Village aims for Feb. 1 closing on church purchase

(Posted Jan. 19, 2016)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

West Jefferson village council is another step closer to purchasing the Zion Lutheran Church for use as a community center.

Council members voted 6-1 on Jan. 16 to make supplemental appropriations to the budget to purchase the church property on South Center Street. One appropriation was for $100,000 from the general fund and the other was $75,000 from the capital improvement fund. The money will be used for the purchase, closing costs and minor repairs.

Casting the lone “no” vote was Randy Otis, who a month earlier voted against the purchase, saying the public needed an opportunity to offer input.

Mayor Ray Martin thanked council for its support in allowing acquisition of the facility and said he hopes to close on the property Feb. 1.

Parks and Recreation Director Marci Darlington has been working on a schedule for activities to be held in the building.

“I want to make you proud of what can be done,” she said.

Council also voted to send its annual contribution of $3,000 to the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA), but not before addressing questions about the non-profit’s operations.

Council member Mike Conway, who said his children participate in WJYAA activities, wanted to know what the village does for the organization beyond the annual donation.

Martin said the village also maintains the ball fields the organization uses.

“The association does a great job for the young men and women,” he added.

Conway noted that WJYAA purchased a former school building in Lafayette, outside the village, to use for indoor activities following the closing and demolition of Galbreath Hall in West Jefferson. The organization could not use the Lafayette facility until this past fall because of a furnace problem, he said.

“My concern is: Is it going to stay in the village or go to Lafayette?” Conway asked.

Conway said he had to pay higher fees this year for his children to participate in WJYAA activities.

“I don’t mind giving them the money if they are going to lower the fees,” he said.

“We can’t tell them how to spend the money,” said council President Steve Johnston, adding that Conway might want to attend a WJYAA board meeting to express his concerns.

Despite his concerns, Conway voted in favor of the village’s annual contribution, as did his six colleagues.

Council approved a resolution allowing Police Chief Terry Ward to purchase a new cruiser, a budgeted item for 2017. He will order a 2017 Ford Explorer four-door all-wheel drive from Lebanon Ford for $27,079. Hall Public Safety Upfitters will add peripheral equipment, like rooftop flashing lights, for $2,570. Associated Graphics will outfit the vehicle with a graphics package for $1,270.

Council also approved budgeted items for the Public Service Department includ-ing street deicing salt, a zero-turn mower, and a traffic signal actuation package.

With the traffic signal actuation package, the lights on Main Street will rest on green until a call is placed from a pedestrian or vehicle on side streets of Walnut and Twin, then the lights will go to red and allow side street traffic to proceed. This package is expected to cost $30,000.

Council approved a 100 percent, 15-year property tax abatement on an upcoming expansion at Jefferson Industries Corp. Twenty new full-time permanent employ-ees will be hired when the two-phase project is completed in mid-2021.

Kyle Kauffman, a part-time officer for more than two years, was sworn in as a full-time police officer. Council reappointed Bob Godden to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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