Newly elected to a council seat, Todd Wolfe sat in and observed procedures at the last meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council. Wolfe’s term begins Jan. 1. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)
Newly elected to a council seat, Todd Wolfe sat in and observed procedures at the last meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council. Wolfe’s term begins Jan. 1. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

COLUMBUS GROVE — Though precisely where, what, when, or who will have ultimate control over it, the potential for a Village Marquee stutter-stepped just that much closer to fruition during Monday’s council meeting. The marquee is intended to apprise residents — and those simply passing through the village — of upcoming events and emergencies, should any come to pass, and promote local businesses.

Representing the Columbus Grove Chamber of Commerce, Cory King first approached council with the idea for a marquee roughly two months months ago. At that time, King was simply floating the idea, testing the waters of its possibility. On Monday, King offered an update on the effort, and sought greater direction from council.

King informed council a double-sided digital sign, which the Chamber has offered to pay for in full, comes at an estimated cost of $25,000. Permanently installed and dressed up with pavers, the cost rises to as much as $50,000.

“So, before we put that kind of money forth, we want to get an idea from council as to where you recommend this sign possibly go,” King said. “Are we looking at maybe putting it where the new fire station might be two years from now?”

Receptive to putting the sign on village property, council bandied about a variety of possible sites, including the aforementioned potential fire station, on the Turner Hall lot, and in front of the municipal building.

Council also discussed, given its potential placement on public property, the possibility of helping to finance the sign. Village Administrator Jeff Vance, with a supporting nod from Clerk-Treasurer Shana Kerns, suggested American Rescue Plan monies might possibly be used to that effect.

Given the new variables brought into play, no final action was taken, though council will revisit the matter in upcoming meetings.

On a far more serious note, Kerns advised council of an effort to defraud the village of thousands of dollars. Kerns became aware of the theft early on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 9.

“Someone decided to write fraudulent checks — make their own — under the Village of Columbus Grove,” Kerns said. “My name was signed to it. Jeff’s name was signed. (The check) says ‘Clerk’s Office of Columbus Grove, Treasurer of said Village.’”

According to Kerns, in total, $7,000 in checks forged to appear as village checks were cashed.

“These were all checks that were cashed through an on-line banking service through mobile deposit,” Kerns said.

However, as Kerns routinely, and daily, reviews activity in the village accounts, she was able to immediately contact the bank, which is now working to retrieve the village funds.

Responding to the theft, Kerns told council she enrolled the village in a program, Positive Pay, which requires approval for all fund transfers.



 

“Most businesses and most villages are going to this because of this problem,” Kerns said. “It costs us $60 a month, but I literally have to type in every single check that I write before they will cash them. So this will never happen again. No check gets cashed out of our account unless I approve it first.”

In other business, council:

• was advised the village’s updated junk ordinance in is the hands of Village Solicitor Lee Schroeder. Council will likely review and hold a first reading of the ordinance at its last meeting in November.

• on the recommendation of Police Chief Sean Hiler, directed Hiler to research the placement of surveillance cameras at Hall Avenue Park. Siler made the recommendation in the face of repeated incidents of vandalism and illicit activity at the park.

• welcomed Todd Wolfe as a guest. Wolfe — along with sitting councilors Skyler Mayberry, Pete Langhals, and Brian Schroeder — received the most votes in last week’s general election. Wolfe will replace Councilor Greg Heckel, who opted against running for another term.

The next regular meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building.