Lake Twp. forms citizens fire committee


MILLBURY – Thirty-three people have signed up to take part in Lake Township’s citizens fire committee to determine what kind of fire department residents will support.

Fire Chief Barrett Doren reported at the Feb. 6 trustees meeting he wants to have a discussion of where the fire department is now, where residents would like it to be, and the best option to pay for the changes.

“I think that’s fabulous,” said trustees Chair Melanie Bowen-Greenwald about the number of people who had signed up.

Doren explained he hopes the committee will give citizens a chance to understand the challenges the department is facing and dig deep into the issues.

“Not only are we going to be there to give them answers to questions, whether its statistics or things that we’re doing in the department, but we’re also going to let the citizens guide this discussion,” he said.

Trustees announced in January their intent to form the committee to get community feedback after a 4.2-mill continuing tax to fund a full-time fire department failed Nov. 7 by more than 1,000 votes.

Letters were sent to village councils within the township asking for volunteers to meet and make recommendations for what directions citizens want the fire department to go,

Council members Karen Baron and Kevin Sanders will represent the villages of Walbridge and Millbury, respectfully.

Doren said he was considering creating two groups to make it more manageable and then bring everyone together for the final meeting.

For those that don’t have a fire or EMS background, they will learn how many people it takes to do CPR and what a response to a house fire is like, Doren said.

“At the end, the goal is to have recommendations from citizens that says, ‘here is what we want Lake Township fire to look like and here’s how we want to get there,’” he said.

“Any change right now is going to cost money. There’s no two ways around it because the biggest challenge we’re going to focus on is staffing and that’s going to cost more money in some fashion,” he said.

The department has three full-time administrators, and the rest are part-time and paid per call.

Also at the meeting, trustees:

• Learned a grant to fund the installation of a pickleball court at Fireside Park had been declined.

It will cost around $10,000 to install side-by-side courts, said village Administrator Mark Hummer, who is also the police chief.

Bowen-Greenwald said they were depending on grant money before going ahead with the project.

• Agreed to send two police officers to the Maryland Human Trafficking Investigators seminar in March. The cost of travel, food and lodging will not exceed $1,750.

• Approved the purchase of ammunition for use by the police department from Kiesler Police Supply, Jeffersonville, Indiana. The cost will not exceed $2,500

• Entered into an agreement with the Wood County Commissioners for county work on various township roads. Payment of $50,000 for this year will cover equipment, labor and material costs.

• Renewed the annual subscription software for scheduling and payroll for the fire department. The township will pay When to Work Inc., Tustin, California, $1,000.

• Paid Federal Field Services LLC, Wauseon, $5,460 for maintenance on the outdoor warning sirens.

• Agreed to pay W.W. Williams, Lemoyne, $4,500 for emergency repairs to a fire department pumper.

When the department responded to a fire on Jan. 14, it was so cold some of the drains and gauges froze, Doren explained.

• Approved a payment of $5,630 to Premier Physician Services, Cincinnati, for the annual Medical Directory subscription.

• Accepted the resignation of firefighter Sean Gollehon and terminated the employment of firefighters Doug Bergman and Christopher Zeller for failure to meet requirements.

• Learned fiscal officer John Ervin had been able to complete 2023 bank reconciliations up to November. He said he should be caught up by the end of February.

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