GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — The Gallipolis City Commission held a special meeting via digital conferencing software this week, discussing numerous topics, including water payment issues, Columbia Gas hook ups, paving projects, and policy surrounding high-speed pursuit.
Recently the state lifted the ban on shutting water supply off for no payment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gallipolis City Manager Ted Lozier talked about an increase in shut offs compared to a typical month, but noted that many issues have already been resolved.
“On a normal cycle (month) we have about 10 shut offs, this cycle we had 30,” Lozier said, attributing some of that to people being unable to pay due to COVID-19 issues. “We’re back down to the normal range of about 8-or-9.
“What we opted to do is make a payment plan option for people if they were having trouble meeting those utility bills. I’ll say it was fairly successful, we had a total of 13 folks who were delinquent on their utilities and signed up for the payment plan, and three of those have already paid their whole payment amount.”
Lozier also mentioned that of the 30 shut offs, 21 have already ended up paying on the balance.
“We’re down to about nine folks who haven’t paid, and we’re in the process of notifying them at least one more time, and if we need to, we’ll do what we call a final shut off notice,” Lozier said. “Although they should have come to us by now, I think we would still extend that grace if they wanted to put a payment plan together for us.”
Lozier also noted that Ohio Job and Family Services has a program to help with utility bills, and that contact information for that will be attached to upcoming billing statements.
On Second Avenue, Columbia Gas continues to work with property owners to keep the new hook ups from interfering with aesthetics, it was discussed.
“Columbia Gas told me it has met with about 90 percent of property owners in the downtown area regarding their service line connections,” Lozier said. “They’re going to put meters and the regulator inside the building, and vent only to the outside. Where they can they’re going to vent to the side, or to the rear, and if they have to vent out front, they’ll do it in the least obtrusive, least conspicuous place. Those vents are fairly small, so they shouldn’t be too unsightly.”
Elsewhere, Columbia Gas is working on finishing some projects before paving projects begin.
“They are working on Third Avenue between Court and Vine, putting in service lines in anticipation of our paving project on Third Avenue coming up this fall,” Lozier said. “We’ll also be paving Court, Vine and Locust Streets.”
As noted at the meeting, Columbia Gas is hoping to be done with its work on those streets by the third week of September, with paving to start in October. Bidding will begin soon for the paving project.
Another major roads project will be starting soon, according to Lozier.
“ODOT called and we were approved for emergency funding for the 588 road slip, $1.2 million, and they are going to fast track the project,” Lozier said. “We’ve asked for ODOT to step and help out with design, project management, letting the bid, etc. We’re looking at trying to spend that $1.2 million by mid-November.”
If the project isn’t completed by mid-November, expenditures after that will be an 80-20 split. Excavation is expected to be needed, with a wall along the slope.
The city commission also heard a concern from Robbie Jenkins, a resident and business owner, who spoke about a high-speed pursuit late last week that he said he partially witnessed, beginning in town and reportedly ending at the intersection of State Routes 7 and 218.
“I estimated that we had the cruisers going by at between 60-and-80 miles per hour,” Jenkins said, asking if there was a policy, either in town or out of the city limits regarding high-speed chases, stating safety concerns.
City Solicitor Brynn Noe responded to Jenkins, saying there is a policy in place, keeping Gallipolis in conjunction with the rest of Ohio.
“There is a policy,” Noe said. “It is collaborative so that we’re up to date and on par with the entire state of Ohio.”
As for the details involving the reported pursuit, Police Chief Jeff Boyer stated no charges have been filedyet, but it is currently an open investigation. Chief Boyer also noted there is a policy in place on high-speed pursuits, and he invited Jenkins to review it at a later time.
(Editor’s Note: The Tribune had previously made contact with the Gallipolis Police Department following initial reports of this alleged pursuit. Information will be reported as it becomes available.)
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.