COLUMBUS GROVE — Putnam County Engineer Mike Lenhart attended a portion of Monday evening’s Columbus Grove Village Council meeting to discuss recent and upcoming ditch maintenance work on Plum Creek within municipal limits.

Recently, the Sentinel’s sister paper, the Columbus Grove Vidette, published an update on ditch maintenance work that included a quote of Mr. Lenhart saying, “We’ll go through, and [the contractor] will do what we’ve been doing — cleaning out all the log jams, silt bars, and dead and leaning trees. But, if there’s something else that somebody wants done, they need to let us know.”

Mr. Lenhart qualified that statement during Monday’s meeting, placing it within the context of the goal of ditch maintenance — to allow the free flow of water as much as possible.

“We want everybody to be happy with what we can do,” Mr. Lenhart said Monday evening. Adding later, “If there are trees that are on top of the bank, and they’re not impeding the flow of the water, we don’t take them out.”

As such, the county’s contractor will not work to improve the aesthetics of the creek, but the engineer’s office does intend to address concerns on anything that may impact the water’s flow (One private landowner, it should be noted, worked out their own deal with the contractor to remove trees on their property while ditch maintenance work is being done, with the landowner paying the cost).

Within this commitment, there again was a further qualification — access. The county’s contractor accesses the creek through village owned land, but such access is not available throughout the creek’s run through municipal limits where much of it is controlled by private landowners. The ability to perform maintenance work is also limited due to the presence of power lines and their poles. Mr. Lenhart suggested that AEP should be contacted (by the village, it was inferred) to conduct maintenance on the trees growing near power lines.

There are two sections in particular where access poses an issue. The first is between West and Sycamore streets, where both sides of the ditch are inaccessible and no maintenance work is planned. And also between St. Rte. 12 and West St., where only one side of the ditch will reportedly be cleared.

Near the end of the council meeting, village officials returned to the Plum Creek discussion. They opined that most landowners along the creek would grant access to the engineer’s contractor for ditch maintenance work if asked. There seemed to be some disagreement over whether or not such requests for access should be made by the county engineer’s office, which is charged with ditch maintenance, or by the village, which seeks the best possible outcome for its residents.

Prior to Monday night’s meeting, council members held an outdoor session at the example antique lamp located on S. High St. near the Turner St. intersection. Village workers had placed potential attachments on the pole for officials to view. These included a two and a half by four foot American flag, a representation of a banner, and two options for flower baskets. The consensus seemed that council members all approved of the flag. They liked the banner, but thought it should not be on every pole, and particularly not on poles where it would block the signs of local businesses or come too close to their awnings. And, they felt the flower basket should be placed higher.

Council members also took the opportunity to walk down to Turner Hall and view its conditions as a group. Nearly all remarked that the facility was in much better condition than they had imagined. No decision has yet been made regarding Turner Hall, and the village seems a long ways off from any determination.

Paulette Mills of Poggemeyer design group later presented council with grant funding opportunities following the completion of the village’s income survey. She highlighted a number of possibilities, including potential funding for rehabilitating Turner Hall; improving sidewalks and other infrastructure; and a CDBG grant opportunity available to private business owners seeking to maintain the structural integrity of their building.

Roughly five owners in violation of village ordinances on maintaining their properties are nearing the August 31 deadline for correcting those violations, with no apparent work being done. They will be invited to the Sept. 9 council meeting to discuss any issues they may be having. Should they choose not to attend, the village will move forward with hiring its own contractor to fix the violations, placing the cost of the property taxes of the owner.

Council members thanked village workers, with Mayor Ken Wright explicitly thanking “Jeff & Lisa,” for their work in making the previous Sunday’s concert at Uptown Commons a success. All reported an enjoyable evening and a well-received concert.

The next meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council will take place on Monday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public, and they are invited to attend.