PORTSMOUTH — In its penultimate session of 2020, Portsmouth City Council will convene on Monday evening to discuss eight items on its agenda and the open 6th ward seat.
The seat has remained vacant since the unfortunate passing of Thomas Lowe last month and there are now four applicants- James D. Jordan, Kenneth “Rich” Scarberry, Dennis Packard, Susan Reed- vying for the position.
In its closing remarks during the Nov. 23 session, Council and other city political figures shared their condolences to Lowe’s family who had held the seat since the 2015 election and renowned throughout Sciotoville.
“I’m going to miss Councilman Lowe,” said Mayor Kevin Johnson. “I’m going to miss his wit, I’m going to miss his honesty, his directness. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone that was more proud and more supported by their community.”
“He was very proud to be a Tartan, proud to be from Sciotoville and he’ll be very much missed,” said City Auditor Trent Williams, a fellow East High School graduate. “As he would want me to say, ