KALIDA - Council members for the Village of Kalida held their first meeting of the new year on Monday, in the process covering an ambitious agenda due to the weather-related cancellation of the Jan. 6 meeting. The agenda included the annual reorganization of council committees, with Mayor Alan Gerdeman placing new members Sandy Fortman and Jon Edelbrock in roles he deemed best suited to their areas of expertise.

Kalida Police Chief Jim Gulker presented his year-end report, noting that Ohio state law requires that part-time officers must work 24 hours or less per week, on average. "Essentially, it's 25 hours or higher is when you need to start offering benefits, according to Ohio law," explained Gulker.

In 2013, Kalida police officers issued 42 citations (38 for speed; four for reckless operation or traffic control devices and driving under suspension) 187 warnings for traffic stops, made seven arrests, handled six traffic accidents, and performed 819 safety checks on businesses.

Public safety was placed front and center by Council member Bob Buss. Buss referenced William Shaw, the 75-year-old man who was found frozen to death earlier this month in his Bath Township home on North Cool Road.

"I think we need to look seriously into inspecting any residential places that are upstairs in town, downtown especially," said Buss, whose biggest concern was with emergency exits. "It would be embarrassing if something like that happened in town and the village didn't do anything to make it safe."

"That falls underneath the fire department," said Kalida Fire Dept. member John Schimmoeller. "We can do it, by law we're supposed to do it, but you better be ready to stand behind it. It's kind of one of those out-of-sight-out-of-mind things right now. If you start writing citations that say you have so many days to fix it, it's all going to go into court. How far do you want to push it?"

"If there are safety issues and we know about it, and we're just ducking our heads in the sand, well, then do something about it," said Gerdeman.

"We'll get on this and do what we can do," responded Fire Chief Joe Selhorst.

Other council business included:

Engineer Greg Bockrath presented tentative illustrations OVERSET FOLLOWS:to continue the Village's street improvement. Council reviewed maps of proposed work on Fourth Street and Plum Street. Public meetings are planned for each project on Feb. 5 and 11. Council approved a 15-foot easement to allow the Kalida Telephone Company to run a fiber optic cable across from Remlinger Fish Farm along U.S. 224. Council member Dick Schulte announced that the Park Committee wished to call the new village park "Four Seasons Park." Council approved. Schulte was reappointed as council president. Council considered making all council members salaried in order to comply with Ohio Public Employee Retirement System reporting requirements. Council observed a moment of silence in memory of former council member Dale Nienberg who died Sunday. Members voted to donate a book in Nienberg's honor to the Putnam County District Library.