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Pickerington reinstates Fourth of July celebration
After some confusion and mind changing, Pickerington Council members have voted in favor of reinstating the city's Fourth of July celebration.
On its first two readings, Pickerington council voted 4 to 3 in favor of an ordinance that would reinstate the city's Fourth of July celebration.
Council members Jeff Fix, Michael Sabatino, Tricia Sanders and Brian Sauer originally favored the ordinance while council members Cristie Hammond, Keith Smith, and Brian Wisniewski voted against the ordinance.
When Fix could not attend the June 2 council meeting for the final reading, it looked as if the ordinance would lack the majority necessary to pass.
Then Smith changed his vote.
The ordinance would also appropriate $18,500 for a phone survey (which is already being conducted) and a $6,000 council retreat to review the results of the survey. The intent of the survey is to gauge what, if any, tax increases Pickerington residents would accept.
Smith said he changed his vote because he wanted to pay for the survey.
"Two of the issues are very, very important to me and one isn't," Smith said. "(Protesting the fireworks) is not important enough to scuttle the appropriation ordinance."
Wisniewski alleged that Smith's change of heart was orchestrated by Fix who "wears-down" his fellow council members with repeated phone calls until they change their positions.
"If things are so important, argue their merits on the council floor rather than working behind the scenes to trade votes," Wisniewski said.
Smith said he speaks with Fix frequently, but Fix "never asked me to change my vote, never insinuated - never hinted."
"I don't see anything wrong with talking (to other council members outside of official meetings)," Smith said. "We are prohibited from conducting business."
If any members discuss business behind the scenes, Smith said he has "no knowledge of it" and he denies any "personal participation in it."
Wisniewski said he would have abstained to allow the ordinance to pass had Smith not changed his vote. Previously Wisniewski requested that the ordinance be split so that the fate of the survey and the fate of the Independence Day festivities would not be intertwined, but that motion did not pass.
The total cost of the Independence Day festivities, including the parade, entertainment, fireworks and police overtime will be $24,000.
Last year, the council voted to cancel the Fourth of July festivities to save money after voters rejected an income tax increase.
Sauer, who campaigned on a platform of township-city harmony, combed the Pickerington budget for $12,000 and then approached the Violet trustees for the other half.
The township and the city have a history of squabbling, but recently had taken unified steps. In addition to providing a community Independence Day celebration, they recently entered into a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) agreement with Canal Winchester.
However, City Attorney Phil Hartmann announced that township officials appeared before the Fairfield County commissioners to protest Pickerington's annexation of the city pool.
In an e-mail Hartman received from commission manager Scott Zody, Zody wrote that Violet Township Operations Director Bill Yaple and an attorney objected on the grounds that the pool remain a public property rather than a business.
"The spirit of co-operation?" Wisniewski questioned. "We bought it, we maintain it and the township still shows up to oppose it for no reason other than just to be difficult."
"We even went out of our way to ensure township residents did not pay a penny more than they did before," Smith said.
Last year, the township objected when the city annexed its own water treatment plant on Diley Road because of a discrepancy in acreage. The issue was resolved and the commissioners approved that annexation as well, Hartmann said.
• A worker constructing the new wastewater treatment plant fell between nine and 15 feet onto a cement slab, Service Director Ed Drobina said.
He suffered minor injuries to his head and back and was taken to a local hospital.
The Violet Township Fire Department lowered a rescuer by crane to reach the worker, City Manager Tim Hansley said. "They did an excellent job."
• Columbus Street at Diley Road closed June 1 and will not open until the beginning of July, Drobina said.
Preston Trails may close for a few days at Diley as needed.
The city just received a change-order for the Diley project for an additional $500,000 to cover the increased cost of blacktop, Hansley said.
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