Texting and driving law toughened; plus other CW news

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The law regulating texting and driving in Canal Winchester will get tougher on April 1, 2020.

Canal Winchester City Council passed legislation after a year of discussion and last-minute revisions at its Nov. 18 meeting.

“The effective date of April 1 was intended to give the city time to post new signage and educate the public,” said Council President Bruce Jarvis, who added city employees and safety personnel are exempt from the legislation. “It all comes down to common sense and how the law is enforced. Officers will first issue warnings to people for a period of time. Then they will issue citations for blatant violations.”

According to the ordinance, “No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any street, highway or property…while using in any manner an electronic communication device.”

The revised section does not apply if the device is used for emergency purposes, including contact with agencies such as law enforcement, health care and fire departments or if a motor vehicle is stationary outside a lane of travel.

The ordinance allows for, “A person conducting wireless interpersonal communication with a device that does not require manually entering letters, numbers or symbols or reading text messages, except to activate, deactivate or initiate the device…”
A driver is within the law while using a handheld cellphone in conjunction with

a voice-operated or hands-free device that is a feature or function of the vehicle.

Other CW news
•Council is proposing to re-affirm its support of the Canal Winchester Historical Society with up to $10,000 in funding for utilities, security and insurance for the historical society’s High Street complex. Funds are limited to $2,800 for gas and electric, $1,200 for security and telephone service and $6,000 in insurance costs for the historical complex and museum. Funds not used by Jan. 31 of the subsequent year must be returned to the city.

The historical society will provide quarterly financial statements to the city detailing the use of funds. If approved by council later this year, the agreement runs from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2022.

•Construction Services Administrator Bill Sims said reconstruction of the High Street railroad crossing requires the temporary closure of High Street.

“It should be a pretty short duration,” Sims said, “and they might do it in two days.”

Included in the project is construction of a sidewalk on the west side of the crossing. Sims is hopeful, barring any weather delays, that the project will be completed by the end of this year.

“Pedestrians won’t have to walk in the street any more to cross the railroad tracks,” said Sims.

•Urban Forester Dick Miller said a joint effort of forestry, construction services and Franklin County Soil and Water resulted in reworking a rain garden west of the community center.

Miller said the project allowed the rain garden to “better receive and filter pollutants that enter the feature. This filtered water runs directly into our Walnut Creek, helping to protect that ecosystem.”

The city also worked with Fairfield County Soil and Water and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to name to a previously unnamed stream that flows into Georges Creek northwest of the city.

“Newly named Pickering’s Creek’s headwaters begin north of Pickerington, flow through Pickerington Ponds, cross Gender Road near Lehman Road and join Georges Creek near Winchester Pike,” said Miller. “This makes the third stream officially named in the last 18 months at the request of Fairfield Soil and Water to help settle flooding issues in the upper catch basin and better understand the needs of future watershed protection for all partners here and downstream.”

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