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The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council heard presentations on a funding request from Main Street Van Wert and a state initiative to pass a state victims’ rights constitutional amendment during its meeting Monday.

Emily Hunter, northwest Ohio field director for Marsy’s Law in Ohio, talks about State Issue 1, which seeks voter approval of a constitutional amendment to protect victims’ rights. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Dan Baisden, Main Street Van Wert program manager, was on hand to talk about a request for funds to help hire a consultant to assist with an application for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places program.

Baisden said inclusion in the program would allow downtown building owners to apply for grants and other funding to rehab their buildings, which he said would lead, in turn, to increased economic development and more tax revenues to the city.

“If you have one of our empty buildings downtown and it’s filled with people and workers and historic value, it makes more sense (financially),” Baisden noted.

He also said hiring a consultant was crucial, since the application process can take up to five years without a consultant, compared to 1 to 1½ years with a consultant.

City Council unanimously approved preparation of legislation that would make a supplemental appropriation of $3,000 to Main Street Van Wert to help fund a consultant for the project. Other entities, including the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners, have also provided financial assistance for the project, which will cost approximately $20,000.

The measure will be read three times.

Emily Hunter, northwest Ohio field director for Marsy’s Law in Ohio, an organization that has placed State Issue 1 on the ballot in November, also made a presentation on that issue, which would create a constitutional amendment to ensure that crime victims’ rights are not violated.

The law is named for Marsalee Nicholas, a California college student who was stalked and murdered by an ex-boyfriend on November 30, 1983. A similar law was first passed in California in 2008, and Hunter said a total of five states have now approved similar ballot issues.

Hunter explained that, too often, crime victims are “re-victimized” through the system because their rights are now upheld. She gave an example of a Licking County case where a woman and two others, including a police chief, were killed by the woman’s ex-boyfriend — something she said may have been avoided if the woman had been told her killer had been released from jail.

“I find Marsy’s Law to be incredibly important to the state of Ohio,” said Hunter, a crime victim herself, who added she didn’t want other victims to go through what she went through.

During his report, Mayor Jerry Mazur talked about the success of the city’s Clean Up Day on Saturday, noting that 10 dumpsters full of trash items were collected during the event.

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming added that the event was something that could be done on a regular basis, if voters would pass the 0.28-percent income tax increase.

“The citywide trash pick-up is a perfect example of something that could be afforded with the passage of the .28 tax initiative,” Fleming noted. “That’s the kind of thing we could bring to the community that we’re not doing now because we can’t afford it.”

Saturday’s event was funded primarily through a grant from the Ohio Environment Protection Agency.

During his report, Fleming also noted that all street projects were underway at this time, except the U.S. 224/Van Wert-Decatur Road project, which he said would begin in a couple of weeks.

Mayor Mazur also read a proclamation designating September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat gave an update on city finances, noting that the city was on track for a 2-percent income tax increase this year, which was not enough to significantly affect the city’s General Fund budget problems.

City Law Director John Hatcher urged Council members to make sure they completed training on Ohio’s open meetings law so that no one would inadvertently violate that law. Hatcher noted that no one has done so, at this point, but he just wanted to make sure Council members are aware of the law’s requirements.

Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Ken Markward gave a brief update on park projects within the city, including the dog park and Franklin Park projects.

During his report to Council, Health-Safety-Service Committee Chair Bill Marshall gave fellow Council members a packet containing photos and addresses of the houses where the worst code violations have taken place, noting he wanted to “put a face” to the properties with the worst records on code enforcement in the city.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, September 25, in Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 09/12/17 at 8:09 am. FILED UNDER: News