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PC Mayor touts city departments in State of the City Address Featured

A year ago, Port Clinton Mayor Vince Leone didn’t think he had enough knowledge and information to give a “State of the City” address. However, this year he did, and he gave it at Tuesday night’s Port Clinton City Council Meeting.
Right out of the box, he was full of praise for his staff at City Hall. “The first and most important accomplishments this year in my belief is that I have surrounded myself with a great group of people that equally share the desire to move the City of Port Clinton in a forward and positive motion,” stated Mayor Leone at the beginning of his speech.


 He then moved on to heap praise on all of the City Departments, starting with the Police department and Chief Rob Hickman. He noted that three veteran officers, Don Gaydosh, Bob Case and Louise Bergeman retired, all with over 35 years of service. As for the Fire Department led by Chief Kent Johnson, Leone stated he would put this fire department up against any community anywhere.
Leone followed up with the Service Department. They completed negotiations with the city through Teamsters Local 20. They implemented a new way to repair streets by using a “hot box trailer” which holds hot asphalt. Over 200 tons of asphalt was used patching city streets in 2012. They also had to deal with 18 water breaks. An outsourced investigation of Port Clinton infrastructure revealed 19 leaks including 14 hydrants, 2 water mains and 2 main valve leaks. All of the repairs were made in house, according to the Mayor. Eric Peterson is the head of the City’s Service Department.
Tax revenues to the City increased by over $133,000 in 2012 compared to 2011. Improved collections and the renovations to Bataan School and construction of the new Middle School also had an impact.
Mayor Leone also talked about a number of ongoing projects including the work of the Conestoga groups and the volunteers working on the City Garden on Beech Street. He also noted the special attention that was given to Veterans Park on Monroe Street. He spoke of the completion of the Sloan Ditch project on the City’s east side and a $250,000 grant from the Army Corps of Engineers for the waterfront.


The complete state of the city address follows:

It is that time of the year, to reflect on the year past, as we head into the future.   I must admit this is all new to me.  It isn’t that I have not listed and evaluated the strengths of my own businesses.   I do find it to be a great way to see if you have hit your goals that you have made at the beginning of the year. 

The first and most important accomplishments this year in my belief, is that I have surrounded myself with a great group of people that equally share the desire to move the City of Port Clinton in a forward and positive motion.   For that I am truly grateful! 

I am not sure of the best format without listing some of the things we have succeeded in doing by department.   I would like to start with our Police Department lead by Chief Rob Hickman.   The Chief has had his hands full this year with many challenges before him.    First of which involved the negotiations of the FOP contract that had expired during this year.    I know that this was the first time he had to deal with negotiations from the other side of the isle, so to speak.  But for me it was a great opportunity to see Chief Hickman not only work diligently but also to witness his fair and impartial demeanor.   The retiring of some of his staff such as Sergeant Donald E. Gaydosh with 35 years of service, Patrolman Robert E. Case with 38 years of service, And Louise A. Bergman after 36 years of service continued to test the department with even more challenges.   There was even another individual whom left the department for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s office for the Drug Task Force whose name cannot be mentioned for obvious reasons.   As the department changed this year it also created opportunity for some to advance.   The promotion of Sergeant David M. Scott and Joshua A. Nelson both with 8 years of service was a welcome to some of those changes.   Also having dispatchers Nathan L. Edmonds, James R. Cipiti, and Daniel M. Laird moving into the ranks of patrolman along with two new officers Patrolman Ronald E. Timmons and Patrolman Ryan D. Kanter were added to our police force.  All of this movement created openings in the dispatch office; the hiring of Mickal Yaklich, Rochelle Pine, and Bob Christensen filled the openings.    If that wasn’t enough to keep the department busy for the year, Chief Hickman’s belief in the training of his department definitely assured the quality of the Police department.   Chief Robert J. Hickman, Detective Sergeant Corbin N. Carpenter and Sergeant Joshua A. Nelson all became NARK II field test Instructors.    While Sergeant David M. Scott and Sergeant Joshua A. Nelson went through training and are now Taser Instructors.   And by the way in order to carry a Taser, part of the training is to undergo being Tased so they have an understanding of what they may be administering to someone.   I myself was happy to volunteer for the exercise, but something’s are best left to the professionals.    We now also have two back up Detectives, Patrolman Nathan L. Edmonds and Patrolman Ronald E. Timmons to help with the work load. 

All these changes and adjustments in any department would undoubtedly cause major confusion, and one would think a potential for moral problems.   The facts are, and I am pleased to say that is the farthest from the truth.   The direction of Chief Hickman has been well received and I believe that it’s because he is not one to just give orders, but lives by what he says.  The department’s changes and growth has been nothing short of miraculous.

