Update on Mt. Sterling water tower project

(Posted Jan. 9, 2023)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The village of Mount Sterling has several infrastructure projects on its to-do list for 2024. The biggest one is a new water tower. An update on the project was shared at the Jan. 8 council meeting.

Mayor Andy Drake said the projected start date for construction is this August or September with a projected completion date in the latter part of 2025. The exact construction start date will depend on the completion of design/engineering work and the bidding process, he added.

The new water tower will replace the village’s existing water tower which is approximately 100 years old. The cost estimate, made in the spring of 2022, is $1.37 million. At this time, the village has $1.62 million set aside for the project in the form of state and federal grants, with no out-of-pocket money from the village.

The hope, Drake said, is that the $1.62 million will cover the project cost, taking into account possible cost increases since the 2022 estimate was made. An up-to-date estimate will be available once the design/engineering paperwork is done.

In case more money is needed, village leaders have been communicating with the EPA and Ohio Public Works Commission about the possibility of additional grant funds to cover the gap. Absent additional grant funds, the village could look at alternative funding, such as a long-term, low-interest loan or pulling from the village funds, Drake said, adding that such options would be last resorts.

“As a village, we are committed to making sure this tower is paid for in a responsible way and that we continue to manage our costs on this project as tightly as we can and the system itself as tightly as we can,” he said.

Vacant council seat
When Drake took office as mayor at the start of this year, he vacated his seat on council. The term for that seat expires on Dec. 31, 2025. The remaining council members must select someone to complete the term.

Anyone interested in filling the seat must email a letter of interest by 5 p.m. Feb. 12 to Courtney Bricker, village clerk and fiscal officer, at cbricker@mtsterling.org. For details, call (740) 869-2040, ext. 108.

The current five council members will interview each person who submits a letter of interest. They plan to conduct the interviews in executive session (privately behind closed doors) at council’s next regular meeting on Jan. 22 at town hall. After the interviews are complete, council will have the option to come back into public session at the meeting and vote on a replacement.

Should that schedule change, notice will be posted on the village’s website.

Building and Zoning
Kristie West, a representative with West Jefferson’s Department of Development, provided council with a recap of 2023 building and zoning activity in Mount Sterling. Mount Sterling contracts with West Jefferson for building and zoning services.

She reported that the village issued a total of 69 residential permits in 2023, eight of which were for new dwellings. The others were for items like electrical, mechanical, and HVAC projects and deck additions.

Six commercial permits were issued. Mount Sterling now has an ordinance in place that requires permits for projects that involve right-of-ways. The village issued one right-of-way permit in 2023 and has two in the system for review. Also in 2023, 22 zoning permits were issued and contractor registrations are up, West reported.

She also said she received an update on construction at Deer Creek Run, an Arbor Homes development that sits off of State Route 207. All 49 lots have been sold. All but four have houses on them. Of those four, two are in framing and two are in the permit phase, she said.

Other business
• At the start of a new year, council members must elect someone on council to serve as council president pro tem for that year. For the 2024 term, Becky Martin first nominated David Timmons who declined, then Ross Anderson who also declined. Bill Tilley then nominated Joyce Phillips; that nomination got a second. Martin then nominated herself; that nomination did not get a second. That left Phillips as the only candidate. Council voted 4-1, with Martin casting the “no” vote, to make Phillips council president pro tem for 2024.

• Council unanimously accepted a $300 donation to the parks and recreation fund. The donation represents proceeds from a raffle former mayor Marci Darlington held in December.

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