PERRY TWP. - Trustees said they want to check the legalities before giving township firefighters the go-ahead to start doing fire safety inspections on businesses in their jurisdiction.
"I think before we do anything, this should go to our legal counsel," Trustee Chairman Cliff Mix said. "I don't think we can jump into that."
Perry Township Firefighter Tony Constantino approached trustees with the idea, explaining the department has three firefighters certified as inspectors, but there's nothing formally set up for them to actually do inspections at commercial establishments.
He said the township would need a resolution in place so the department could do fire inspections and code enforcement.
Mix asked what the cost would be and Constantino said it would cost nothing to set up, but when a new fire code or building code comes out every five to seven years, the township would need to purchase a copy. There would also be miscellaneous training costs for the inspectors.
"What kind of liability is this going to put on the township?" Mix asked.
Constantino said there would be less liability than if they didn't do inspections on businesses and there was a fire. He said they would inspect places like the Salem Golf Club or Circle K South and other businesses
When asked by Trustee Don Rudibaugh who does the inspections now, he said no one except in the case of nursing home facilities, which have to be inspected once a year by the State Fire Marshal's Office.
In another fire department matter, Assistant Chief Phil Panezott asked Rudibaugh if he received a request for new pagers for the fire department, saying the old pagers won't work with the new bandwidth, which is narrower. He said they're still toned out by the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office, which handles dispatching for the township, but then they have to go by their radios because the pagers aren't compatible.
At least three department pagers are compatible, but they would need 21 new pagers. Mix questioned the need since the current system of using the radios after getting toned out seems to be working. Panezott was representing Chief Bruce Whitcher who could not attend the meeting. He didn't have a cost estimate, so Rudibaugh asked to have the chief contact him with the cost.
Panezott said the new radio tower seems to be working, with radio reception better in areas where they were having problems. He said there's still some fine tuning and tweaking to do.
In police business, the trustees approved a $2,000 contract with Creative Microsystems Inc. of Englewood, Ohio at the request of Police Chief Mike Emigh to give the department the ability to continue running license plates and get information on warrants and wanted people through their laptop computers and a station in the office.
Emigh explained that the department had been receiving the access service for free the past two years through grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security, but funding was cut off for 2013, requiring the township to now pick up the tab.
He said he would have preferred they continue to contract with the company the department uses now, Armada iLincs, but the county Sheriff's Office is switching to CMI. They wouldn't be able to communicate through the laptops with the Sheriff's Office without the same provider.
The contract with CMI covers all their computers and tech support for one year.
Emigh said in the two years under the free program, they were able to run more than 115,000 license plates. He said for what they get out of the service, it's worth the $2,000. The new contact begins Jan. 1, with the old one expiring Dec. 31, so they won't lose service.
The trustees also approved moving Patrolman Channing Hank and Patrolman Joshua Hall from training status to probationary status, pending completion of a written test.
In other business, Trustee Don Kendrick, who also serves as the township zoning officer, promised to check on a property to see what's going on there after a resident asked some questions about zoning.
Barb Fink, who lives on Beechwood Road, specifically was asking whether there was any commercial zoning in the area of Beechwood and Goshen Road, saying one house had about 14 vehicles there and it looked like there was a business being operated there.
Both Kendrick and Mix said the first 300 feet of frontage is residential, then the rest is agricultural on both streets. Emigh commented that he also had reason to believe a business was being operated there and that the resident had been working on cars when he lived on another road in the township.
In preparing for the new year, the board approved temporary appropriations of $258,500 to cover the first three months of 2013 and reappointed Doug Sampson to the Zoning Board and Ron Poage to the Board of Zoning Appeals, both for five-year terms.
The trustees will not meet again until they reorganize at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7. They decided to cancel their second meeting of the month since it would fall on Christmas Eve.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org