Hiram – At the last Council meeting, resident Brenda Smith voiced her desire for the Village to review policies and training for Village employees regarding racial equality in light of recent events. Stating her desire to “open a dialogue”, she asked what Hiram is doing now to stand up for racial equality. She noted disappointment that citizens we not permitted to post banners in support of “Black Lives Matter” in front of the Rosser Municipal Building. Hiram Police Chief Brian Gregory explained that the decision not to post political banners stemmed from the desire to protect the Village from damage, noting his concern that such messages may encourage vandalism. He noted that racial unrest is “a serious matter, in our and every community.” Gregory noted that the HPD has been part of the Ohio Collaborative since 2018, a certification that helps the HPD establish standards and ‘best practices’ for the Department, including, in the areas of racial equality and the proper use of force. He noted that as Chief, his job is to protect the Village; he felt that allowing the display of political information could be detrimental to the Village, which was why the group’s request was not honored.
In other public comment, resident Tom Bollenbacher proposed the formation of a new advisory committee to foster economic development within the Village of Hiram. He noted, “there’s a lot we can do here, such as joint ventures with the college, which could provide new income streams for the Village.” He noted that pursuing such an initiative would help make the Village more livable for students, residents, and visitors. He noted having brief discussions with individuals and college staff about a variety of potential projects including the possibility of transforming the former College President’s home into a destination restaurant. Mayor Lou Bertrand added the idea of working together with area communities, noting that the area is considered a “diamond in the rough.” An initial public meeting was held to determine the structure and purposed intent of the organization; it was noted that interested parties are welcome to join. The current committee includes Robert Dempsey, Paul Spencer, and Tom Bollenbacher, for more information, call the Village office at (330) 569-7677.
Next, Tim Sommer approached Council seeking permission to use the Village’s baseball field near Jagow Park to host games for a youth traveling baseball team. After considerable discussion on how to best follow guidelines in order to protect players and spectators from the potential spread of Covid-19, Council approved the request, with a caveat that coaches and players families sign a release stating their compliance to established governmental guidelines which will be provided to Sommer by Village Solicitor Tom Reitz.
In his Police report, Chief Gregory noted that three new reserve officers were recently sworn in. He also noted that the Department is stocked up on personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. In his Fire Report, Chief Bill Byers noted that the Fire Department responded to 32 calls during the previous month. Responding to a question from Councilman Paul Spencer about video surveillance in case of allegations of abuse, Chief Byers noted that while cameras are located inside the building, no cameras are in the response vehicles or on officers or EMTs. Solicitor Reitz was asked to research the legality of the issue, specifically in regards to HIPPA.
In similar news, Village Administrator James McGee noted that all cameras are installed and operational at the sewer plant, Village Park, and at the gazebo. He noted that a water break in early June had his team working 36 hours straight to resolve the issue. He added that complaints regarding emergency communication have led them to look into solutions on how to more effectively inform residents of issues and/or emergencies. Lastly, he noted that the water meter replacement project is on hold, since government grant funding is on hold.
The next Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 14th at 7 pm; please visit hiramvillage.org to ascertain whether the meeting will be conducted online or in person.