Muskingum Township
Muskingum County, Ohio

Feb. 2011 minutes





DATE: February 3, 2011


PURPOSE OF MEETING: Regular meeting.


OPENING: The Muskingum Township Trustees met in regular session on February 3, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the Fire Building.  All trustees and fiscal officer were present.


The minutes of the December 30, 2010 and January 1st, 2011 Re-organization meeting were read and corrected to read:


“Denny” & Sharon McLoughlin will be building a house on Dillon Lake Drive.


Checks approved and signed for payment.


Jerry Miller advised he spoke with Terry Elson who previously did the mowing of our cemeteries and township buildings.  He advised Miller that due to costs of fuel it would be necessary to raise his rate from $300 per month to $325 per month.  This would include mowing all cemeteries and township buildings.  Maniaci made the motion to accept Mr. Elson for the mowing to begin April 15th and finish October 15th, 2011.  Fusner seconded.  All ayed.


Mike Maniaci submitted his Bureau of Workman's Comp certificate for the completion for the online training required due to a claim being reported during the last year.  Fusner also completed the 2 hours of online training.  Certificates will be put in their personnel files.


Violet Kovaleski wanted the trustees to know that the last time she was at the township meeting she said she was going to check with her insurance company about her homeowners rates going up.  After contacting her insurance company they informed her that it had nothing to do with fire hydrants or anything about the fire department.  It was all about the storm that had happened previously.  She wanted trustees aware of this.


Miller read the monthly fire report from Falls Township.  They had:          15 EMS runs

              5 Fire runs

              4 Non-emergency runs

              1 Other run

Their average response time for January is 7.55 minutes.


Miller also read a letter received from Community Ambulance Service.  From January 2010 to June 2010 their average response time was 9.11 minutes.       92 EMS runs

76 patients transported


Steve Fusner advised that he and Mike Maniaci along with someone from the Health Department visited 6160 Georgia Road in regards to a sewage problem.  It was discovered that this is not a township issue and the health department will do further review to locate the problem.  Fusner and Maniaci also met over on Harper Drive where a resident was upset about tree trimming issues.  She stated that we had cut her tree up very bad and it was discovered we did not.  There was only approximately 5-7 small limbs cut off about the size of your thumb, so there was no damage done to the trees.


Maniaci stated he spent several nights going around to residences homes due to cars/trucks/campers being parked on the streets.  Our trucks have a hard time plowing snow and spreading salt/cinders when there are vehicles in the roadway.  He would like for everyone to please, especially during inclimate weather, to keep vehicles off the streets. 


He also wanted to let everyone know, because of lingering issues going on with petitions being filed against some trustees, he has personally heard from people whose doors have been knocked upon that they are being told that they don't have fire protection.  He wanted to assure everybody in the township that we have never had one day, one hour or one minute without fire or EMS protection.  At no time has there ever been any danger of someone not coming to your home.  Maniaci had a map of the county showing all townships and pointed out where Falls, Licking and our fire stations are located surrounding our township.  At the time of negotiations, Licking Twp told us they were going to put an additional levy on last November so that they would be able to have paid fire people in their station.  He advised in checking with the Board of Elections there was no petition filed nor any new paperwork filed other than their renewal of the levy.  So we would've had two volunteer fire departments.  Now what we have with Falls is a total of 5 engines, 1 ladder truck, 3 jaws of life, 3 defibulalors and 3 advanced life supports (ambulances).  The Falls Twp, Richey Road station has two EMT/Medics on duty 24/7 365 days a year.  The station on Dillon Falls Road has two paid EMT/Medics from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday and then its volunteered the rest of the time.  What residents have now is at least 4 people on duty for 12 hours and at least two people on duty 24 hours and up to 60 members, 22 of which are advanced medics, which can respond to anyone of these 3 stations.  There are also approximately 12 members from Muskingum Township on the Falls Township fire department now.

Maniaci had the last report submitted by the former fire department which showed a percentage of the runs that the fireman made.  26 members made less than 10% of the runs in our township.  8 members made between 10% to 25% of the runs.  3 members made between 25%-50% of the runs and had 3 members had between 50%-55% of the runs and no member made more than 55% of the runs.  Maniaci also wanted residents to know that the fire levy money does not go to Falls Township.  Every penny goes to Falls Township Fire Department. 


Brian Williams commented that he agreed with what trustees had to do with the old department, but he would've like to have seen the contract split 3 ways instead of all with Falls Township.  This being with Licking Twp, Dresden and Falls.


