County starts long day on third floor
Local government is alive and well in Fairfield and Jefferson County. I know because I spent four hours of my Monday at the courthouse and city hall with a pen and notepad.
With Ledger reporter Lacey Jacobs gone for the day, those duties fell on my plate. I thought I might have gotten away with just a morning supervisors meeting, but a “Willy Wonka” dress rehearsal and school board meeting took Michael Leach and Vicki Tillis out of city hall duty in the evening.
Lacey didn’t tell me that the supervisors were now meeting on the third floor of the courthouse. I looked in the regular spot next to the recorder’s office and the treasurer was there.
A nice woman in the auto license department pointed me upstairs for the meeting. A stop in the clerk of court office ended quickly with a finger pointing me up another flight of stairs. By the time I walked into the already started county supervisors meeting, I disrupted the proceedings with some hacking and wheezing.
“When did you guys move up here?” I asked when everyone noted my commotion. The media should be seen and not heard in that environment.
Supervisors meeting regulars Dave Neff and Jack Ritz took their usual Monday morning spots. Maybe when I’m all done taking notes and writing stories, I can be one of those guys soaking up all the proceedings. I’m sure if I didn’t have to write about it, I’d enjoy it more.
County engineer Tom Goff got my attention talking about a $124,000 snowplow truck the county would be purchasing.
“We used to get those things for about $40,000,” he said responding to all the raised eyebrows.
Interspersed between the talk of six-figure snowplows and the fair board’s annual request for $23,000 in county funding, there was plenty of time to discuss the rabies policy and concern about an outbreak of poison hemlock weeds.
It’s good to know there are people in Jefferson County who are responsible for those things.
“The public health department is responsible to make sure a bite isn’t a rabies case,” said director of public health Chris Estle-Tedrow. “We have to close the loop on those incidents.”
County sanitarian Dan Miller was the one concerned about the poison hemlock and requested The Ledger help with educating the public about the problem. And there are still residents who wonder what some county employees do. If those residents only knew the details, they would wonder how it all gets done.
The construction and pilot cars on Highway 1 South by Southgate almost kept me from getting home before city council. I parked at French-Reneker and walked.
The media table at the city council chambers is way in the back of the room. Not a good spot for reporters who are a few years away from hearing aids. City councilman Ron Adam motioned me toward the table. I pointed to my ears and stayed in the front row. Neff was at his second meeting of the day too.
Dick DeAngelis of the All Things Italian Street Festival received permission to block off the streets on three sides of the square during the event. City administrator Jeff Clawson explained that the city is no longer rubber-stamping all event requests for completely closing streets.
He said the minimum crowd estimate for an event to qualify is 3,000 people. DeAngelis said he thought the event would draw more than 4,000. His request was approved unanimously.
The reservoir swimming controversy was next. Swimming supporter Frank Wintroub talked some history about Fairfield’s old Boy Scouts swimming pool near Glasgow Road and Burlington Avenue.
“They used to have a 25-foot tower with three diving platforms out there and only 9-feet of water with a gravel bottom,” said Wintroub. “And there were no reported incidents.”
Ah, the good old days when we didn’t worry about every possible danger and lawsuits lurking about.
City councilmen John Revolinski and Michael Halley voted against an ordinance not allowing vegetable planting in the city right-of-way. Adam voted against an ordinance to require cell phone companies to pay an $8,500 escrow deposit to fund tower site plan studies. Both measures were approved.
The almost two-hour council meeting didn’t seem that long. My 11 pages of notes proved otherwise.
Government is almost as entertaining as watching baseball. Almost.
Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Fairfield Ledger.