By Early Saturday afternoon, emergency responders has all but cleared the area, and rubble was all that remained of the four businesses that once occupied the 100 block of North High and West Sycamore streets.
By Early Saturday afternoon, emergency responders has all but cleared the area, and rubble was all that remained of the four businesses that once occupied the 100 block of North High and West Sycamore streets.

COLUMBUS GROVE — Not surprisingly, Friday night’s devastating fire was a subject of discussion during Monday’s meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council, weaving in and out of conversations as the hour-long meeting progressed.

“I think it’s important that I make a few statements about what transpired in the village and give proper recognition so if anybody’s going through the minutes 20 years from now they’ll see what we did with regard to the disaster,” Mayor Ken Wright said by way of opening the meeting. “I first want to say, on behalf of the village, a big thank you to our fire department.”

While grateful in general to all of the firefighters and emergency personnel on scene, Wright specifically singled out Fire Chief Bob Brubaker and Village Administrator Jeff Vance — himself a member of the Columbus Grove Fire Department — for their efforts.

“I think I left around 2 o’clock in the morning,” Wright said. “I went back up in the morning relatively early, and the same people who were there at two were still there. Once again, I came back at lunch time, and the same people were still up there wrapping things up. For five bucks an hour, what dedication.”

Wright moved on to thank the fire departments from nine communities who rode out to assist, as well as the law enforcement officers and EMS units who arrived from out of town.

While recognizing the village has mutual aid agreements with these departments, he acknowledged their efforts on behalf of Columbus Grove. “In my mind, it needs to be pointed out that these people came out and gave of their time to help us out in this emergency,” he said. “We thank them a bunch.”

Wright further expressed his gratitude to Ottawa resident Jason Ball, who on hearing of the disaster established a GoFundMe effort to raise monies for the business owners affected by the fire.

Wright also pronounced his appreciation for, and pride in, the residents of the village, many of whom delivered food and water to the first responders battling the blaze, a sentiment Vance seconded.

“We didn’t have to hurt for water or food,” Vance said. “We had businesses bringing stuff, individuals bringing cases of water and Gatorade. So, thank you, from the fire department.”

Later, among several repeated returns to the topic, Vance told council he hopes the site will be cleaned up within two weeks, with workers going so far as to remove the footers of the buildings destroyed. He also advised that he contacted the offices of State Representative Jim Hoops, State Senator Robert McColley, and U.S. Representative Bob Latta, querying the public officials as to what aid might be available for the business owners.

Council also re-addressed truck traffic concerns raised during its last meeting on Nov. 9.

Vance reported the village can post a No Through Trucks sign on Elm Street. To do so, however, the village will have to coordinate with various county and state agencies and establish an alternate route for the truck traffic.

On the subject, Police Chief Sean Hiler said, more often than not, the truckers don’t intend to drive through the village.

“They almost always don’t know where they’re at, and they’re looking for PPI,” Hiler said.

While no firm plans were laid to address the issue, Wright advised the effort is well worth the taking.

“Maybe we can’t get anything done, but we should try,” he said.

In other business, council:

• heard a grant application for new playground equipment was submitted earlier this month, but, due to the COVID pandemic, a response isn’t anticipated until mid to late summer of 2021.

• heard that a grant exists for the construction of a walking path around Hall Avenue Park. As the deadline for applications is still two years away, council took no immediate action.

• were advised the last day for leaf pickup this year is Monday, Nov. 30. Delayed by high winds on Sunday, Nov. 15, members of Columbus Grove Schools’ Leo Club will rake leaves this coming Sunday. Mayor Wright recommended, should anyone wish to have their help, they contact the school.

The next regular meeting of the Columbus Grove Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the community room adjacent to the municipal pool on Road 8-P.