Covington’s newest officer sworn-in


COVINGTON — The village of Covington added a new officer to their police force this week. Ben Marialke was sworn-in by Mayor Ed McCord at the Village Council meeting Monday evening.

“We are looking forward to him being here and being part of our team, and we have a pretty positive outlook for him,” said Police Chief Lee Harmon.

Harmon also announced Officer Russell McNeil will be appointed as the new school resource officer for the district.

Covington resident Terry Garman addressed the council regarding trash and recycling trucks that use the alley and right-of-way between Thompson Street and the Covington Post Office as a pickup location for some High Street residents. Garman stated the trucks must back into the Post Office driveway to access the alley, which he says has sustained a considerable amount of damage due to the trucks using it for trash and recycling pickup. He asked that the village consider requiring pickup on High Street rather than utilizing the alley. Village Administrator Kyle Hinkelman advised that he will look into the concern and follow up with Garman.

Hinkelman shared that over the recent holiday weekend, he received a letter of resignation from Nick Church, who has vacated his seat on the Planning and Zoning Committee as of June 30. The council voted to accept the letter of resignation.

In other updates, work continues on the future site of Schoolhouse Park. Hinkelman stated the contractors are “rolling through the process” and will soon begin closing roads permanently and tearing up certain areas of land for the park. The village is hopeful this portion of the project will be complete by mid-August, although the contractors have until November to do the work. Construction on the village’s wastewater treatment plant is underway, as concrete foundations were poured last week.

Hinkelman took a moment to address the State Operating Budget substitution House Bill 33, which was passed by both the house and senate, and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine to go into effect on July 13. Certain provisions of the bill will affect the village, one of which is notification requirements. The village was previously required to publish notifications in the village newspaper, which came at a substantial cost. Now that the village no longer has its own newspaper, and the state operating budget has changed, the village is only required to post notifications on its website. This will save the village $3,000 a year. The state has placed funding into different pots, including approximately $500 million into demolition and brownfield remediation, which is where the village previously received funds towards the demolition of the Rudy property. Other state specific funds the village could qualify for in future projects include a pot of $750 million, $700 million, and $500 towards infrastructure. The bill also increases competitive bidding thresholds from $50,000 to $75,000 and added an additional $12 million into the local government fund , from which the village receives a minimal amount of funding. In terms of taxation, under the new bill anyone under 18 years of age is exempt from municipal income tax. It also has some very clear limitations on municipal income tax fees, waiver fees and limits on fees.

The council addressed a question raised by several residents about whether or not the village will put up American flags along High Street. “We are in the process of purchasing flags for the flag poles. For years, it’s my understanding that a private third party did flags in the village. It was not the village itself. And I don’t believe those people are doing flags any longer. So, in terms of the village doing flags, we’ve never done flags, but we are intending to start that process,” said Hinkelman, “We’re trying to assure that it’s the right size. It’s the right number that we have everything correct…so we’re working towards that and we’re going to have flags. But in terms of people’s frustration with the village not having them on [the] Fourth of July, I understand, we’re working towards having them. There was never any idea that we wouldn’t have them, we just don’t have them yet.” Any volunteers who would like to assist with installing the flags should contact the village administrator via phone or email.

A second reading was held for an ordinance intending to levy a new 3.00 mill fire levy. The council voted to waive the three-reading rule and approved the ordinance. A resolution authorizing the village administrator to enter into an agreement with AES Ohio was removed from the table for further discussion. This resolution addresses a stipulation of the $500,000 land and water conservation fund grant the village has received, which does not allow any above-ground utilities within the boundaries of Schoolhouse Park. The village’s application for the grant means that three transmission poles must be moved to the alley behind Grant Street, between Ludlow Street and Grant Street. This move will affect many residents in the area. The village is obligated to work with AES on this project, and over the past nine months has negotiated the cost of the move and redesign from $420,000 to $294,737.91. Once the village agrees to let AES start the project, there is no promised timeline for completion. A first reading will be held at the next council meeting on Monday, July 17.

The council went into executive session and the meeting was adjourned.

The writer is regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.

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