January is a good time for housekeeping and planning, and the Oblong Village Board did a little of both Wednesday night.
Along the order of housekeeping, the board approved an ordinance change that would include electronic smoking devices ("vaping") along with cigarettes when it comes to where they can be used. They are no longer allowed within 10 feet of seating areas, and basically must follow the same regulation as cigarette smoke. In addition, local police can now write rule-breakers a citation.
The ad hoc and development committees will also be discussing and reviewing ordinances on mobile and modular homes. It was pointed out that while modular homes are designed to be placed in a permanent setting, they are still mobile. Current ordinances state no mobile homes over 10 years of age may be moved into the village and modular homes fall under that category. It was suggested that a used modular home could be placed on an empty village lot, providing quality housing at a reduced cost of new construction.
The committees will be discussing ways to inspect the homes and address other concerns before making any recommended changes.
The Ad Hoc committee will also be meeting to discuss nuisance properties and working with owners in preparation for spring clean up.
Annually, at the first of the year the board must approve the village's investment policy and contracts. The board also approved the annual Westmore Equity payment in the amount of $22,820.22.
The passage of an ordinance regarding solicitors is being reviewed by the village attorney. Suggestions from the attorney include signage about the law and a waiting period to allow time for background checks. The idea would not be intended to deter legitimate solicitors, but would help to keep out "predator solicitors" who come into towns after business hours, going door to door.
Trustee Bill Burke took off his government hat and picked up his auctioneer gavel to present the board information about possible municipal auction services. With the understanding that most local government agencies or municipalities have excess property, seized property or equipment, abandoned items and used vehicles and equipment they would like to dispose of but do not have the quantity for a full auction, Burke is suggesting a combined annual government auction and or online auctions for large individual items.
Burke further explained that the auction would run as a standard percentage auction with the municipality incurring no up front costs. He also noted how a municipality could see a greater return on an online sale of a big piece of equipment like a backhoe, than through simple trade-in or sealed bid sale.
Burke said he would be presenting the idea to other government agencies over the next couple of months, with a possible sale date sometime in May or June.
Mayor Teresa Fielder recognized Oblong High School student organizations for their help in decorating and undecorating the city park. "Without them we could not get it all done," Fielder said.
It was also noted that electric service is out along part of the walking path near the dam at the park. Crews will be working on the problem, but it may take some time.
In his annual report, Police Chief Chad Pusey noted that his department issued 137 traffic citations and 17 ordinance citations in 2018. The number of felonies reported was up to 64, warrant arrests 18 and there were 62 misdemeanor offences reported. The department handled 15 traffic accidents and responded to 21. Over the course of the year they had 1,128 calls for service, and assisted other agencies on 137 calls.
The village collected $9,364.92 in fines, and put just over 18,000 miles on its two squad cars.
The next scheduled meeting will be Wednesday, Feb. 6.