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ST. MARYS — A Japanese resident who played a large role in a cultural exchange with the city of St. Marys received honorary citizenship Monday night.
St. Marys Mayor Patrick McGowan bestowed honorary citizenship to Junko Tagawa during Monday night’s St. Marys City Council meeting. Tagawa has assisted with the sister city program with Awaji City in a variety of capacities since living in St. Marys.
“During your seven years in St. Marys, you have promoted international friendship and understanding by assisting delegations from our sister city as well as helping local Japanese families settle into St. Marys and when they return to Japan,” McGowan said.
“You have assisted the community in sharing Japanese culture, you have helped build a stronger bridge of friendship between Japan and the United States. As ambassador, you are hereby authorized to tell the story of our special relationship to the citizens of Japan.”
During her time in St. Marys, Tagawa taught Japanese culture in local elementary schools as well as served as a translator for delegations from Awaji City.
Tagawa also helped with the preparation for the 25th anniversary celebration last year by singing the Japanese national anthem and acting as an interpreter for the adult delegation during their visit to St. Marys.
“I want to say thank you,” Tagawa said. “I wanted to help our friends and it’s an honor to have this. I will go back to Japan at the end of the month but I will still continue to help St. Marys and Japan.”
Tagawa was joined at the meeting by her husband, Koshi and her children, Huey, Ricky and Anna.
Councilors approved the first reading of an ordinance regarding the payment of costs associated with a defunct AMP Ohio power plant in Meigs County. The legislation provides councilors with a 15-year payment plan.
However, the debt could be paid off sooner if councilors opt to go that route. The city owes approximately $2.66 million for its share in the failed plant.
The city could be in line for a grant to help widen a busy intersection. Councilors approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency resolution authorizing Interim Safety-Service Director Craig Moeller to apply for an Ohio Department of Transportation Small City Project grant.
If awarded, the grant would cover 80 percent of the $200,000 estimate to widen the intersection of McKinley Road and Spruce Street.
“We are looking at a small city grant through ODOT to widen that intersection to make it a lot safer for trucks to turn at that intersection,” Moeller said, noting semis often have trouble negotiating the turn. “The grant application is due March 1.”
In other business, councilors:
• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency resolution authorizing the payment of assessments to the Auglaize County EMA. Moeller said the payment is for 70 cents per resident in the city. The fees help cover operational expenses.
• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency resolution authorizing Moeller to enter into an agreement with HP Enterprise Services, LLC, to operate a credit card payment system for city utility bills. Moeller said the company will charge residents who wish to pay via credit card a 2 percent fee.
• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency resolution creating the position of temporary resident project representative at a rate of $25 per hour. The position, to be filled by Stan Davis, is related to the southwest pump state project.
• Set a street and sidewalk committee meeting for 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
Councilors entered executive session to discuss a public official. When councilors reconvened in regular session, no action was taken.
The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at the city building located along East Spring Street.