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Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Officials extend invitation to residents to chat over coffee

By Margie Wuebker
NEW BREMEN - Village residents are invited to have coffee with their elected officials.
In an effort to improve communications with the public, New Bremen Mayor Jeff Pape has decided to establish times citizens can have coffee with administration officials.
The first coffee hour is 9-10 a.m. June 11 at New Bremen Coffee Co. & Books with additional sessions planned the second Saturday of each month. Pape will kick off the first session, and village administrator Wayne York and council members will take turns thereafter.
If the Saturday option does not work, the programs could take place at the same location on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m.
"We feel this is a more comfortable way for a person to contact us rather than meeting with council on a normal meeting night," Pape told council members during a meeting Tuesday.
Strategic planning sessions conducted by consultant Robin Elston underscored the need for better communication with the public and village employees.
Pape also announced plans to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. June 20 at the municipal building to discuss the village's weather warning system. Some residents were concerned that warning sirens were not activated during recent storms that spawned a damaging tornado in areas of Celina and St. Marys.
Current policy states the village's warning system will be activated when an official sighting of a funnel cloud has been reported to the National Weather Service or when such activity has been observed or reported to local law enforcement or firefighters.
If the tornado is spotted within 25 miles of the village and heading toward the village, the New Bremen police officer on duty contacts the Auglaize County Sheriff's Office by radio to request siren activation. Additionally, the sheriff's office can activate the system when a situation rises necessitating immediate action.
"Our system should not/will not be activated if the area of danger is in the northern or eastern part of the county and the direction of travel is away from New Bremen," Pape said.
The policy has been in effect since 2006.
In other action, council:
• Took emergency action to move water shut-off valves at several properties on South Walnut Street. The developer installed the devices away from the utility right-of-way and buildings were constructed over them. New legislation will mandate these devices must be located in the right-of-way to eliminate future problems.
• Approved on third and final reading an ordinance rezoning properties at 9 to 11 S. Main St. from residential (R-2) to commercial (C-2), clearing the way for Crown Equipment Corporation to create a parking lot.
• Learned two groups have approached officials regarding the southward extension of a commercial (C-1) area on Washington Street. The current area extends from Monroe to Plum streets. A public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. July 11 to discuss what stipulations in the existing code could allow small businesses without changing the residential feel of the area.
• Received an update from the tree commission on the community receiving its 16th Tree City USA designation during a recent program in Bowling Green.
• Learned bids will be opened May 31 for the Bear Drive reconstruction and the Walnut Street sewer replacement projects. The village already has bids of $158,000 for its annual resurfacing programs. York said once all bids are in hand, officials can decide on the scope of the proposed projects.
• Gave final approval to a one-year contract with New Bremen Emergency Medical Services for emergency medical technician and paramedic services. The village pays the squad $96,000 per year in three installments from a levy. German Township also supplies funding from a similar levy.
• Set a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building. An executive session will be held to interview candidates for the post of development director. Officials are hoping to hire a replacement as soon as possible for Karen Mauch, who is moving from the area.
Additional online stories on this date
GRAND LAKE - The first line of defense against Grand Lake's toxic blue-green algae is preparing to launch.
A Nebraska company Tuesday began mobilizing equipment at the West Bank boat ramp area to apply 2.6 million gallons of alum in the center of the lake. [More]
CELINA - Last month's tornado will cost the city at least $153,665.97, according to preliminary estimates.
The total cost includes estimated property damage, assistance from outside entities and tree cleanup at Eastview Park. [More]
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