(Posted Aug. 18, 2016)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Merriman subdivision resident Stacy Sibbalds is concerned about crime in her neighborhood, so much so that she wants to form a block watch to be extra eyes for the police.
“I work too hard to have my things stolen or vandalized,” she said at the Aug. 15 West Jefferson village council meeting.
Sibbalds said she was born into the neighborhood and has a granddaughter living nearby.
“I plan on staying here and making it a safe neighborhood,” she said.
Sibbalds asked council if the village could put up block watch signs in her subdivision. She has scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Converse Park picnic shelter for anyone interested in more information about forming a block watch.
The purpose of the block watch is “to create a network of neighbors to help look after each other and report crime in our area,” according to a flyer Sibbalds shared with council and is handing out to subdivision residents.
The flyer also lists safety hints, such as having lots of lighting in and around the house, securing gates and fences that are easily accessible, and making sure cars are locked and all valuables are out of sight.
Sibbalds further encourages residents to get to know their neighbors by taking walks around the neighborhood, checking on elderly neighbors, and volunteering to pick up newspapers or mail when neighbors are out of town.
She encourages residents to pick up trash from in front of their homes, keep their yards maintained, and trim hedges that can be used as hiding places.
She also said that any suspicious activity should be reported to the police.
Public Service Director John Mitchell said block watch signs can be posted as requested. Mayor Ray Martin suggested that Sibbalds invite police and fire department representatives to her meeting.
One of Sibbalds’ neighbors, Bonnie Hamilton, said some street lights are out “and have been for a long time.” She also asked if the village had money in the budget to hire more police.
Martin said the village has submitted a lighting outage survey to AEP. He asked Mitchell to follow up with AEP.
As for budgeting for more police, Council President Steve Johnston said, “We’re always looking for ways to hire more police. The budget process starts next month.”
Council members applauded Sibbalds’ efforts to start a block watch.
“The village needs it all over the place,” said council member Mike Conway. “I would like to see it pick up and spread to other neighborhoods.”
Council recognized Jake Burns, a senior at West Jefferson High School, for his performance at the Down Under Tournament in Australia. Burns competed in the 195-pound weight class for Team USA and won an individual silver medal and a team silver medal.
Help for employees
Council adopted two ordinances that will ultimately help village employees. One authorizes the village to establish a plan to pick up full payments to the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund. The other authorizes the village to pick up the required employee contributions to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
“This will mean more money in our employees’ paychecks, especially with the holidays approaching,” said Johnston.
Finance Director Debbie DiLeo said the ordinances take effect Sept. 19.
Ugly Truck Parade and Broadcast
Columbus radio station WCOL will do a live broadcast and related activities in West Jefferson on Aug. 26. The local police department will be featured during the broadcast, which will take place from 5 to 10:30 a.m. in front of the village administration building
The public is invited to take part in an Ugly Truck Parade, also part of the radio station’s visit. The parade forms at 6:30 a.m. at Advanced Auto and starts off at 7:30 a.m. The only requirement is that trucks be ugly and run. The parade route will go west on Pearl to Center then turn north to go to the police department.