EMA updates, Bettsville quarry among topics addressed at Jan. 11 Commissioners’ meeting
By Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator
Seneca County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director, John Spahr, provided updates on outdoor warning sirens and towers throughout the county during the Jan. 11 Seneca County Commissioners’ meeting. Spahr began by clarifying a misconception about siren ownership.
“People believe the county owns the sirens. We don’t actually fix them, and as it turns out, the county owns no sirens,” Spahr said.
The purpose of the sirens is to inform local residents who do not have immediate access to phones or other forms of communication that an emergency has occurred or is expected. The sirens announce a variety of situations, including severe weather, a hazardous material incident or a terrorist event. Most of the time, the sirens are sounded to announce a tornado emergency.
Spahr said there are 30 sirens throughout the county, many of which are aging and need replaced. In light of technological advances, sirens are becoming obsolete in metropolitan areas.
“I think in a rural county like ours, we still need to rely on them,” Spahr said.
Spahr said the county owns five radio towers, and the EMA office is responsible for four of them. The towers are utilized for free by county departments and schools.
The commissioners had a busy week with many meetings and events. Among other activities, Commissioner Bill Frankart attended the Seneca County Fair Board meeting, where he learned that the board has been actively researching entertainment options for the 2024 fair. This morning, Frankart was interviewed by radio host Mike Roca at WTTF. Kelly Marker joined Frankart during the interview to talk about her role as Seneca County Chief Dog Warden.
Commissioner Tyler Shuff said he visited City Hall to welcome new Tiffin Mayor Lee Wilkinson, and he attended a Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP) meeting, where he learned about a real estate tax relief program and was asked to join the GLCAP Executive Committee. Shuff also said an announcement will be made soon regarding three new businesses coming to Seneca County.
“Small business is alive and thriving in Seneca County,” Shuff said.
Commissioner Anthony Paradiso congratulated Advertiser-Tribune reporter Kayla Trevino for her third-place award presented by the International Association of Fire Fighters.
“We want to recognize Kayla,” Paradiso said. “We are blessed to have such great coverage.”
In other business, Seneca County Administrator Barb Patterson said the Juvenile/ Probate Court probation officers’ radios will no longer sync with the sheriff’s department radios, which were upgraded.
“The probation officers can no longer communicate with their radios, so they are using cell phones,” Patterson said.
Patterson said the county will fund new radios for the probation officers, which are estimated to cost about $7,500.
During the meeting, the commissioners addressed resident concerns about a request by Carmeuse quarry’s Maple Grove Operation to vacate County Rd. 31 in Bettsville. Paradiso said the request was first made in 2020, but the quarry took no action. The request recently resurfaced, and local residents are voicing opposition about closing the road.
“Now, I’m hearing from the Village of Bettsville, Liberty Township and local residents. They don’t want it,” Paradiso said.
The decision to vacate the road ultimately falls on the commissioners, and Patterson said Carmeuse has not officially applied to vacate the road.
The commissioners made no decision at the meeting, and Paradiso said the Carmeuse employees can access quarry-owned land across County Rd. 31 if the road remains open.
“My position as a commissioner is, we listen to the people,” Paradiso said.