Council addresses many topics at meeting


By Jennifer Woods - jwoods@aimmediamidwest.com



Several topics were discussed during Wednesday’s Washington Court House City Council meeting, including Beggars’ Night, the Christmas parade, state assistance for small businesses, legislation and early voting.

City manager Joe Denen said, “We have Beggars’ Night coming up. Folks, you need to stay safe, you need to drive safe, you need to mind the kids that will be out, and it doesn’t appear like it’ll be the best weather we’ve ever had.”

“Isn’t that traditional?” laughed council member Kendra Redd-Hernandez.

“Usually,” said Denen. “Now, everybody has an opinion about this, and I don’t want to get into the politics of it at all. All this is Joe Denen asking you — if you make a decision that you want to hand out candy that night, or you make a decision that you want to take your kid out trick or treating that night, please wear a mask. All this is, is me asking you to please just do that. Today, somebody that I personally knew, I was informed that they passed away. It’s a very simple thing folks, and I ask that you please just do that. Everybody needs to think about and make a decision about participating or not. If you’re concerned about it, if you’re worried about it, don’t participate. If you feel comfortable doing that, then you can go out and participate. If you want more information the health department put together, you can look at that so you can make an informed decision about what you want to do.”

The information from Fayette County Public Health, which provides tips for staying safe during trick-or-treat, can be found on its Facebook page, “Fayette County Public Health-OHIO.”

Tips include: limiting the number of houses being visited and asking children to stay as far from treat-givers and other trick-or-treaters as possible, consider holding bags for smaller children, if a child is at greater risk for complications from COVID-19 then speak to his/ her doctor prior to participating, allow children to eat only factory-wrapped treats, avoid homemade treats made by strangers, look left then right then left again before crossing the street, use sidewalks, cross at stoplights and crosswalks, watch for cars turning or backing up, wear reflective tape, use glow-sticks or carry a flashlight, carry and use hand-sanitizer especially after coming into contact with frequently touched surfaces and before eating candy, check temperatures before leaving home, and those with a fever or signs of illness should stay home.

“If you do participate, please use some common sense, wear a mask. If you have a fever or any symptoms whatsoever, please stay home. Please don’t go out. Please don’t hand out candy. That would be enormously helpful,” said Denen. “You get the reminder that every day and the actions that you choose, you can make a difference with this health issue. And that’s not anybody telling you what you have to do or don’t have to do, because we’re all getting tired of that. We’re all very tired of that. This is just a most sincere request that you think about, when you go out in public, you wear a mask, think about washing your hands, use common sense, and that you make that effort.”

Those who don’t feel comfortable participating in Beggars’ Night have other options to celebrate.

“We are not trick-or-treating at my house,” said Redd-Hernandez. “We’re just going to do a cute scavenger hunt on Friday afternoon in the neighborhood but safely, not involving anyone else. That way he can be in costume, and he can get treats while he’s doing that. So there are ways to, if you’re not comfortable with trick-or-treat, there are ways to still have fun and make it special for your child without having to do the main tradition.”

Council member Ted Hawk said, “I think it’s ironic that we cancelled the Christmas parade, yet we’re celebrating Halloween.”

“One thing, so folks don’t get confused, we facilitate the Christmas parade, but that is a product of the Chamber of Commerce,” explained Denen. “It’s a very difficult decision for them. The Chamber has been our partner in a number of ways, but we’re not the ones who… we facilitate the parade, but we’re not the ones who put it together.”

This year’s Christmas parade, which is organized by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, was cancelled following consultation with Fayette County Public Health and consideration of current state guidelines.

“Parades are still something that aren’t on the list of things to do,” said Denen.

Beggars’ Night for the City of Washington Court House is Thursday from 6-8 p.m.

Trick-or-treating and a cancelled parade weren’t the only topics discussed during the meeting.

Council member Steve Shiltz asked about the city’s water levels.

