LEIPSIC — Sidewalks, pay rates, and railroads were the dominant issues addressed by members of the Leipsic Village Council during its Monday meeting, with council acceding to requests for emergency action on seven of 12 items placed before them.

One such was the second reading of a resolution addressing issues related to the actions of three railroads in the village, their effect on local business and traffic, and maintenance of railroad property. Through the resolution, the village aims to establish increased dialogue and collaboration with the railroads and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“This is just establishing that the Village of Leipsic will be a cooperative partner in addressing concerns with rail traffic and rail maintenance within the village limits,” Village Administrator Justin Barnhart stated.

Council President David Heitmeyer — who, in the absence of Mayor Kevin Benton assumed the role of mayor during the meeting — queried Mr. Barnhart as to whether he’d had contact with the rail commission.

“We have heard back from the federal railroad administration,” Mr. Barnhart responded. “They’ve got a guy who’s supposed to be up here within the next several weeks to examine the problem. He did say, though, the increased train lengths with CSX have been causing similar problems around the state. They’ve had some real public safety issues that have been looked at, but it’s been hard to get changes done. The folks at CSX are aware of this resolution, and have expressed and acted in the interest of working together with the village.”

The impetus for the resolution arose when a CSX train recently came to a standstill for seven hours, blocking a number of streets and roads through the village. An explanation for the event was provided by Councilor Rick Recker — by state law, the engineer had reached the maximum number of consecutive hours of operation and was required to stop. However, several councilors pointed out the engineer could have stopped his train in such a way as to minimize, if not eliminate, street and road blockages. It was further pointed out this was simply the most egregious of train stoppages, not the only — a point quickly picked up by Cher Barnes, one of three Leipsic mayoral candidates on the November ballot and a visitor at Monday’s meeting

“It’s hurting businesses in town,” she said. “I mean, we had to refund, personally, a $400 delivery that day. I’m not driving to Ottawa or Deshler to go to McComb. Delivery time to even ProTec or Mars is … They’re telling us they want it there at 11:30 a.m. Meh. We’ll try to be there by noon, because you can’t guarantee times any longer because of the trains stopping. And I know it’s not just our business that it’s hurting.”

With no further discussion, council approved the resolution — scheduled for its second reading — on an emergency basis.

Council also approved the third and final reading of two resolutions increasing the rate of pay for members of council and the mayor. At present, council receives $3,000 per year, and the mayor, $4,000. Under the new scale, council will receive $4,200, and the mayor, $6,000. The new rate will go into effect following the November general election. Council also approved a five percent increase for Water Superintendent Russ Teders, who completed his probationary period in that role.

In other business, council:

• opted to neither engage in, nor withdraw from, an opiate litigation class action lawsuit underway on behalf of municipalities in the wake of the ongoing opioid crisis.

• agreed to pick up the $260 tab for security services during this year’s Main Street U.S.A. festival.

• appointed Rick Moyer to the Leipsic Walks Board.

• approved an easement for Consolidated Communication on the Christman land for the purpose of servicing a new home being built by PC Habitat for Humanity.

• entered executive session to discuss the sale of property. No action was immediately taken.

The next regular meeting of the Leipsic Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the village offices.