By: Timothy Kays
Meeting via teleconference on the evening of April 13, the Montpelier Village Council unanimously opted into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Williams County law enforcement agencies for COVID-19 State of Emergency protocols.
The MOU describes and outlines procedures for requesting law enforcement assistance to other jurisdictions during the State of Emergency, including the police departments of Blakeslee, Bryan, Edgerton, Edon, Montpelier, Pioneer, Stryker and West Unity, the Williams County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Williams County Central Communications Agency.
The aid rendered under the MOU shall be considered covered by the Ohio Revised Code §5502.29 and/or §737.041, as approved by legislative authority.
“We have Resolution 1278,” said Village Manager Jason Rockey in introducing the MOU. “This is a resolution regarding Williams County’s law enforcement agencies, and their willingness to help one another during this time of crisis. As you know, we have a number of communities that have very few full-time officers.”
“If one of them were to become sick, it would not be difficult for an illness to wipe out the whole department. So all those agencies in Williams County have been working together to come up with this MOU, and it would give basically, mutual aid response from one agency to another.”
The MOU states that on March 9, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed Executive Order 2020-01D, declaring a State of Emergency regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The virus is known to affect those who come into contact at differing times, and may cause infected persons to carry and affect other persons.
It further known that when symptoms related to COVID-19 are observed, that it is recommended for self-quarantine for periods up to, and beyond 14 days. During a State of Emergency, law enforcement are essential responders who come into contact with people who may or may not be infected by this virus.
Therefore, having contact with an infected person may cause a law enforcement officer to carry the virus, become sick and/or infect other officers of their respective agencies. Infection of an agency may decimate that agency’s ability to reasonably respond to their community for emergency calls.
There are ten guideline points to the MOU. Should a department become infected with the COVID-19 and be required to quarantine to levels that the agency cannot staff their jurisdiction, then:
- The agency head of the affected agency shall notify all other law enforcement agencies on this MOU, as soon as practical, that their agency is quarantined and unable to respond to emergency calls for service.
- The agency head of the affected agency may request a specific law enforcement agency to respond to emergency calls, or may simply request the closest law enforcement agency to respond.
- During the timeframe of this MOU response, the responding agency shall respond only to emergency calls for service.
- The responding agency will respond and fully handle any emergency call, and shall operate within the guidelines of their own policy and procedures, as well as the Ohio Revised Code or related municipal ordinances.
- Each agency shall be responsible for their own costs of operating, to include (but not limited to) fuel, wages, workers compensation, insurance, uniform, and other-related.
- As soon as practical, the responding agency shall forward any report to the requesting agency for knowledge or follow up.
- The responding agency shall maintain, per law, any evidence obtained during an emergency response.
- The responding agency should maintain normal communications to the requesting agency head (or their designee), as well as to the respective prosecutor’s office.
- Personnel rendering assistance under this MOU remain employees or agents of their respective political subdivisions, including for purposes of tort liability and immunity from tort liability, and nothing in this section or any mutual assistance or aid agreement entered into pursuant to this section creates an employment relationship between the political subdivision requesting aid and the employees or agents of the political subdivision rendering aid.
- All pension, disability, death benefits, workers’ compensation, and other benefits enjoyed by personnel rendering mutual assistance or aid shall extend to the services they perform outside their respective political subdivisions to the same extent as while acting within the boundaries of the political subdivisions, and personnel are entitled to the rights and benefits of Chapter 4123, to the same extent as while performing service within the boundaries of the political subdivisions.
The MOU will remain in effect until Governor DeWine rescinds the State of Emergency order.
Council moved to approve the sale of the Montpelier Fire Department’s old self-contained breathing apparatus filling station to the Brady Township Fire Department for the amount of $500.00. The measure was originally on the March 23 meeting agenda, but was pulled.
“Since then,” Mr. Rockey said, “Brady Township has met, and they requested from Chief Fritsch for the price to go down a little bit on that piece of equipment. It’s a piece of equipment that we no longer use, and there are some repairs that are going to be necessary to that; they’re going to have to put a little bit of money into it.”
“As you can imagine, much of our time up here has been consumed with virus response matters,” Mr. Rockey said in his report to Council. “We do have a few projects that do continue to move forward, however the pace of that progress has been slowed. I wanted to update you on the County Road 13 connector that will connect Main Street to the NORTA (Northwestern Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association) trail.”
“It’s moving slowly, but we’re in kind of a paperwork exchange mode. We don’t have a projected starting construction date or anything like that. What we are doing now is, there are a number of letters that were requested from different agencies in order that they would sign off to make sure that that this trail wouldn’t have impact to the wildlife or the water. The Army Corps of Engineers had to sign off.”
“There are a number of those things. I’ve reached out to several agencies. I’ve gotten two letters back, and I’m waiting for two more…one from the Ohio EPA, and one from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. I think once I have those letters, that would finalize the grant process and we’d be able to move toward a construction date. So that’s where that one stands right now.”
“I’ve sent emails I’ve received email responses back from both those agencies, and they say it’ll just take time to get back to us. (Village Law Director) Mr. (Chris) Walker has been working on closing on the downtown building for the Trailhead Park.”
“That property is closed,” said Mr. Walker. “The F&M property is closed. The Earl property…I met with Mark Earl on Saturday and got those documents. He had a tenant who is still in that property, and asked him to contact me today to verify that tenant was out.”
“He actually just texted me…about a half hour ago and said the tenant was out, so I will get that those documents recorded tomorrow. And then that leaves the Chamber. They were circulating their documents to try to get all the appropriate signatures.”
“As soon as we get those documents back from them, I’ll have that one done too. I would hope any day now I’ll have those documents back from them, and then we can move forward.”
“We have to have the buildings inspected for hazardous material,” Mr. Rockey continued. “Demolition companies typically do not do hazmat abatement. So that has to be done separately, or at least the first thing would be to have an inspection done to see if there are any hazardous materials, and then after that we can move forward with demolition.”
Councilor Melissa Ewers inquired about the status of the splash pad project that was originally green-lighted back in August 2019. “Sandy (Gordon) just sent me an email,” Mr. Rockey answered.
“She reached out to the company. The manufacture of our splash pad has been delayed. Down in Texas, they’re considered a non-essential manufacturer, and so there will be delays. However, the contractor that’s in charge of that project still feels it could be in by Bean Days.”
“Obviously, we have no idea how long the delays are going to happen, but if you remember, we entered into a contract back in January for this project. So again, just like the projects that we’re committed to, the state is committed to giving us money, we’re committed to giving them money through that contract. So our equipment was ordered back in January, and it’s in the manufacturing process right now, but that has since been paused here recently.”
Prior to adjournment, Council retired into executive session to discuss personnel/employment of a public employee. No action was undertaken pursuant to the executive session.
Timothy can be reached at email@example.com
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