Denen said, “that’s something that we’ll continue to look at and monitor. It’s not to the point where we need to take any action, it’s at the point which I’d personally get concerned about it, but it’s nowhere — it’s not at a point where you need to take any particular action.”

The current bridge project on Temple Street is nearing completion, according to Denen, who also discussed a new program the state is doing to assist local businesses with lost finances this year.

This assistance is different from a grant program the city and county are offering to locally-owned small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Although the state program is different from the local programs, the state program is similar as it offers up to $10,000 in assistance and is also for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

“They’ve set aside a certain amount of money so that each county, regardless of their population, will have a certain number of businesses that they can provide that assistance to. It’s nice that the state of Ohio has caught up with what we just got done doing,” said Denen.

There is also assistance for bars and restaurants as well as home relief grants. For more information on these three assistance programs, visit www.businesshelp.ohio.gov.

“If they have any difficulty applying, certainly they can contact us and we can figure out how we can help them,” said Denen. “That is something that’s important. It’s an opportunity that businesses ought to look into. Again, it is completely separate from what we just did, so don’t get the two confused.”

As for legislation, there were three resolutions heard during the meeting. The first time legislation is seen and approved by council it is placed on a first reading and the second time on a second reading. Adoption of resolutions can occur once they have been placed on the second reading.

Two of the three resolutions were placed on second reading and were then adopted.

One of the adopted resolutions accepts the amounts and rates determined by the budget commission that authorizes tax levies and certifies them to be sent to the county auditor.

As previously reported and explained by Denen, “essentially, the Fayette County Auditor sends us the documentation of the tax levies annually, and the city responds with legislation agreeing that the auditor’s documents are correct.”

The other resolution that was adopted allows an agreement to be entered into with the director of Ohio transportation. This agreement is for a guardrail replacement project on US 753 and US 22.

The third resolution was tabled per the request of Denen.

If and when adopted, the resolution would declare a specific day as “Purple Heart Day,” which would then allow Washington C.H. to be designated as a “Purple Heart City.”

The reason for the requested tabling of the Purple Heart legislation, according to Denen, is so it can be passed once a celebration could be held to go with its adoption. The original planned date and celebration for Oct. 14 was postponed, as that week’s council meeting was cancelled due to rising COVID cases within the county.

According to www.purpleheart.org/about-the-purple-heart/, “the Purple Heart Medal is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.”

To learn about the history of the Purple Heart, visit www.purpleheart.org/history-of-the-medal/.

Near the meeting’s end, council member Dale Lynch shared a poem he previously wrote titled, “The Scariest Thing in America.” Lynch read it as follows:

“Each time of year when we get to month 10, we think of the same things all over again. It’s ghosts and goblins, and other scary things. Dracula with his cape or as a bat with his wings. Wicked witches are present with broomsticks and hats. You’re guaranteed to see a great many black cats. There’s hobos and trolls to add to the scare. Go to haunted houses only if you dare. A headless horseman may ride by to drive you insane, just like he did for Ichabod Crane. The werewolves come out at the 12 o’clock hour. Don’t go to the Bates Motel if you need a hot shower. There’s scary things to the left and right, and don’t forget your back. Look out for snakes and spiders when you crawl into your knapsack. Yes, there’s all kinds of frightening things this time of the year, but there’s one thing that causes me the ultimate fear. If you want to know what scares me, I’ll give you this note — the scariest thing in America is the citizen who doesn’t bother to vote.”

Early voting can be done at the Fayette County Board of Elections, 135 S. Main St. in Washington C.H., today through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., and on Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday is the final day for in-person early voting as it is the day before the election.

Washington Court House City Council meetings will be held on the second and fourth Mondays during November and December at 9:30 a.m. They will be located in the second floor council chambers of the City Administration Building, 105 N. Main Street. The meetings will be streamed live on the YouTube channel “City of Washington Court House, Ohio” at www.youtube.com/channel/UCRwMxUBn8XIQTjnSvFaGDgA.

Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.

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By Jennifer Woods

jwoods@aimmediamidwest.com