Bordenkircher shares highlights of past year in state of the village

| January 26, 2021

Stephen R. Bordenkircher

2019 was a year of difficult challenges and accomplishments in our village, and 2020 challenged us in different ways as never before in modern times. Early in the year our community, our state, our country, and the entire world were faced with the COVID-19 pandemic which continues today. This has been a time of masks. A simple handshake or hug concerned us for exposure. Sadly, people have been ill, and some have passed due to this deadly virus.

As I start this address, I need to acknowledge and thank my staff, the officers of the village, specifically, the Fiscal Officer Amy Bourne, Village Administrator Chris Menapace, previous Police Chief Stephen Klopfenstein along with our new Police Chief Matt Fohl, previous Fire Chief Glen Hill, and our new Fire Chief Damon Gould, all who work hard and more hours than they are paid for. The efforts of these individuals and their staffs made it possible to accomplish the tasks put before us.

When looking at how we performed financially in 2020, with a budget of approximately $1,802,451, the village started the year with a carryover balance of $2,213,911.08. The state would like the village to have a carryover of approximately 12 months for emergency reserves. As we begin 2021, the carryover was $2,760,523.23, which is an increase of 24.3% The general fund carryover increased by $112,273.13. The 2021 budget is $1,848,685. The village’s aggregate reserves equal approximately 149% of that goal overall, but that percentage varies per fund. We still must remain conservative with our spending.

Our Village Fiscal Officer Amy Bourne has been extraordinarily dedicated to the fiscal administration. She gave it her all to serve the village and take care of our fiscal responsibilities. She continues to handle her responsibilities in earnest attending numerous schools and seminars to maintain very efficient management of village finances. She monitored financial reserves that produced interest earnings of $19,869.78 in 2020, an increase of roughly $2,446.74.

The Fiscal Officer began the process of the new financial software installation with CMI Authority and it will be completed in early 2021. Amy attended many virtual trainings since COVID-19 did not allow in person trainings. Trainings with CMI for the financial software, annual trainings for public treasurers with the Ohio Municipal League (OML), Ohio Association of Public Treasurers (OAPT) and Municipal Finance Officers Association (MFOA) as well as Public Records training on behalf of re-elected council members and for herself.

Another anomaly for Amy was managing CARES Act distributions from the county and attending many webinars and trainings on the proper use and reporting of the CARES Act funds. Total CARES Act money received to date is $177.276.95 plus interest earned from the bank.

Amy worked with Ridgewood Local School District and Precious Treasures Daycare to subgrant money to them from the CARES Act money received. Additionally, she worked with all department heads to cut budget expenses in response to the potential revenue loss expected from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fiscal Officer’s Goals for 2021 include complete installation and transition to the new CMI Authority financial software, implement direct deposit for payroll using the new financial software, continue professional development with trainings and posture for the 2019-2020 financial audit this spring.

Amy participated in Leadership Coshocton County and graduated in 2020 and uses her leadership skills daily.

The Fire Department is currently staffed with 19 members. The members consist of 1 Chief, 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Captains, 2 Lieutenants, and 12 Firefighters. Five members retired or resigned from the department in 2020.

On March 9, 2020 Heath Ogle was sworn in as a firefighter, April 1, 2020 Damon Gould was appointed to the position of Chief, April 1, 2020 Glen Hill was appointed to the position of Deputy Chief, May 6, 2020 Travis Goodwill was promoted to the position of Lieutenant, June 8, 2020 Darin Welker was sworn in as a firefighter, Oct. 7, 2020 Brandon Bradford and Chad Gallagher were promoted to the position of Captain, and Dec. 21, 2020 Joshua McQueen was promoted to the position on Lieutenant.

The department equipment includes a brush truck, three engines, one tanker, one rescue truck, two utility vehicles, and a ranger. During 2020, the department responded to 178 calls with an estimated fire loss of $434,310.00. The calls were from the following jurisdictions: Village of West Lafayette, 46; Lafayette Township, 45; Oxford Township, 44; White Eyes Township, 14; Linton Township, 11; and mutual aid out of the area, 18.

