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Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Legal fees more than $167,000


By Margie Wuebker
MINSTER - A Columbus-based law firm representing the village in its legal fight with a former police officer has submitted bills to date totaling more than $167,000.
Village administrator Don Harrod on Tuesday night presented a June bill to council from Bricker and Eckler for $31,045.56, and said they could expect a similar one for July.
Harrod would neither confirm nor deny if the invoices are associated with the legal fight over the termination of former police Sgt. Kirby Cummins. The eight-year police department veteran was terminated Jan. 10 after the village charged him with gross neglect of duty, failure to follow directives from police chief Randy Houseworth and violations of the department's anti-harassment and corrective action policies.
When council members asked about the June bill, Harrod replied numerous filings and briefs had been submitted in the case.
The village is represented by James Petrie, a member of the firm, for a three-day jury trial set for Sept. 24.
The town and all council members are named in the lawsuit filed April 2 in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court. Cummins is seeking reinstatement and backpay.
Petrie and Cummins' attorney Dwight Brannon could not be reached for comment by the newspaper.
Council members heard first reading of a proposal to change the name of the park, south of Fourth Street, to Oktoberfest Park in recognition of the festival's upcoming 40th anniversary Oct. 3-5. Upon third and final reading, the council plans to erect a sign bearing the new name.
Construction work has been completed at Minster Machine Centennial Park, north of Fourth Street. New wiring and lighting were installed along with a brick wall in the area of the gazebo. The 40-foot-by-60-foot dimensions are reminiscent of the first church built in the community.
The next step is landscaping with the estimated completion date in late August, according to Harrod.
Garmann/Miller & Associates has completed replacement plaque designs for the veterans monument in the park. An area firm - 49 Degrees - is expected to install the panels and a sculpture at the monument in the coming weeks.
Council members also,
• heard third and final reading of an ordinance amending a facility-use agreement with the Minster Board of Education for use of the village-owned Seventh Street Park for football practices. School officials plan to include information regarding dates and times of events in the school newsletter instead of publishing it twice in area newspapers. Additionally, letters will be sent to adjacent property owners.
• heard first reading of an ordinance amending a section of the employee handbook dealing with rehiring retired employees to part-time positions with no benefits. The person being rehired would be considered a new employee. The ordinance was prompted by the mayor's recommendation.
• took no action on a request from Don Patch, transportation supervisor for Minster Local Schools, regarding the designation of a loading and unloading zone in front of Imaginative Beginnings on North Main Street. It was decided to hold a street committee meeting and invite Patch to discuss other options.
• received an update regarding Minster Area Life Squad getting a new medical director - Dr. Fredrick Haussman of Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney. After all members pass required testing, the squad will operate under the auspices of Greater Miami Valley Emergency Medical Services.
• discussed the need for a park committee meeting to discuss added safety measures after someone was hit by a foul ball at Four Seasons Park.
• learned bids for the 2014 minor street resurfacing project are due Aug. 8. Harrod said the bids will be reviewed with a recommendation to council expected Aug. 19.
• received an update on electric substation work in the vicinity of Arrowhead Golf Course. Harrod said Power Services has completed testing of the relays, breakers and transformers. Village employees are setting bases for some of the steel and pulling in control cable. The project is designed to provide greater reliability for local residents and businesses.
• listened as Harrod explained a high-service pump at the water treatment plant has malfunctioned. Replacement costs are expected to cost about $20,000.
• discussed possible liability to the village when juveniles run through sewer pipes on First Street and Canal Road. Harrod will look into the placement of bars or grates to discourage such activity.
Additional online story on this date
ROCKFORD - Village councilors are again considering revamping the stop signs at Walnut and Franklin streets after learning some drivers hit or fail to stop at the new sign erected last month. [More]
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