COLUMBUS GROVE — Officials in Columbus Grove found the silver lining in a recent act of vandalism — graffiti, including a racial slur, slathered in red paint on a building in Hall Avenue Park.

Village Administrator Jeff Vance, during council’s meeting on Monday, reported employees immediately addressed the issue, temporarily covering the offensive material with spray paint. He then recommended a more permanent solution.

“As I walked around and looked, I realized the whole building could actually use a good powerwashing and painting,” Vance said, adding a second building on the east side of the park was in similar condition.

Vance then advised he proactively contacted a local contractor for estimates on painting the two buildings, as well as a third.

“I also asked him to give us a price on painting the gazebo in Memorial Park, which is in dire need of painting,” Vance told council. “It looks pretty tacky.”

Following a brief discussion, council approved an estimated expenditure of $10,074 for the reconditioning of all three structures.

As for those responsible for the vandalism, CGPD Officer Russell Lammers reported an investigation into the matter yielded results.

“They were all Grove kids, and one was a Leipsic kid,” Lammers said, adding charges were filed, and the juveniles would soon appear in juvenile court.

Council also briefly discussed a village issue on the upcoming November ballot. The language of the issue — a 1.5 mill property tax renewal — has, according to Mayor Ken Wright, the potential to create confusion.

In keeping with Ohio Revised Code, the reason for the levy could be listed solely as, “For the purpose of current expenses.” However, the levy will pay for, and is solely dedicated to, needed street lighting within the village.

Wright told council some voters might misconstrue the intent of the levy, believe the monies generated will simply go into the village’s general fund, when there is, in fact, a distinct street lighting fund to which they are committed.

Wright emphasized the need for council and village employees to address the issue with village residents.

“If this doesn’t get renewed, we’re going to be looking at what are we going to do about lights in Columbus Grove,” Wright told council.

Addressing a recent concern with water billing, Vance and Fiscal Officer Shana Kerns reported many residents never received bills issued at the end of August.

“Basically what happened was the Columbus Post Office lost the entire tray of water bills; so they lost all 930 of them for seven days,” Kerns told council. “They ended up miraculously finding them. They were all postmarked August 31, the day they were sent in.”

Responding to the issue, Vance provided council with a letter he proposed sending all residents advising them of the opportunity to receive bills via email. He further reported, after discussing the matter with Mayor Wright, all late fees associated with that specific billing period will be waived.

Council also addressed a recent Ohio Department of Transportation study of the Sycamore Street/State Route 65 intersection. Vance said the company performing the study for ODOT made several recommendations. Included in the list were both left and right turn lanes in both directions on SR 65, as well as left turn lanes from Sycamore onto the state route.

Also suggested was the removal of a crosswalk across SR 65, a suggestion Vance didn’t immediately support.

Vance reported all proposals were still under consideration, and, in all likelihood, action on improvements, once approved, won’t go into effect until 2024.

In other business, council:

• was advised of progress in the removal and construction of sidewalks along Broadway Street. Removal on the east side is complete, and crews have switched to the west side. The pouring of new sidewalks will begin before the end of the week, according to Vance.

• heard negotiations with surrounding municipalities to create a fire district are ongoing.

The next regular meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the community building on Road 8-P.