I will continue on with the Fire department. Any community whether in a large City ,Village, or Township, no matter full time employees or volunteers, I firmly and confidently put the Port Clinton Fire Department up against any,  and claim them as to be the best of the best and will attest to their professionalism.   This year alone, under the outstanding leadership of Chief Kent Johnson, have sponsored and certified 5 Fire Instructors through the State of Ohio.   This allows Port Clinton Fire Department to provide continuing education for the mandated training required by Federal and State Government for firefighters to maintain their certifications, and at no Instructors cost to the department.   All class hours, a total of 90 hours over 8 weeks were volunteered.   With that it is my privilege to announce the members that have passed; they are Trevor Johnson, Delbert Hatt, Lisa Richuiti, Tom Sees, and Donald Richuiti.  The personnel of the Port Clinton Fire Department has continued to not only give up their time during fire and rescue emergencies, but give to the City and surrounding Communities tirelessly.   Volunteering is a large part of their identity and they show it in many different ways.   I will only hit on a few instances from this year,   the hosting of Safety town, a 4 day event of activities for children entering Kindergarten involving Port Clinton Police Department, North Central EMS, Port Clinton City Schools, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Norfolk Southern.   And the continued participation in Fire Prevention reaching over 400 people in our community ranging from ages 3 to 103 and their dedication doesn’t stop there.   The training, like the Police department is the key to their success and Chief Kent Johnson demands extensive training for all the personnel of the Fire Department to better serve this City and to keep our firefighters safe.  Acquiring two training facilities in Portage Township and sharing those facilities with The Port Clinton Police department and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department proves his dedication to safety and the community.   The Fire Department also hosted a Jaws of Life training day.   The course was taught by AMKUS rescue tools.    I am not sure if it was Chief Johnson intuition, but only 2 days after that training they were using the same techniques they had learned on a major motor vehicle accident in Portage Township saving the life of a trapped person involving a truck.    Acquiring a state of the art Jaws of Life equipment and purchasing new 200,000 lb. cutters costing nearly $6,000.00 which was paid for by the Port Clinton Firefighter Association and then donated to the Port Clinton Fire Department was by far money well spent. 

Ricardo Ramos, Fire Inspector, achieved his associate’s degree in Fire Science. Another Firefighter new to the department Coty Cook achieved his Firefighter 1 certification, which took 1500 hours over 15 weeks, all volunteer.    I have one suggestion, and that is the next time you see one of them don’t be afraid to say thank you for all their dedication and hard work and remember, as Chief Johnson would say, this is Your Fire Department!

Next I would like to give you some insight as to what has been going on with the Port Clinton Service Department.    The beginning of this year was a challenge similar to the Police Department.  The Service Department was also in negotiations with the City, with Local 20 Teamster as their representative.   Adjusting to any new administration can prove to be a doubting task.   But it was obvious the men in the service department were up for the changes.   A lot of new equipment soon came their way to help them to work more efficient and safer.  We implemented a new way of repairing our streets by using what is called a Hot Box Trailer which holds hot asphalt.  The men were trained and started to work from one side of town to the other.   Needless to say this is a big job and well received not only by the workers but by our residents as well, due to the fact it is a more permanent repair.   Over 200 tons of asphalt was used in patching our streets and all shoveled by hand.  Other equipment new to our service department is a sewer camera.  Once again training proved to be a positive way of being effective in utilizing new technology.  The images that were captured not only let us see exactly what we were dealing with in our sewers, but also saved us costs associated with these kind of studies as part of engineering assessments.   It also helps us to prioritize the infrastructure needs for our streets and sewers.   But even though we have taken large steps to be more effective in spending tax dollars the unexpected water main break is still part of our reality.   18 water breaks to be more specific, most of which were repaired under pressure as to insure uninterrupted service to the residents and businesses in the City.  This brings us to a better way of locating water leaks without large costs.  Since we do not have the capabilities, the City has outsourced leak detection, which has uncovered 19 leaks, including: 14 hydrants, 2 water mains, and 2 main valve leaks.  All the repairs were done in house and the cost of leak detection was approx. $1,800.00.   This has now become part of our maintenance program that will be conducted twice a year.  Along with that our service department has changed 254 water meters and radio read heads to increase accuracy and reduce man hours in reading meters.  The Service Department has helped in creating safer neighborhood by removing 57 trees that were potentially overhead hazards.  We even created curbside brush pickup to better serve the residents of Port Clinton.   The Service Department continues to be even more effective in maintaining our City by cleaning up our parks and along the shoreline including the beach.  Removing brush and tall weeds that blocked the view we so much enjoy.   The amount of work that is being done by the 10 men of the Service Department has shown that the Leadership of Mr. Eric Petersen is more than just average. Mr. Petersen without any doubt lives and breathes Port Clinton.   His dedication to our fine City shows through the accomplishments that have been achieved, along with the men he works with.  

