Rail safety tops council agenda

John Schupp sought Tiffin City Council’s support in asking CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern to fund an early warning system for train derailments in Tiffin at the meeting Monday.

Schupp said that in Graniteville, S.C., many residents did not know how to properly escape a chlorine leak and died Jan. 10, 2005, due to lack of education and warning.

He also said the National Weather Service band radio system was activated 3 hours and 20 minutes after the leak began.

The destruction created from the chlorine leak contributed to nine deaths and an 8.12 percent loss of population in Graniteville.

He said derailments have occurred in Tiffin and could especially affect Tiffin University and Heidelberg University due to their proximity to the railroad.

Schupp said Norfolk Southern is to expand its Bellevue Yard, adding more traffic through Tiffin and increasing the amount of nuclear waste, natural gas and items such as chlorine gas transported through the city.

Schupp said he wanted council’s approval to meet with CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern to discuss funding an instant warning system in Tiffin.

He said the system would include a public announcement system on which the city, Emergency Management Agency and other organizations would be authorized to broadcast verbal directions to residents. The system also would include automatic sensors that would trigger a warning system if chlorine or natural gas leaked.

Schupp said the system would cost $159,000.

“Since Norfolk Southern has a $160 million invested in their expansion, this is one-tenth of 1 percent of that,” he said. “I think they can afford it.”

Joyce Hall-Yates said that from a legal standpoint, Norfolk Southern may negotiate to pay for the system since it is the firm that is expanding.

According to law, every railroad must accept to transport any product for a fee, she said. Under the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the Secretary of Homeland Security is required to develop and conduct security exercises for railroads to assess and approve capabilities to prevent, prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism.

“Even though this act targets railroads to plan and implement provisions for acts of terrorism, when you look at the acts of terrorism, the same conditions would apply in any accident,” she said. “Therefore, the railroads must be doing this at this point in time.”

She also said if a derailment occurred, due to the diversity of students at Tiffin University and Heidelberg University, the situation could affect individuals worldwide.

Council President Paul Elchert suggested speaking with Fire Chief Bill Ennis about the situation.

The resolution was referred to the Law and Community Planning committee.

Representing the Ohio State Bar Association, Victor Perez spoke in favor of a resolution authorizing the honorary naming of Court Street between Washington and Jefferson streets as N. and F. Cronise Way.

Perez said there would be several events Oct. 23 to honor Nettie and Florence Cronise, the first and second woman lawyers to practice in Ohio, respectively. After being admitted to the bar in 1873, the women opened up a practice together in Tiffin and became well respected lawyers, Perez said.

Ohio State Bar Association annually bestows an award in honor of Nettie Cronise Lutes.

Oct. 23, Heidelberg University is to hold a lunch sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Initiative and is to hold a special program on the sisters at 2 p.m. at Beeghly Library. At 3:30 p.m., there is to be a dedication of a historic marker on Courthouse Square to recognize the sisters.

The street sign was purchased through grant funding from the state, donations from the Barnes-Deinzer Seneca County Museum Foundation and contributions from the Ohio State Bar Association.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is to be in attendance.

The street will remain Court Street, but a sign will be hung underneath the street sign honoring the Cronise sisters.

Since the resolution was in honor of the sisters, the three reading rule was not required. Council passed the resolution 7-0.

In other business, Mayor Aaron Montz said the YMCA cut the city’s expenses by just more than half for running the pool this year. He said both parties were interested in extending the agreement into next year.

He said the Architectural Board of Review met to cast another vote on its previous decision to attempt to sell the building behind the Stalsworth Hotel, not to raze it. He said the vote remained the same.

He also said environmental reviews are to be completed on the Stalsworth Hotel, the building behind the hotel and the Salvation Army building, because the city still has Community Development Block Grant funding to tear down the Salvation Army building next year.

In other news from Montz:

There is to be a ribbon-cutting for Taylor Elchert Photography, 113 Melmore St., at 4 p.m. Friday.

The last Farmer’s Market 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

City offices are to be closed Monday for Columbus Day.

The annual Tiffin Developmental Center Halloween Parade is at 2 p.m. Oct. 20.

Trick-or-treat is 5-7 p.m. Oct. 27.

Montz also thanked Lisa and Leonard Simmons Jr. for their donation to the Park and Recreation Department.

Finance Director Gwynn Reinhart said in her report the General Fund unencumbered balance as of Sept. 30 was $2,276,393.70. Municipal income tax receipts are up 7.4 percent from September 2012.

The unexpended balance for all funds $13,444,082.61.

In written communication, Montz and Ennis requested to use extra funding and grant money from the Firefighters Grant for Self Contained Breathing Apparatus to replace the breathing compressor this year. The request was moved to the Materials and Equipment committee.

Reinhart asked that an insurance claim check totaling $2,299.28 for storm damage to flooring at the police station be appropriated into the budget for building maintenance for carpet replacement. The request was moved to the Finance committee.

Law Director Brent Howard requested council accept proposed changes to the 2013 Codified Ordinances. The request was moved to the Law and Community Planning committee.

Council also discussed the airing of meetings online instead of on television beginning next month. The Utilities and Related Services committee is to look further into the matter.

In other business, council approved 7-0:

An ordinance amending Budget Ordinance 12-73 to transfer $40,000 from the Indigent Drivers Alcohol Treatment Fund to the Municipal Court Probation Services Fund with a suspension.

An ordinance amending Section 191.03(a)(6)B of Tiffin Codified Ordinances regarding the imposition of income tax on prizes, awards and income derived from gaming, wagering, lotteries or schemes of chance by nonresidents, and enacting Section 191.03(a)(6)C. requiring the reportings of winnings.

An ordinance amending budget ordinance 12-73 to appropriate funds for collection fees for 2012 real estate taxes charged by the county.

An ordinance amending budget ordinance 12-73 for indigent burials and engineer’s office personnel, computers and vehicle repairs with a suspension.