(Posted Feb. 14, 2018)
By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer
In the wake of the fatal shooting of two Westerville police officers, Mount Sterling village leaders are talking about ways to protect the law enforcement personnel who serve the local community.
The topic was raised at the Feb. 12 village council meeting, two days after Westerville police officers Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, were shot and killed when they responded to a 911 call.
“After what happened in Westerville, I think it makes people realize the danger that you face 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect us,” said council member David Timmons, referring to the Madison County sheriff’s deputies who provide law enforcement services to Mount Sterling. “Unfortunately, I don’t think people really realize this until something bad happens. I just want you to know I appreciate what you do for us.”
Council member Tom Ward echoed Timmons’ sentiments and talked about how the community can help.
“The block watch is up and running, and we have had a lot of people sign up, but we need more,” Ward said. “It is important for people to understand that this is about neighbors helping neighbors… I want to help protect (our law enforcement officers) and I want to see (them) go home every day.”
Ward said the block watch is designed to be an additional set of eyes for the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Mayor Billy Martin wants residents to get involved.
“Now it is time for Mount Sterling residents to be accountable instead of just complaining,” Martin said. “Jump in and help. You might even enjoy it.”
Keeping with the theme of accountability, council discussed nuisance and abatement issues and their efforts to address continuing problems.
“Residents should know, if you have junk, trash, piles of wood or tree limbs, we are working on getting rid of those things,” said Jack Dill, the village’s parks and recreation director and a deputy with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. “We are working on a front porch ordinance, and we will be nice about it, but firm.”
Council member Tammy Vansickle said residents can go to http://www.mtsterling.org/ to anonymously submit complaints about properties. Residents also can submit complaints through the village’s Facebook page.
“When I ran for mayor, I said accountability and transparency. Now it is your turn,” Martin said. “Some of the households in this community look terrible and disgusting. It is (not fair) to a person who is trying to keep their home nice (to have) a mess next door. We won’t tolerate it anymore.”
Finishing up the accountability theme, Misty Vance, utilities clerk, gave an update on unpaid water bills.
“Right now, we still have around $6,500 in delinquent payments,” Vance said. “These bills are very past due. Some are even from 2010.”
According to Vance, when she first started working for the village in 2017, Mount Sterling residents owed approximately $19,000 in unpaid water bills.
“We also are willing to make payment arrangements and have set some of those up,” Vance said. “There is no reason to get (your water) shut off. We work more with people than other utilities and are willing to work with people.”