Marie Whitt wanted to know why this fire station couldn't have worked thing out as smoothly as they done with the transfer over to Falls Township.  Why couldn't the trustees get things to work like that here.  Maniaci informed her of the policies and procedures that needed to be put in place, because the trustees are responsible for everything that happens here.  She was concerned about the certifications of the EMT's and the truck that was suppose to have been purchased and was sitting out there unused, improperly maintained and why things weren't done to code in order to keep this fire department functioning like it is apparently very well now.  Miller explained to Ms. Whitt that we were paying for EMT training, we were paying for fireman training, and that the trustees were actually locked out of the two fire buildings for two years.  That they had not access to these building and were told they couldn't get in unless they were accompanied by the fire department.  They were able to access the building through road crew members who were past fireman and still had codes to gain entry.  Maniaci did advise Ms. Whitt that the trustees are doing what they believe is in the best interest to everybody in this township.  And they believe that the fire department that we employ now is what's best for this township.  And we still have our equipment, Falls Twp FD is using it, but we have not given it to them. 


Tom Huey wanted to know, across the state of Ohio, most rural fire departments are run like Falls Township.  Why wasn't that tried in our township?  Maniaci informed Mr. Huey that the fire department led the trustees at the time to believe that they would not use the money properly.  Therefore, they did not want to turn that over to those people at the time.  Also it had been brought up to the fire members at one time and they declined it.


Thelma Cohagen wanted to answer some of Ms. Whitts questions that were not answered by trustees.  Ms. Whitt asked about what was going on that our equipment was not up to code or up to certification and whose responsibility was that.  Thelma stated it was the fire chief's responsibility by their own policies and procedures.  Thelma stated she was here when Falls Twp FD walked in down here and this equipment was abominable.  It was filthy, the trucks wouldn't pump water, trash piled in the jump seats in the trucks, couldn't get passengers in the back seats safely.  Equipment was thrown everywhere.  The boxes on the trucks, that have set lists of fire equipment, were not there.  Fire hoses were not long enough to be able to siphon water from ponds/creeks.  That one of the trucks pumps was so badly damaged that it back siphoned and blew the gauges.  We actually had fire trucks that couldn't provide our homes with safe fire coverage, they would not have pumped the water. Thelma also informed that she had sat in on work meetings that were set up with the Fire Chief, Ass't Fire Chief and trustees to get policies and procedures and things together so that we could make a better fire department.  After ten minutes, the Chief walked out of the meeting without resolving any of the issues.  Fusner stated that the Chief refused to sign the policies and procedures manual and wouldn't have his members sign. 


Forest Mendenhall stated that he has read past minutes from our website.  What he said he saw this Chief do was nothing short of mal-mis and non feasance.  He wants to know why the trustees have not gone to the prosecutor and requested formal criminal charges for some of the activity done by this ex-fire chief.  Why are his tax dollars being spent on attorneys because of this on-going issue?  When are the trustees going to perform their duties, spend our tax dollars on roads, bridges, fire, things that are necessary.  Not on these out-of-town attorneys. 


Don Clark stated that he was here when our fire department left and Falls Township was here.  That there were empty fire extinguishers in the trucks, looked like a pig-pen in the cabs, wrecked new trucks.  Many timesthe trustees asked who backed the fire truck into the garage door and never got an answer.  Never got fuel receipts they asked for and where is our $20,000 that the Chief ran away with, that previous fire fighters had collected.  He wanted to know where that money is at. 


Thelma Cohagen said that she had spoke with legal representative in regards to the violent actions against Mr. Benson and Mr. Lowe, since they were the two primary officers, and was told that township trustees according to Ohio Revised Code and legal advisement could not file, but that a committee of citizens within the township could do that.  And the money that Mr. Clark was talking about goes back to the same thing.  The money that was taken in through their private checking account can only be addressed through firefighters who were members of that fire dept club. That they can file an action through the prosecutor to get their share of that money, because it's legally theirs, because they weren't incorporated, and they didn't have an article of corporation.


Mr. Menhenhall said there is another agency, that if you marry any public money to private, the I.R.S. can be contacted.  He would like an end put to all this and move on to something positive and stop spending money on these attorney's.


Jerry Miller wanted it noted in regards to the petition that was just recently filed; he received a response from Pierce Manufacturing that states: "Please note that our records show that Pierce Manufacturing sent check #117132 to the Ohio S.P.S. in the amount of $2227.50.  This fee represents .75 percent of the contract price for unit #20682 which was purchased by Muskingum Township Fire Department.  And this letter was from a Senior sales manager, Pierce Manufacturing.  So the truck that we did purchase was under state purchasing program.  Maniaci verified that we did purchase the truck properly.  The other thing mentioned in that petition that Miller wanted to clear up is that one question in their deposition taken from the first case asked, "did we seek the prosecuting attorney for any legal advice?".  And we answered it "no, we did not".  But we did, as we always have, hired an attorney, Shaffer and Peck, as we do when we purchase equipment and must borrow money, used this same legal firm.  We did seek legal council; it just wasn't with the prosecuting attorney.  Maniaci stated that the O.R.C. states you can use the Prosecuting attorney or private council.  So they were well within their means by doing this.  He further stated that they were never asked in their depositions did you get legal council, which they did.  Miller stated if this information would've been asked for before filing a petition it could've been provided to them, but no one ever asked.