During 2020 the hours worked within the fire department were as follows: emergency calls 1,483.74; station and vehicle maintenance 887.05; and training 408.5.

During 2020 the following grants were obtained by the fire department Jan. 9, 2020 Coshocton Foundation, $3,000.00 for MARCS Pagers, Sept. 3, 2020 Coshocton Foundation $4,000 for Vehicle Rescue Equipment, Oct. 1, 2020 Million Dollar Round Table $2,000 for Vehicle Rescue Equipment and December 2020 Million Dollar Round Table $1,000 General Department Grant.

The Fire Department received $53,796.36 in CARES Act Funding. PPE masks, disposable Tyvek suits, disinfectant equipment, and supplies were purchased to minimize the exposure and risk related to Covid-19. All vehicles are disinfected after each use. Cleansing wipes are supplied to wash off all exposed areas of the firefighter before returning to the Station.

Other CARES purchases were computer equipment and software to better track exposures and receive up-to-date information from dispatch (Active 911 APP & ESO Reporting Software), and 20 sets of turnout gear. This gives all the firefighters two sets of gear. When there is an exposure, a firefighter is not out of service waiting on his gear to be cleaned. Plus, 20 additional Nomex hoods and rescue gloves for protection during accidents and patient care.

2020 was a difficult year, but we feel our fire department did an excellent job in maintaining the quality of service provided to the public. We also managed to avoid a persistent virus from closing our department. We made several command staffing changes this year and everyone is fitting into their positions. The department was audited by ISO in December and is awaiting the final report. We feel the audit went well and fully expect our rating to remain the same.

A one mill additional levy was placed on the ballot for Lafayette Township and approved. The levy will give our operating the department a long-needed boost toward equipment replacement.

Goals for 2021 include: 1) replacing our Light Rescue Truck and returning the existing vehicle for service as a utility vehicle, 2) complete specifications for replacement of Engine 602 and hope to release it for bid late in 2021, 3) complete the installation of Active 911 tablets in the two main engines, 4) improve recruiting activities and public outreach training programs once the pandemic allows, 5) formalize an annual continuing education program for firefighters, and 6) update the Fire Department’s Standard Operating Guidelines and distribute copies to all Firefighters and Village Officials.

As we started 2019 the West Lafayette Police Department was led by Chief Stephen Klopfenstein. Chief Klopfenstein retired on June 1, 2020 and we sincerely thank him for his service to the community. In June of 2020 Matt Fohl joined the department as police chief. The department is made up of the chief, one corporal, a sergeant, a patrolman and five part-time officers. The sworn officers who are professionally trained and certified by the State of Ohio; and by law, are also declared to be law enforcement officers of the state and conservators of the peace with the authority to arrest. Each officer is assigned various duties and responsibilities as deemed necessary by the chief of police.

The chief of police is the chief executive officer for the department and is responsible for the planning/research functions, assist in preparation of the division’s budget, supervising internal expenditures and the overall administration of personnel selection. The chief of police also serves as added manpower, patrol, investigations, and general law enforcement. The department chain of command is then assisted by a sergeant and a corporal that serve numerous operating functions as assigned by the chief of police. Dispatching and prisoner housing is provided by the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office.

The department’s annual report is available for review in the village administration office. Some of the activities include 27 accident reports, 1,258 calls/complaints, 13 felony arrests, and 197 traffic stops (traffic stops were reduced due to COVID-19 concerns).

Unfortunately, 2020 has been plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic and community programs have stalled, either due to the need for social distancing or a potential lack of funding. The school resource program was placed on hold this year but plans and communication for the next school year have been ongoing. We will be prepared to start programs back up and we are making plans to increase community outreach.