At the Waste Water Treatment Plant, directed by Ernie Isaac, keeping up with stricter regulations are a must and vital to insuring a safer environment for us now and in the future.   This is why receiving another perfect USEPA lab performance testing report is something we are very proud of.   Ernie Isaac continues to look to the future by keeping up with the maintenance and upgrades.  This past year during the early spring there was a concern with the storm pump at Portage Park which had not been properly serviced in years due to us not being able to get the proper equipment in to the location.    The problem was easily solved; the recent demolishing of the water works building on Perry Street left another cost issue of removal of the brick ruble.   The brick was put through a crusher and with the help of our service department, was turned into a roadway for access to the pump station at Portage Park.   As soon as the roadway was finished not only was the pump station re-fabricated but, the station’s control panel was upgraded as well and phase conversion to 3 phase to operate more efficiently.  This is only the start of upgrades for our storm pumps throughout the City.   The replacement of the pump and panel at 8th street, up grading the electrical service at the Buckeye street to 3 phase, the purchase of 6 new 15 horsepower efficiency motors for Perry street pump stations, and even cellular telemetry on the CSO station.   It doesn’t stop there as we have already planned, bid and will be under construction early this spring to upgrade the electrical service with new control panels to accept the new 15 horsepower motors on Perry Street.  

These accomplishments I have listed may not resolve all our ground water issues, but we are definitely seeing some great results from these actions.  Along with the more effective way of cleaning storm and sanitary sewers from the service department we feel confident that we are headed in the right direction to insure that the water and sewer funds are being used to better serve our community.

That being said I will spend some time talking about some of the accomplishments in our Water Office.   First off we wanted to make the office more available to better serve the community.   By changing our office hours to 7:00am till 5:00pm Monday thru Friday,  in doing so are hope to be more accommodating to people’s schedules.   To insure the accuracies in customers billing, we asked the State Auditor’s Office to conduct an audit of our billing software to make sure there were no irregularities.   We are very happy to report we passed with flying colors.  The water and sewer rates were increased by 2% as opposed to the 4% increase in prior years.   We have changed the billing cycle to be more current in the billing statements.  We’ve identified the parcel ID numbers of all are delinquent final bills in order to certify them over to the Ottawa County Auditor’s office.   We also up dated are water bylaws & regulations to be more consistent in how we do business.   I would like to report that due to the updated sewer deduct meter program customers have received over $15,860.00 of sewer credit on their December 15th billing statement.    One other big change is the promotion of Julie Frattaroli to office manager so we can be more prepared for the future and the changes yet to come.   Julie has already made positive changes to streamline the operations of the office.

Tax revenues increased by more than $133,000.00 over 2011.    This can be attributed to some major construction projects and continuing an aggressive program for finding delinquent taxpayers.  The school renovations had some impact on the withholding tax increase of over $60,000.00.    The increases in business filings and in individual filings are the result of several factors.   The school projects helped, but through the court there were 169 non-filing and 138 non-pay mediations filed.    There were 101 criminal cases for non-filing.  The small claims and garnishments brought in over $16,000.00 in taxes, penalty, and interest for various years.

We attend Ohio Municipal League and Northwest Ohio Tax Commissioners Association meetings to keep up to date on pending legislation.   Through this network municipalities, including Port Clinton, expressed their concerns about the State taking over municipal tax collections by passing resolutions opposing this potential bill.   It was later removed from the legislative docket due to those efforts. 

Throughout the year the City has worked on many different projects, along with a lot of Community involvement making Port Clinton even more special.   The Conestoga Groups continue to work together improving the neighborhoods they live in and throughout the City. They hold different neighborhood clean-ups, participate in Make a Different Day; whenever a hand is needed these groups are always ready and willing to help.  Their community spirit can be recognized with their commitment to organizing the City Garden.   After many meetings, and a lot of negotiations, Linda Hartlaub was successful in securing the land that would become The Beech Street Park.   Without her tenacity and personal involvement in this project I firmly believe there would be no such park or City Garden.   As the final agreements were made, Kathy and Dave Mehl opened their home for meetings to plan for our City Garden.   They continued to organize the group of dedicated people to make The City Garden what it is today.    Almost all of these groups have helped or are involved with the Friends of the Parks.   The Friends of the Parks, led by Rev. Bob Butcher, have continued to raise monies and move our parks forward to better serve our community.   To honor someone who has been the example of volunteerism, and who has continued to give to his community well into his senior years, The Friends of the Parks where instrumental in creating the “Bob Underwood Pavilion” in his memory. 

