November 2021 Gazette - Kelleys Island News

November 2021 Gazette – Kelleys Island News

Kelleys Island News

By Leslie Korenko


Fall came in blustery and cold. We lost power for a few hours, but everyone was pretty used to it after the planned outages. There has to be about 20 homes under construction. It seems like every road has a new house going up. Two of the three Osage Orange trees near downtown have been removed. Islanders will miss trying to squash them with their cars, but not having one of the big green balls fall on their heads as they walk by! The Police Dept. reminds us to submit new HOUSE CHECK FORMS for this winter season. They are available at the Police Dept., or online at under Departments/Police Dept. Have someone staying on the Island this winter who needs routine check-ins, (elderly, health impaired, etc.)? There is a form for that too! The Mayor announced that preliminary CENSUS figures indicate that our population has dropped from 317 to 256. Seasonal bars are closing on October 31st, but some others will stay open a bit more. Some gift shops will either close or cut back their hours and the history museum is closed for the season. Every month the ferry reduces its schedule. A sure sign that winter is coming.



A Councilman calls for the Mayor’s resignation. What the heck is going on? Over the last year there has been a 2-4 split against any changes to the Police Dept. that might involve wages or operational expenses. The Mayor is a former police officer and chief, and one councilman is a former police officer and they both have opposite views on the Police issue. It is disconcerting when the need for an ordinance is presented, but then voted down with absolutely no discussion as to why. The Safety Committee has input into the Police Dept. budget and Council approves that budget each year. It is unclear why these amounts are suddenly being questioned. Budgets have to take into account increased benefit costs and inflation not to mention unplanned equipment purchases and vehicle repairs. There has been a flurry of mailings with the Mayor accusing the Police Dept. of overspending and others defending the budget. One letter accused the Mayor of creating a hostile work environment for the chief. The Mayor took some flak for skewing his comments about the levy and refusing to sign the levy support letter. At one point, Councilman Greg Ritchie sent an email to the Mayor and some other officials, requesting the Mayor step down, citing his “bias against the Police force [which] is so obvious that people openly talk about it.” While intended to be a personal correspondence, the Mayor sent it out with a letter asking for support of the General Fund and EMS levies, but claiming the Police Levy was not. It looks like this election will rest on which side of the Police Dept. you are on. There are six candidates running for four council seats: Max Eaton, Mary Gaither, Eric Longbrake, Greg Ritchie, Scot Smith and Joe Wolfe and by the time this paper comes out, the decision will have been made at the polls. Shawn said it well: “We will not agree on every issue. But let us respect those differences and respect one another. Let us recognize that we are not a dictatorship government, [n]or do we serve an ideology or a political party; we serve the people.”



We are calling it Duck Tape Gate! Apparently, someone ordered signs with a slate of three candidates on it, noting that all three paid for the signs. Mary Gaither saw the signs with her name and contacted that person, pretty upset because she is running as an independent and NOT on a slate. And, she was not asked to be included, nor did she contribute any money for the signs. So now all the signs have her name taped out. She wants to make it clear that she is running on her own merits and not as part of a predetermined slate of candidates.



The rescheduled Council meeting drew its largest audience with 18 people attending in person and another 10 via Zoom. Guest speakers included Erie Co. Sheriff Paul Sigsworth and KI officers James Bartus and Teressa Campbell (both have been voted Officers of the Year). The Sheriff spoke of his pride in working with Chief Craig and the village. He noted that he has worked out an arrangement with the Ottawa Co. Sheriff to provide backup if needed on the Island, since the travel time from Erie Co. would impact their response time. He expressed concern about the lack of back-up, particularly on a recent ‘gun call’ on the Island. Facebook posts indicated that a gun was ‘lost’ at the West Bay and people had to use their headlights to illuminate the search area. There were several pointed questions from attendees, many centering around the wages paid here and the lack of returning officers. The Sheriff’s Dept. pays $20/hour for part-time, and $24 for full-time officers. The village pays a flat $15/hour for all its officers including the Chief. It was also noted that new officers are in short supply across Ohio, that the cost of Academy training is almost $10,000 (paid by the applicant) and additional costs (around $3,200) are born by officers in purchasing uniforms and equipment. These officers give up so much to keep our community safe. OPEN BURN PERMITS are again available and must be approved before you begin burning. The septic system for the public restrooms/police housing is failing and the village is looking at options. The ERIE CO. HEALTH DEPT. has entered into an agreement to set up a permanent clinic in the Golias House next to the village office. The Mayor appointed Rick Holmes to the DESIGN REVIEW BOARD to fill the seat previously held by Patti Fresch, who recently passed away. The POLICE DEPT. reported 9 tickets (underage driver, 3-OVI, reckless op, 3-failure to control, and Driving Under Suspension (DUS). It seems that every month we snag a DUS person here. There were 15 warnings (speed, open container, underage driver, disorderly conduct and stop sign). There were three accidents – OVI and underage driver. EMS reports 19 runs and 20 clinic calls. The EMS director thanks the community for their generous support of our Safety Services, noting that many upgrades to equipment have been purchased with these funds. A carbon monoxide detection unit has been ordered after a boat incident when occupants fell ill. Russ indicated that they are receiving some high quality training each month including traumatic burn injuries and next month will be OB and labor and delivery.



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