2020 brought many new faces to the Village of West Lafayette. Each employee shows excitement and focus that is infectious to the department. The department is proud to boast its diversity and broad range of experience and talent that was added to the staff in 2020. Officer Laurice Mans came to us in April of 2020, bringing eight years of experience to the department. He is currently assigned to the night shift and serves as the department’s field training officer. Chief Matthew Fohl was officially sworn in on June 11, 2020 as the department’s new chief of police. He has served in law enforcement for nearly 27 years and held numerous positions, responsibilities, and roles throughout his career. Officer Jose Hernandez came in August of 2020 with over 15 years of experience in law enforcement and security. He is a state certified police instructor and has worked with numerous agencies in the Columbus, Ohio area. Officer Aaron Carbajal started in August of 2020 and is a recent academy graduate. West Lafayette is his first appointment as a law enforcement officer, and he brings that excitement with him. Officer Jared Lindig also started in August of 2020 as a recent academy graduate. He is a recent graduate of Tiffin University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He was born and raised in West Lafayette.

Officer Sarah Varner was the latest hire in September of 2020. She is a recent academy graduate and a lifetime Coshocton County resident. She has shown tremendous work ethic and enthusiasm for law enforcement.

During 2020 the community service projects such as the Easter Egg Hunt and Kids Carnival were canceled because of COVID-19.  It is our hope that these or similar functions will return once the COVID-19 is brought under control.

With CARES Act funding the department was able to purchase and install a new mobile CAD system. We switched to the new reporting system that is associated with the CAD and went live with it in December 2020.

The month of November accounted for eight out of the 13 felony cases for the year. This was largely due to the narcotics investigation and drug raid that was conducted in the first week of the month, along with related incidents afterwards. We sincerely thank and appreciate our local police department.

Village Administrator, Christopher Menapace joined the village as full time administrator in March of 2020.  During the year, his departments were busy with multiple tasks. Overall, it was an extremely busy year in the administration office. For the numerous categorized achievements that are listed below to have been accomplished, the staff working with the village administrator is to be commended for their hard-working, supportive, and often exhaustive work effort that was put forth.

2020 was an exceptional year for village infrastructure improvements, enhancements, and preparations for future growth and expansion of village managed utilities.  In addition, the technology was enhanced within the village administrative office to permit essential personnel to work remotely to comply with COVID-19 shutdown and start up regulations that ensure the safety of our personnel as our community continues to navigate the pandemic.

Personnel changes: reduction of one full-time street department employee due to COVID-19 projected financial impacts, retirement of the operator of record for the water and wastewater department, hiring of a part-time operator of record for the water department, hiring of a part-time operator of record for the wastewater department, and hiring of a part-time street department employee.

Building Permits: a total of 41 building permits were issued resulting in $1638.16 collected in permitting fees. The breakdown of projects needing permits were: 2 new home constructions, 5 home additions, 3 new garage constructions or additions, and 31 fences, decks, porches, sidewalks, and/ or driveways.

Community Service Hours: numerous individuals were utilized by our street and parks departments for labor mandated by either Coshocton County Job and Family Services (CCJFS) Benefits Program, the Youth Summer Help Program, or by the Coshocton County Court System (CCCS). The breakdown of each were: five people from CCJFS working approximately 725 hours, three people from the CCCS working approximately 95 hours, and two people working for the Summer Youth Program working approximately 390 hours.

Street Department: 58 loads of leaves were picked up which equates to approximately 30,000 cubic feet of leaves. This is enough leaves to fill up 7 ½ standard 53’ semi box trailers. Approximately five tons of salt and sand were used to treat the roads. Paving of sections of Wall Street and Fifth Street were completed. King Street will be paved as part of the 2020 program immediately after the Coshocton Water project reclamation has been completed. All alleys were patched and/or repaired in the Village. Fixed existing and installed a new storm water catch basin on East Russell Avenue. Two new alleys were created within the Village. All crosswalks, striping in No Parking zones, and curbs were painted yellow in the Village. Also, the Administration Building was painted. A “dump site” for trees and shrubs damaged by the summer storms was created and maintained.