One of the most precious groups in our community is The Compassionate Friends of Ottawa County.   This group has been by far, the most heart touching group I have had the privilege of knowing.   The memorial they have built to honor not only their children, but the children of our community that “Have Gone to Soon” is a reminder of how precious are children truly are.    When tragedy struck a small town in Connecticut, The Compassionate Friends of Ottawa County understood the loss the families were feeling all too well.   Without hesitation Roseanne Hickman, the Compassionate Friends Leader, using social media organized a candle light vigil to honor the children and adults who had “Gone to Soon” and to show support to the grieving families as well.   My heart and prayers go out to the Compassionate Friends of Ottawa County; they have all my support.    

This year Arbor Day was celebrated at Portage Park with the dedication of five red maple trees and a monument to celebrate the children gone too soon from our community.    Many members of our community came out to help with the dedication; Troop 361 representing the Boy Scouts of America, many groups from the Girl Scouts of America, the Compassionate Friends of Ottawa County.   Church leaders from our community were also present to offer a prayer for the children we have lost in our community.   The children present were honored to throw the dirt of the newly planted trees along with members of The Compassionate Friends of Ottawa County.   As the trees continue to grow and offer shade for the children playing on the fields of Portage Park, the children gone too soon from our community will be remembered.

Another park that has received special attention is Veterans Park.    The American Legion and the City have worked together to honor our Veterans by placing stone pillars and a metal archway at the entrance.  The walkway leading up to the arch has been reconstructed as to be more users friendly.   Other improvements include landscaped islands on either side of the walkway.   Not to mention the fallen soldier memorial in the center of the park. 

The Sloan Ditch, which was a project long overdue, has been completed for under $20,000.   Now that this project has been completed residents living on the east end of town including Magruder Hospital will be able to enjoy less flooding in that area.   We believe that this is a great way to help on getting back to maintaining our city along with sewer cleaning and catch basins as well as lessening the amount of ground water entering homes in our city. 

The Army Corps of Engineers have awarded a grant to the city in the amount of $250,000.   This grant money will be used for the design work along our shoreline.   The hope is to continue with construction in the near future to bring back plants and wild life habitats that were once thriving in this area.  

A grant from The Ohio Department of Transportation Small Cities program in the amount of over $600,000 will be used for the re-construction of 2nd Street from Monroe to Jefferson.   This will include sewer separation, sidewalks, curbs and lighting which will place the electrical underground.


 

Finally, while a small event, it is an important event to help our young children know the importance of local government.   Each year, Mr. Greg Scalf’s government class for Port Clinton High School participates in Student Government day.   Students shadow different positions in the city and attend Council Meetings to learn how the local government operates.  It is always a joy to have our student’s involvement in our local government.

As I would wish that I have outlined the accomplishments of 2012 completely, I’m sure I have only touched on the things that stick out in my head at this time.   I am also sure I may have failed to mention a lot of people of importance as well.  For that I am truly sorry. The fact of the matter is that it takes the community as a whole to move are City forward, not just a Mayor.   I have a lot of great people who work with me and help all these projects and the day to day operations become successful.   Tracey Colston, our Safety Service Director; Jen Porter, Administrative Assistant; Walter Wehenkel, Special Projects Coordinator  are all key players in moving the City forward.   I would like to mention the most forgotten part of City Hall operations, the Auditor’s office.   There have been great changes in the Auditor’s office with Larry Hartlaub moving to the County position.    This void left large shoes to fill, Cole Hatfield accepted the challenge of filling those shoes and has done well.  Along with Rachel Klimentov, the deputy auditor, business continued without interruption and kept the Administration on the straight and narrow.    Speaking of the straight and narrow, the continued work by the City Council and most certainly the Law Director, George Wilbur, offer another extremely important role in our local government.    Without their dedication and care for our City, we could not progress.   On a side note, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have legal advice readily available when dealing with such important issues.  While I am not claiming that we have not had our bumps and bruises along the way, we are most definitely always trying to do what we believe to be in the best interest of our City.  

In the beginning of my address to the city, I mentioned being surrounded by Great people who are like minded when it comes to a passion for our city.   I cannot tell you how privileged I feel and how grateful I am to have the honor of working with all of them.   To end I would like to say THANK YOU to all for allowing me to be Mayor of the Great City of Port Clinton!

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