New Philadelphia council honors the late Jim Locker

New Philadelphia council honors the late Jim Locker
Lori Feeney

New Philadelphia City Council President Don Kemp, left, presented Samantha Winnie with the plaque containing the official proclamation naming part of Bank Lane Southeast “Jim Locker Lane” in honor of Locker’s many years of service dedicated to the city of New Philadelphia. Winnie is Locker’s great-granddaughter. A large gathering of family members appeared in council chambers to accept the honor.

                        

At its June 22 meeting, New Philadelphia City Council passed an ordinance to have a portion of Bank Lane Southeast designated “Jim Locker Lane” in honor of the late Jim Locker, former police officer, police chief and city council member.

Members of Locker’s family were in attendance to accept the honor. Locker’s son, Tom, spoke on behalf of the family, thanking council, the salary committee and councilman John Zucal for honoring his father. He also thanked Mayor Day and law director Marvin Fete for making the evening happen.

“Our dad proudly served the city of New Philadelphia,” Locker said. “He would be humbled by this ordinance that recognizes him for all the years as a public servant.”

Locker mentioned his mother could not attend, but she would see a video recording of the ceremony.

Several council members commented on the honor while the family was still present. Mayor Day said the designation was a fitting tribute to a man who loved New Philadelphia and its people.

“Jim Locker was a mentor to many of us who chose the path of public service to our community,” Day said. “He touched so many lives. He made us all better people.”

Rob Maurer said when he joined council, Locker was a great mentor to him. “I looked up to him, and he was such a great guy. It was an honor to know him,” he said.

Zucal recalled growing up on Second Drive Southeast. He could almost throw a stone and hit the Locker house.

“What a gentleman,” Zucal said. “What a great mentor to us. I’ll be pleased to go down Bank Lane and see those signs hanging.”

Zucal later said he was pleased the salary committee could join with council in sponsoring the designation.

Fete said Locker was one of the first people he sought advice from when he considered running for law director. “He always encouraged me and would tell me whether I was doing a good job or not,” he said.

After presenting the family with a plaque containing the official proclamation, Don Kemp, council president, said, “This is what’s great about the city of New Philadelphia, that we can honor people who have given back to the community.”

Administrative reports

Mayor Day reported CSX Transportation had declined the Economic Development and Finance Alliance’s offer to purchase the rail line from Dover to Uhrichsville. Day formed a Railroad Task Force in 2017 to focus on obtaining local ownership of the line for economic development. Day said in a follow-up phone call with CSX that he was told that the company may entertain another offer once the company has solved supply-chain issues following the COVID-19 pandemic and can determine the direction of the country after the Nov. 3 election.

Day also reported RTY plans to reopen Tuscora Park rides on Saturday, June 27. The rides passed state inspection earlier this month, and the city health department has approved the reopening plan, which is now under review by Gov. DeWine’s office. The park’s miniature golf course also will reopen that day. Ride operators are being trained in COVID-19 protocols. Rides and the golf course will be open weekends from noon until 8 p.m. and on weekdays from 4:30-8 p.m.

Service director Ron McAbier reported construction on Wabash Avenue is nearly complete. “The water and sewer lines are complete,” he said. “We have two days to put curbs in, one day to grind and one day to pave. If we had four good-weather days, we could be done, but I don’t think the weather’s going to cooperate this week.”

McAbier also reported his office received only one bid for construction of an office building at the new cemetery.

“Unfortunately, it was the only one we received, and it was considerably higher than the engineer’s estimate,” McAbier said.

McAbier said his office will have to review what options are available before moving forward. When asked by councilman Kelly Ricklic how much over the estimate was, McAbier said the engineer’s estimate was for $135,000, and the bid came in at $225,000.

McAbier said fortunately, bids for the Community Development Block Grant work came in $26,000 under estimate. “That means we can build sidewalks and curbs on North Avenue and Poplar and a curb on Second continuing to Minnick Avenue.”

Work will progress soon on phase one of the Southside Community Park project; McAbier will have a report and schedule after the preconstruction meeting with Vizmet Construction on June 24.

Safety director Greg Popham reported the New Philadelphia Fire Department received a grant from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District for $2,452 to purchase a small boat trailer and to pay for mounting a motor on a smaller Zodiac Nautic boat used by the department.

Auditor Beth Gundy had no official report, but Zucal inquired about the ongoing situation with delinquent lodging taxes. Gundy said the county still has one company that has still not paid. Fete said the situation has been referred to the prosecutor’s office to address.

Fete remarked on the recent passing of Ed Breehl, saying the community suffered a tremendous loss with his death on June 13. Fete listed a number of Breehl’s accomplishments, going back to playing on an undefeated Quaker football team in 1953; teaching at Buckeye Career Center from 1976-2010; serving on the New Philadelphia board of education, city council and zoning board; and coaching Pony League for 20 years.

“Ed Breehl was much more than just a list of accomplishments,” Fete said. “He was a great community servant. He was a bit of a celebrity but was so humble you’d never have known it.”

Board and commission reports

The planning commission will meet in council chambers on Tuesday, July 14 at 1 p.m. in council chambers.

Board of zoning appeals met June 9 to hear three variance requests. Requests by a business at 175 Marketplace Commons and a residence at 224 Watson Circle were voted on and denied. The board approved a request made by the Arby’s group for a signage variance at 1297 W. High Ave. by a vote of 3-2.

Zucal said the salary committee will meet July 13 at 7 p.m. on a lighting-replacement project for Runway 1533 that will require council’s approval. The commission will apply for a grant from ODOT to fund the project.

Ricklic reported the health board met June 10, primarily to discuss public health enforcement. Lee Finley spoke to the board about the amount of time and effort already put into enforcing COVID-19 guidelines and regulations as the health board prepares for the reopening portion of enforcement.

Council committee reports

Maurer said the finance committee met prior to the council meeting to discuss Resolution 17-2020 (HB481), which would reimburse the city for costs accrued in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked council pass the resolution as an emergency measure. Maurer also said a special fund must be created (Fund 295) and asked council to pass a resolution on that issue as an emergency measure.

The salary committee will meet July 13 at 7 p.m. regarding the establishment of legislation pertinent to the retire/rehire of city employees. The city currently has no legislation that outlines the process by which such action should be conducted.

Legislative action

—Heard the first reading of Ordinance 10-2020 amending and adopting the permanent appropriations ordinance for the year 2020.

—Passed Ordinance 11-2020 to create a Local Coronavirus Relief Fund (Fund 295) on its first reading as an emergency measure.

—Passed Ordinance 17-2020 affirming funds from Fund 295 will be used only to cover costs associated with COVID-19 relief on its first reading as an emergency measure.

In other matters

Zucal asked that council move into executive session for the purpose of considering a personnel issue involving a public employee.


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