All trees over the roadways in the village were trimmed to lift the canopy to reduce the impact of straight-line wind events as well as provide for the unobstructed travel of large vehicles on our roadways.

Columbia Gas installed 25,000 feet of gas line and over 250 homes received new service line taps to their homes.

Parks Department: Storm damage was cleaned up and trees trimmed in Burt Park. An agreement was reached with Ridgewood Recreation Board for utilization of Waterworks Park. Money was appropriated, and a resolution passed to construct permanent restroom facilities at Waterworks Park prior to the 2021 spring baseball season. Materials have been obtained and are staged at Waterworks Park to re-surface the parking lot prior to the 2021 spring baseball season. New touchless toilets, urinals, sinks, and towel dispensers, were installed at Burt Park restroom facilities.

Water Department: The total volume produced by the water plant was just over 68 million gallons with the average daily flow produced by the water plant at 186,400 gallons per day. 33 water services were terminated (shut off) according to the termination log. Two boil alerts were issued during the Coshocton Water project construction process. There were no violations for any of the compliance testing of water quality. 12 leaks were in various places within the village were detected and fixed. The Coshocton Water Project began. Contractors had completed about 90% of Contract A and 80% of Contract B prior to the end of the year.

Wastewater Department: The total volume treated was 69.9 million gallons with the average daily flow treated 190,000 gallons. A new access road to Morning Glory lift station was installed, and a defective pump at the Fifth Street lift station was replaced. Ryan Cottrell changed the solid waste elimination process to a belt press operation used to dewater our sludge.  Total gallons dewatered were 281,000. Total savings for the Village was $15,000 because of the new, more efficient way to process our solid waste.  Moving forward, the Village will no longer need to land apply sludge on a yearly basis and will continue to realize additional monetary savings. A new sewer truck and a new camera trailer for sewer line/storm water inspection of pipes were added to equipment for the department. For the first time since 2016, the influent and effluent Parshall Flumes have been calibrated to correctly measure volume of water coming into and leaving the plant. Over the course of 8 months, Ryan Cottrell, the Village Administrator, and the Wastewater Operator of Record worked with County personnel and representatives from Pearl Valley Cheese to trouble shoot, augment, and permanently repair the Coshocton County Force Main running from Pearl to Fresno. Tremendous obstacles and a large cost and time were spent on this project. The updates ultimately made were facilitated by a renewed positive customer relationship established between the Village, the County, and Pearl Valley Cheese. As a result of the overall redesign and upgrades to the system, the Pearl Valley Lift Station runtimes have dropped from 20 hours per day pumping an average of 60 GPM to running less than 8 hours per day pumping and average of 150 GPM.  Not only will these improvements enable the lift station to operate more efficiently, but the Village will realize a 65% reduction in utility bills and maintenance costs associated with the system.  These improvements have created a symbiotic relationship with the County, Pearl Valley Cheese and the Village of West Lafayette Wastewater Treatment Plant that will benefit all involved into the future.

New upgrades were made to the Wastewater Treatment Plant to permit septic haulers to off load product to the Village. This will create an additional source of revenue not realized in the past. Implementation of a Minimum Staffing Reduction Plan, approved by the Ohio EPA, that ultimately creates additional available manhours for Wastewater employees to be utilized in other capacities within the Village as well as saving, on average, 10 hours of payroll for the Wastewater Treatment Plant on a weekly basis.         A resolution was passed, and an engineering consultant has been contracted to complete a storm water upgrade feasibility study to improve the efficiency of the Village’s dismissal of storm water and help to prevent future flooding in parts of the Village.        The Village contracted with a local landscaping company to reclaim the yards impacted by the Johnson Street Sewer upgrade that was completed in 2019.  The yards are now fully restored to their status prior to the project.

