Kelleys Island News
By Leslie Korenko
It’s April and signs of spring are everywhere. The Island is waking up. Looking back, about 40 people attended the (no) ice party at the West Bay Inn. The second round of Covid shots was administered on the Island and a few additional one-shot doses were also available. At least one bar has opened by now with more to come. The ferry made its first run on March 15th, and just a few days later had to shut down because of high winds. Our library is open again, after being closed for most of 2020. We are getting close to normal.
Resort Tax – The Village received $152,063 in Resort Taxes, based on taxable sales of $10,137,533 from our Island businesses. Surprisingly, this was just 6% less than 2019 receipts. Not bad considering the limitations we faced as a result of COVID.
American Rescue Plan announcements include a $60,000 grant for the Village under the Covid-19 response package. No announcement yet on how this money will be utilized.
Council met after a two month hiatus with attendance both in person and online. Still so many problems with hearing everyone. There are microphones, but they are rarely aimed at the speakers and they don’t seem to broadcast over the speaker system. Oh well, hopefully we will be back to in-person meetings without masks (which muffles the speaker’s voices). As expected, not much happened over the winter. The Mayor made committee assignments with quite a few changes. He also appointed Scott Stevenson to the vacant council seat, continuing the 3-3 split on controversial votes when the Mayor breaks the tie. EMS reports that they will be getting some new equipment and will begin classes with Metro Health. From the Water Dept., Tom Lange has received his Class 3 license. Water bills have gone out, but if you have auto pay, you don’t get a copy which is tough if you are trying to do taxes on a rental house. The Board of Zoning Appeals will be hearing an appeal to a variance request. The Village is still wrestling with what to do with the Golias house. The Village Clerk is encouraging Council persons to receive their packages and correspondence via email. Frontier is still working on internet upgrades. The Police Dept. reports 3,936 winter house/business checks. There were 5 vehicle lockouts, 3 reports, 401 phone calls and one accident during the winter.
Things got interesting during the legislation section of the meeting. One ordinance, introduced by the Mayor and up for a first reading proposed an amendment to section 34.01 “Chief of Police compensation and duties.” The legislation apparently contains sweeping changes to how the Police chief manager the department and increases the Mayor’s oversight of the Chief. Longbrake and Ritchie might have been the only ones to actually read the legislation as they made several pertinent comments. In one area it was proposed that all potential felonies or “serious” violations by given to the Mayor for review. Outside sources cautioned that this policy could open the Village up to charges of ticket fixing. Another section increased the Chief’s hours by 192 hours with no additional compensation. Currently the Chief is part-time and has another part-time job which would be impacted. There was another ordinance updating the personnel policy manual, which would increase the Mayor’s “hands on” control of personnel and if a disciplinary action is taken, there is no appeal process. Both Councilmen will make recommendations to the village solicitor and request amendment of the two ordinances.
An ordinance increasing the water rates by 3% came under fire. This has been on the agenda for a first and second reading in 2020 with no comments. However, when the time came for a vote, Seeholzer complained that it was too much of an increase, citing the difficulty of some senior residents to keep up with their bills. It was noted that this increase, which was originally 3% spread over a couple of years, was repeatedly put off. The increase is necessary for anticipated projects such as Huntington Lane waterline replacement, new waterline around Seaway Marina, the tower which will need replacing in 15-20 years and the safety of the residents. When the motion came to a vote, it was 3-3 with the Mayor voting the legislation down. Then things got a little weird. Seeholzer kept saying that a 1.5% increase would be more reasonable, then moved to change the defeated legislation from 3% to 1.5%. Since the legislation was already voted down, she moved to have new legislation prepared. There was a lot of talking, but apparently, that new legislation request never moved forward. It is difficult to determine what happened as everyone was talking and it was so difficult to hear anyone distinctly.
The VFW wants to put a flag walk from the marina through downtown and down Division St., placing flags and holders on utility poles. In the Mayor’s State of the Village report, he indicated that the Village was in Good Shape. He thanked Russ Maust for doing a tremendous job working with Metro Health for a smooth transition.
Middle Bass Island News
Help Make Some Middle Bass History!
It’s a new year and soon the ferries are running and the good life on MBI is resuming. The Middle Bass Historical Museum auction committee has met via zoom and they are cautiously proceeding with their big fundraiser on July 24th.
They stand behind the mission statement of the future museum “to acquire, document, protect, preserve and exhibit the island’s artifacts and cultural history which reflect the story of Middle Bass Island for residents, visitors and generations to come.”
Their goal, once again, is to move the old Aunt Irma’s building to the Middle Bass Town Hall property. The museum will be under the auspices of the Town Hall as a non-profit organization. To accomplish this move and all that is involved with it they need to raise funds to make this happen.
The live auction and refreshments will be held in tents outside the Town Hall and the silent auction will take place in the main room of the Town Hall.
So many of you have reached out to Mary Roesch and her helpers with enthusiasm and a willingness to donate and volunteer your help. It is not too late to join in if you haven’t yet. They will be posting frequently to keep you informed as we proceed forward.
Pelee Island News
The Township of Pelee Island has put in applications for an ICON (Improving Connectivity for Ontario) program, a grant that supports funding in rural areas. The Township also has submitted a Federal Fund application. These grants, if approved, will hopefully help support in installing a fiber optic line, which will supply Pelee Island homes and businesses with high-speed internet.
The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. To subscribe please visit the Put-in-Bay Gazette subscription form.
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