BY STEPHANIE GROVES
OTTOVILLE - A number of residents attended the Ottoville Village Council meeting Monday night to voice their concerns regarding the possibility of a Dollar General Store being constructed across from the high school on US 224, as well as to learn first-hand the reason behind the Auglaize Street water lines freezing.
A few residents spoke on the positive impact having a Dollar General Store would have on the community.
Jerry Hohlbein said prior articles in the newspaper have reflected a negative point of view, something that is not a good reflection left on the town "that we call home."
"There is always two sides to every story," Hohlbein said. "Equal time could be given where citizens can express their positive views and desires before the administration [village council] makes the final decision."
Hohlbein feels it [Dollar General Store] is a golden opportunity that seldom comes along to villages with a population of less than 1,000. He feels the new adventure could open the door for commercial growth which everyone will benefit from. In addition, Hohlbein feels closing the door on this opportunity could have a lasting negative impact on the community for generations.
Owner of Subway Jim Rhodes said there are rumors that people who enter or shop at Dollar General are low-income.
"I shop there," Rhodes said.
Rhodes also addressed the potential safety concern for the students wanting to cross over US 224 and go to the Dollar General.
"The kids will be at the junior high level or older," he said. "Kids should have been taught how to cross a road safely by that age."
Rhodes said Dollar General is an expanding business.
"Why stop them from coming into this town?" he asked. "What will happen to this town and our future?"
Councilman Tony Langhals said the location is the issue.
"There are a fair amount of people in favor," Langhals said. "I hate to get aggressive at this time."
Langhals voted against John Schimmoeller's request to tap into the forced water main across from the high school.
Councilman Randy Altenburger feels Dollar General is a necessity.
"With all things considered - Schimmoeller tapping in and annexing the property - we should continue to pursue speed limit reduction," Altenburger said. "I vote we continue to allow Schimmoeller to proceed."
Council voted to allow Schimmoeller to tap in.
Mayor Ron Miller said the tap-in is allowed and the village will draft a letter to propose the speed reduction - 35 miles per hour on both sides - from the edge of the bridge to the corporation limit.
Miller Contracting representative Josh Clay and Brian Goubeaux of Choice One Engineering were on hand and spoke with council and discussed the frozen water lines on Auglaize Street.
Last week, council held a special meeting to address the situation where Miller reported that the majority of the houses on the south side of the street were being affected. He said there were eight or nine houses that had frozen water lines and the village started getting reports of frozen pipes the second week of January.
Clay and Goubeaux explained that after the water system was installed, the excavation was backfilled with the compaction gravel and water was used to aid the process.
"The moisture in the stone back fill has traveled down and deepened the frost line," Clay said.
"We need information. Is this going to be an ongoing situation or is it due to the extreme weather conditions?" Miller asked. "We don't want to tear up the road and we want to fix the problem."
"It's the sixth coldest winter in the history of documenting the weather," Clay said. "It could be freezing at the road, we don't know."
"Are service lines at specification depth?" Altenburger asked. "Why doesn't the east side of the street have the same problems?"
"Some service lines went over the storm sewer and some run under," Clay said. "We had to come up to meet the customer's line from the houses."
Clay said he did not know if the village would find out of the furnace trailer until they went through another winter. He emphasized that everybody involved in the decision-making processes used their best judgement.
So far the village has spent $4,000 to repair three lines on Auglaize and another by the hardware store.
Miller suggested an extension of the warranty, which would give the village close to an extra six months after the original warranty was up and give the village one more winter to be sure the system is OK.
"If you followed the plans, then we'll have to fix it [frozen lines]," Miller said. "We can work on an agreement if you [Clay] get more information on an extended warranty."
Council approved the purchase of a new 500-gallon double-wall diesel tank at approximately $2,900 which will be located at the sewer plant to service the diesel generator, equipment and vehicles. Street Supervisor Barry Koester suggested pouring a concrete pad to place the tank on.
Board of Public Affairs members Phil Hilvers and Dan Honigford reported the new water meter reader ordered in October is in. Hilvers suggested Fiscal Officer Jeanne Wannemacher and Water and Sewage Treatment Plant Manager Steve Wittler and employee Chad Knippen take the training session on use of the meter.
Fire Chief Dan Honigford reported that the fire department has been looking into remodeling the exterior of the fire station. He said they have an architect that will produce color renderings - at $1,000 - of a variety of facades and changes in the structure.
"We would be looking at changing windows and doors," Honigford said. "I'd like to start on it this summer."
After a brief discussion, council recommended looking into the furnace and air conditioning before putting any money into remodeling the exterior.
Koester requested funds for a trailer to use to keep the department's cold mix on, which would lead to less waste - since it is kept on the floor of their building - and expedite the street repair process.
"M&W is doing the metal work and welding the axle," Koester said. "The rest we are doing in-house and it will cost close to $3,500."
Council also discussed implementing sidewalks on State Route 66 west on Sunset Drive. They all agree not having sidewalks is a safety issue.
"Residents have the option of having it put in by their own contractor or we will have our contractor install it," Miller said. "Their contractors will have to follow the same specifications."
Residents will pay 70 percent of the cost and the village will pick up the remaining 30 percent.
The next village meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 24.