate of $7.25 per hour.
• Discussed the possibility of holding a free open house at the municipal pool Memorial Day weekend to give the public an opportunity to see improvements made in recent months. Plans call for the installation of a fence around the children's splash area. The exterior fence replacement would be done in phases to eliminate closures as the project goes forth.
• Received a progress update on the Hanover Street reconstruction project. Underground utility work continues in an area between Second Street and Hogenkamp Funeral Home. Access to the funeral home will be maintained throughout the project, according to Harrod.
• Met in executive session to discuss personnel and later approved an unpaid leave requested by Minster Police Sgt. Beth Stine through May 15. No reason for the leave was given.
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