Code Enforcement and Compliance: The Board of Zoning Appeals convened twice and granted 4 variances to the Code. The Planning Commission met twice and approved 2 lot splits. 39 properties were found to be non-compliant within the following categories: 51 violations for unsightly and/or unsanitary conditions on the property, 11 violations for deteriorating or dilapidating conditions on the property, and 12 violations for junk motor vehicles. All of the above violations were resolved as follows: 59 violations were corrected by the property resident or owner,  7 violations were turned over to the Village Solicitor to prepare for court, 5 violations were found to be guilty with fines and fees assessed to the property owner, 2 violations were corrected prior to the court case so the Village dismissed the charges, 3 residential properties were razed, 1 commercial property was razed, 4 violations were carried over to 2021 as they are in various stages of compliance. 63 notifications were distributed for high grass and noxious weeds with 59 of these notifications corrected by the resident and/or the property owner. Four properties required the Village Administrator to mow the grass resulting in a total fee assessment of $500.00 to the property owners.

Goals for 2021:

Update the preventative maintenance program for all village equipment and vehicles; continue to improve the overall aesthetics of the village through professional and aggressive code enforcement; complete parking lot resurface and construction of restroom facilities at Waterwork’s Park; secure funding for a multi-phased sidewalk improvement/installation project for the village; complete the Coshocton Water Project; upgrade pumps at various lift stations as well as add security fencing to different locations; obtain ownership of the County Forced Main Sewer system from Pearl Valley Cheese and Fresno; complete installation of automated monitoring components at our Wastewater Treatment Plant; participation in the county paving program; sell surplus equipment from our Street, Parks, and Wastewater Departments; explore a plan to improve and or replacement of Village Administration, Police Department, and Street Department facilities; and further evaluate staffing needs and add staffing that the budget will permit

A storm water feasibility study is being completed by Diversified Engineering, Inc. out of New Philadelphia.  The study will identify & evaluate any existing storm sewer features currently in place.  The study will also evaluate the feasibility of a 3-phase design to upgrade the storm system. The phases will include:

  • Replacing / upgrading the existing storm sewer from the water treatment plant to the river.
  • Construction of a retention basin and storm pipe network on the south west side of the village.
  • Construction of a retention basin and storm pipe network on the south east side of the village.

Storm water retention basins receive the storm water runoff and contain it until it infiltrates into the underlying soils. Retention basins are designed to reduce the volume of storm water runoff, remove storm water pollutants, and recharge the existing groundwater in the area.

This study is being completed with the long-term goals of developing a properly designed and operating storm water system that will alleviate flooding concerns for residents of the village and future generations.

Village Council faced many challenges and made many positive moves for the village, which included a 2% pay increase for the Village employees for 2021, restrooms for the Water Park Ball Diamonds, completion of a major gas line improvement in the village, and completion of the Coshocton Water Project (the water from Coshocton starts flowing on February 1, 2021). As we look to 2021, a major sidewalk renovation/expansion project to improve safety, mobility, and appearance within the village was applied for. We continue to strive to be business friendly and improve our Main Street appearance with greenery and floral displays and encourage the village residents to participate also.

A special thank you and sincere appreciation to all the village employees, the street department employees John Newell and Jerod Boone, water and sewer operator Ryan Cottrell, Office Manager Amy Medley, police officers, and firefighters for a job well done. Thank you, solicitor Julie Dreher, for her patience and guidance.

I must thank the citizens and employees of the Village of West Lafayette for their support throughout 2020, a difficult year, and for your continued support in 2021. We hope that 2021 will prove to be a good year and that residents of the village will continue to take pride in their homes and ensure that they personally make every effort to comply with village ordinances to ensure an attractive village that is not only attractive to those of us who are residents and call this home but to new business opportunities as well. If we do not invest in our own community how can we expect an outsider to do so.

Respectfully Submitted

Stephen R. Bordenkircher


Village of West Lafayette, Ohio

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