(Posted July 23, 2015)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
A levy request to build a community center in West Jefferson will not appear on the November election ballot, but the issue will continue to be discussed.
“The latest figures we have are too high,” said Ron Garver, village council president, at council’s July 20 meeting. “We want to bring them down.”
Council authorized a feasibility study to determine what should go into such a center and how it should be funded. The funding study is not yet complete.
Talk of a community center has been going on for years, but intensified when Galbreath Hall was razed this past year, leaving the youth athletic program scrambling for new playing and storage locations. The village’s senior citizens also have been asking for more space.
Garver had led discussions at council meetings about the possibility of putting a tax levy on the ballot as a way of raising money to build such a facility. But there is also the question of operating it once it is built.
“I don’t feel comfortable asking the taxpayers for money to build it, then asking them again for money to operate it,” Garver said.
If council had opted to put an issue on the November ballot, quick action would have been needed.
“Our next (council) meeting is Aug. 3,” Garver said. “If we were going to have something for the November ballot, we’d have to act then so we can get it to the (Madison County) Board of Elections by Aug. 5.” The deadline for getting issues on the ballot is Aug. 5.
While there won’t be a levy on the November ballot, the issue is not dead, said resident Mike Conway, who served on the committee looking into the community center feasibility.
“It’s not over with,” Conway said. “We will be doing something next year.”
He also offered another perspective on the timing of a levy.
“The (Jefferson Local) schools have a levy on the ballot in November,” he said. “The schools asked us not to put an issue on the ballot.”
Councilman Jim King said he wonders how many people a community center in West Jefferson would attract, given that London has a community center and neighboring Prairie Township in Franklin County just opened a multi-million-dollar community center that features exercise equipment, a pool and meeting rooms.
Council continues to deal with issues regarding dogs. For the fourth consecutive meeting, resident James Aubrey asked council to remove “dogs” from the designation of farm animal as listed in village zoning guidelines.
Aubrey and his wife, Michaelina, have spoken at each of the meetings. They have several dogs and Mrs. Aubrey wants to operate a kennel on their property. Another zoning guideline, which the Aubreys also are challenging, states that residents should not have more than two dogs.
Garver said the questions are before the Planning and Zoning Commission and that council cannot do anything until the commission sends its recommendations.
Several supporters of the Aubreys attended the July 20 meeting and became confrontational during the public presentation period. Each time they shouted, Garver gaveled them to order. As they continued their shouts, Garver asked them to be quiet and finally ordered them out of council chambers.
The protesters were then escorted from the room by police officer Rob Campbell.
Part-time dispatcher hired
Council voted to hire a part-time dispatcher for the police department.
Stephen Holland was hired in at the 15-year level at a pay rate of $15.22 per hour. Holland is a former West Jefferson police officer who has been serving as a parole officer for the past several years.
Mayor Darlene Steele said the department is trying to establish a pool of part-time dispatchers so they will have enough to call on to cover vacation and sick days.