Councilors Welcome SSD

ST. MARYS — St. Marys City Councilors officially welcomed the new safety-service director to the city.

During Monday night’s council meeting, councilors approved, under suspension of rules, a pay ordinance for Eric Ostling, of Chesterfield, Mich., as the city’s new safety-service director. Ostling will take over for Jason Little, who announced his resignation in August, effective Oct. 26.

“I’ve been looking for a government job for some time now,” Ostling told The Evening Leader regarding his new position. “I am big in community service and that seems to be the basis for everything I will be doing here. It gives me a better opportunity to serve a community. At this point, as a consultant, I serve a lot of communities. In this position, I get to serve one.”

Ostling graduated from Michigan Technological University and holds a professional engineer distinction in Michigan and Ohio. He beat out four other candidates for the position.

“This is my line of work, this is the culmination of my career,” Ostling said. “It’s going to be a learning experience from day one but I look forward to it. I love small towns, I know a lot of small towns in Michigan ... Little, quaint communities like this are beautiful. I love the city already.”

Ostling will be paid $82,000 a year in the position. He is scheduled to start on Oct. 22 —  the last week Little will serve in the position.

Councilors also approved  a motion to authorize Little to seek costs associated with a police/fire annex building.

Fire Chief Joey Weaver submitted the request to councilors based upon the fact the current safety services building has become cramped and lacks adequate space for training and storage.

“This is something, in my opinion, the city should take a look at,” Little said. “It’s pretty tight ... every inch of the building is pretty much occupied.”

Little said the structure would be built behind the current safety-services building — where three existing lots sit.

“This would really help us out as far as storage goes, as far as training goes,” Little said. “I think there would be a big benefit to us in the future. I think it’s worthwhile.”

Weaver said the building would be 70-by-100 feet. He noted a steel building would be preferred.

“Something that would fit into the environment and match the existing buildings,” Weaver said. “Nothing really elaborated, but I think we are looking at a 20-foot tall building.”

A three-story training tower would be incorporated into one corner of the building. That would allow for high-angle rescue training.

“It would be a little taller than our current building,” Weaver said. “Sidney has something similar to that. They just built a new station a couple of years ago.”

The study would allow councilors to obtain a cost estimate. Councilor-at-large Jim Harris said he supported the request for a study.

“I, for one,  this looks like it could save lives — not only to the people of St. Marys but to the firefighters,” Harris said. “Possible revenue generate in that the other fire departments could come over here and play with it.”

Little gave a rough estimate of $500,000 for the structure. A more specific cost would be known following the study.

“We’re kind of shooting at the hip on the cost right now,” Little said. “I’d like to get your approval to move forward and talk with the property owners and see what we can get the property owners for ... Right now we are guessing at what we can get this for.”

The building was last added on to in 1997. Since then, Weaver said the fire and police departments have filled up the space.

“We are maxed out,” Weaver said.

Mayor Pat McGowan said the dog park, which was built near shelterhouse No. 1 along East Bank Road, will not open until the spring because of concerns regarding the grass. McGowan said Grand Lake St. Marys Park officials want the grass in the park to be strong before opening it to the public.

During the previous council meeting, a resident questioned the policy of motorized wheelchairs on city roads. Little said he checked and anyone riding a motorized wheelchair is to be treated as a pedestrian.

“If there’s sidewalks, you have to be on the sidewalks with that machine,” Little said. “If there are no sidewalks, you can be on the road but you have to be going against the traffic.”

In other business, councilors:

• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance authorizing Little to purchase Flygt pumps without taking bids. Little said there is only one supplier of the specific type of pumps in the region.

• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance authorizing the county’s assistance in construction a pedestrian bridge over the Miami and Erie Canal connecting K.C. Geiger Park with existing soccer fields.

• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance authorizing Spectrum Engineering to conduct an electrical distribution study for the city.

• Approved the first reading of an emergency ordinance providing the city’s share of $7,500 to cover a portion of the salary and benefits of the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission Manager.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the execution of a power sales contract with AMP regarding participation in the AMP Solar Project I.

• Approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance re-establishing the position of electric system control coordinator.

• Set a finance committee meeting for 6 p.m. Oct. 15.

Councilors met in executive session to discuss upcoming union negotiations. No action with taken when councilors reconvened in regular session.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at the city building located along East Spring Street.