Donnie Clark wanted it known that all this isn't just about the fire department.  It's about the roads and it's about other things.  He's been in this township for 18 years and he stated we have some very good roads in this township.  And that these trustees do good things.


Thelma Cohagen spoke about the statement that she sent with her husband at the last meeting.  She said this is the statement that she really wanted read and she wants this on record:  It reads:


"I wish to make the following statement regarding the continual up heaval within this township. 


It is time that the few people who insist on continually causing strife to stop.  You have cost this township many hours of wasted time and tax monies for not.  You continue to push issues that are now moot.  A second suit has been filed for the same issues that are still in the court system of which part of them have been dismissed by the seated judge from outside this county which includes the fire truck issue.  Part of these issues have already been dismissed and the fire truck issue was dismissed.  Why do you insist on doing the same thing over and over again.


Now, I am going to get pointed, sorry if I hurt somebody's feelings.  No, I'm not.  I take that back.  Mrs. Sellars this is directed directly to you;  You've allowed yourself to be used by a couple of people to carry out a vendetta against this township's trustees and have continued to attempt to cause trouble.  What you're telling people is not the truth.  For whatever reason, you refuse to look at the current situation and see the truth.  You're again costing this township money that could be better used elsewhere.  The trustees aren't causing this expense, you are.  This township has been operating in the same manner for 70 years and did need to be brought up to date.  However, once those trifling things were identified, it was time to move on.  Therefore you have accomplished something in that.  The processes within the township have been addressed, updated and otherwise correct.  There has been no preponderance of mal, mis or any other feasance; get over it.  Stop costing me and the other tax payers in this township money for legal fees that could be better spent in a better way.  You have excellent fire coverage and a "squad" that is manned by trained and experience personnel.  What more do you want? 


In any position that I have ever been blessed to have throughout my career, it has been the conviction that if you identified a problem, you needed to have some suggestions for addressing that problem and not to become a part of the problem.  At this point Mrs. Sellars, you are now the problem.  I am asking you to stop this stupidity and this vendetta.  The only thing that you are accomplishing now is to make everyone lock their doors when they see you coming.  You certainly could put that energy to a much better use.  We need to be addressing some of the other things within this township that needs to be done.  We need recreation areas for our kids.  A ball field would be great.  A park for all of us to use.  Those things can't be accomplished when people like you are continually tearing things down, then start building them up.  I invite you to put that energy to work to build this township, not to tear it down.  Thank you."


Tom Huey wanted the trustees to know the reason he came to the meeting, was because he had been hearing different things from different people about our fire coverage and equipment.  He felt this meeting was very beneficial and informative.


Jerry Miller wants it noted that he received an email back from Matt Russell at the county engineer's office that Mr. Russell did receive our Inventory list which was submitted on January 3, 2011.


Thelma Cohagen wanted a message relayed to the townships two faithful employees that she appreciates the work that they have done through this bad weather.  Jones Road has been kept open so that they could get in and out. 


Mike Maniaci said he received a phone call from a gentleman in Kenlo Woods wanting to know why our road crew guy beeps his horn when he comes around the corner when he's plowing snow.  He informed the man that there is someone parking their car in the street and he is trying to get that person to come out and move his vehicle.  For safety reasons, we are asking residents not to park their vehicles along the road.


Lester Vandenbark would like for the township to open the abandoned road from his property line to Rock Cut Road.  He spoke with the County Engineer about whether or not it had been legally closed or not.  Because if it was not legally closed it is still a township road.  As of yet, they have found nothing that shows that it was legally closed.  Vandenbark stated that the proper procedures were not taken to close this road.  Maniaci advised Mr. Vandenbark that the township cannot build or open roads and he will stop by Mr. Vandenbark's residence and show him the proof that the road was legally closed.  Maniaci asked for documentation from Mr. Vandenbark that the road was open. Maniaci also advised that the O.R.C. states that there doesn't have to be petitions or meetings to close roads.  They can close a road anytime they want. 


Miller moved to adjourn.  Seconded by Maniaci.  All ayed.






                          JERRI A NEWELL, FISCAL OFFICER