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COUNCIL MEETING 05/31/16 (Seat Belt Ordinance, School Annexation, Fire Review, Street Acceptance, Vehicle Bids)

Fire Chief Gives 6-Month Review
June 8, 2016

At last week's Chillicothe City Council, Chillicothe Fire Chief Darrell Wright gave a six-month department review; Chillicothe Parks and Recreation Department Director, Josh Norris, introduced Drew Hinton as the new facilities coordinator; the council accepted Comanche Street as a city street within the Sunset Village subdivision along with a one year warranty from the developer; and two bids were accepted for the purchase of two vehicles for the city (one for the parks department and one for the Chillicothe Police Department).

During the fire department's six-month review, Wright shared data with the council showing the Hedrick Medical Center's emergency department units, admits and transfers. In 2015 there were almost 9,500 emergency department units, almost 900 admits and just over 735 transfers. In 2012, there were about 8,300 emergency department units, almost 700 admits and almost 740 transfers. "When they are busier, we are busier," Wright said. A graph was also given to the council explaining fire department calls for service. Calls included in the graph were labeled "EMS Local," "EMS Trip" and "Department Services." In 2015, the EMS local calls totaled between 1,000 and 1,500, EMS trips totaled over 500 and department services (which includes miscellaneous things that do not involve fire, such as, gas leaks) totaled almost 500. Wright also mentioned to the council that the fire department receives a lot of calls involving rental property safety. He said the department gets calls from renters who don't have working smoke detectors among other things that are considered "fire traps" or are hazardous to the renter's health. Wright urged the council to put a safety ordinance in place requiring rental property owners to install and maintain smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the rental homes for the safety of the citizens. No action or discussion concerning this proposal followed. Photos of firefighters utilizing the new training center were also shown to the council. Wright said they are able to utilize ropes for training, train with live burns, propane fires and a propane prop. He also said there will be a night fire training session at the center soon. Wright also presented the idea of constructing a sub station north of Chillicothe. He said as the city annexations keep increasing and the city keeps growing, the need for a sub station north of town will become necessary in the near future. Wright said at one point in time the city limits of Chillicothe stopped near Barnes Baker; however, the city keeps growing and more and more businesses are added to the north end of town. Wright mentioned that the traffic north of town has increased a lot due to the hospital, prison, high school (and soon to be new elementary school) moving to that end.

Chillicothe Parks and Recreation Department Director, Josh Norris, introduced the new facilities coordinator for the department, Drew Hinton. Hinton has worked for the department for about two months full time. Norris said Hinton is a great addition to the department. Hinton grew up in Chillicothe and graduated from CHS in 2009. He then went to Central Methodist University for biology. He said he has worked for the parks department on-and-off part-time since he was 15 years old. Hinton now manages shelter house rentals, social media, an offender crew and more for the parks department full time. "He is going to be a great asset to the city," Norris said. "I appreciate this opportunity for employment," Hinton said.

The council also accepted Comanche Street as a city street within the Sunset Village subdivision along with a one year warranty from the developer at the council meeting. According to City Administrator Ike Holland, any time a new subdivision is developed in the city, the developer has to build the streets in that subdivision to the specifications of the city. The streets are then checked out by the city and are either accepted or denied. The developer has a one-year warranty of the streets so if anything goes wrong and repairs need to be made within that year, it will be the developer's responsibility, not the city's.

A few vehicle bids were also accepted at the meeting. A bid from Barnes Baker of Trenton on a Ford F-250 (2015 or newer) four-wheel-drive, three quarter ton regular cab with an 8-foot bed truck was accepted at the council meeting. This truck will be used in the parks department. The bid of $28,510 was the lowest bid, and it was approved 5-0. A bid from Barnes Baker of Trenton for a 2017 police utility all-wheel-drive Ford Explorer was accepted at the council meeting as well. This vehicle will be used by the CPD. The bid of $28,516 was the lowest bid, and it was approved 5-0.

Council Takes No Action on Seat Belt Ordinance Amendment
June 2, 2016

City officials took no action on a proposed amendment to an ordinance involving the use of vehicle seat belts at the regular Chillicothe City Council meeting Tuesday evening. This ordinance amendment would have allowed police to enforce the seat belt law without having another reason to stop a motorist. As of now, the police cannot pull a person over solely because they are not utilizing their seat belt; there has to be another violation. The proposal came as a recommendation by Chillicothe Police Chief Rick Knouse. The chief told council members that allowing the police to enforce the utilization of seat belts would save lives. By being able to better enforce seat belt usage, people might stop looking at seat belts as optional and buckle up. Knouse received mixed opinions from the council on the topic Tuesday night, as well as when the proposal was first presented at the April council meeting. On Tuesday night, a couple of the councilmen said they didn't need to be told whether or not they have to buckle up, and it should be their decision. At the April meeting, Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham stated that making seat belts subject to primary enforcement is a good idea for young people, but called it an infringement of people's rights if applied to adults, and he expressed this opinion at the May meeting as well. Knouse told the council Tuesday night that his job is all about safety and keeping citizens as safe as possible. He said he felt he needed to present this proposal to the council to increase safety and try to save lives. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and death by about half. Knouse noted on Tuesday that the biggest offenders of not buckling up is among teenagers, which has resulted in many fatalities. CDC also shared on their website that of the teens (aged 13-20 years) who died in crashes in 2012, approximately 55 percent of them were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. When the proposal was first brought to the council in April, there were mixed opinions, and despite those mixed reactions, the council unanimously agreed that the topic called for further discussion. There were still mixed emotions on Tuesday night about the topic. No motion to amend the city's existing ordinance was made Tuesday night, and the council decided to let the proposal die.

Two Annexation Ordinances Passed to Benefit R-2 future
June 1, 2016

Two voluntary annexation ordinances involving land near the Chillicothe High School were passed Tuesday evening at the Chillicothe City Council meeting. The ordinances annexed into the a tract of land totaling approximately 24.8 acres located north of the Chillicothe city limits along U.S. 65 and a tract totaling approximately 45.5 acres located north of the Chillicothe R-2 school property. These annexation ordinances were passed with 5-0 votes. The owners of the 24.8 acres located north of the Chillicothe city limits are John Hutchinson and Don Metry Jr. Both land owners signed a petition to annex the unincorporated area of land. The owner of the 45.5 acres of land located north of the Chillicothe R-2 school property is the Chillicothe Education Foundation. The foundation verified a petition to annex the unincorporated area of land. A portion of the Chillicothe Education Foundation land will be used to build the new Chillicothe preschool through first grade building which was included in the school bond issue that passed in April. The long-range plan for the Chillicothe R-2 district is to have a one-campus school district with all school buildings located on the CEF property that was officially annexed into the city last night. A portion of the Hutchinson and Metry land will be used to build an access road from U.S. Highway 65 to the school site to help with traffic flow. A public hearing was held concerning the annexations on April 25, 2016, and was continued to May 9, 2016 when it was held by the city council. No written objections to the proposed annexations were filed with the council, and no objections were filed within 14 days after the public hearing. The council determined that the annexations are reasonable and necessary for the proper development of the city and that the city is able to furnish normal municipal services to the area within a reasonable time. The properties were previously zoned by Livingston County as agricultural and such zoning shall continue as the zoning of the land annexed until the proper zoning of the land can be considered as required by state law and city ordinances.

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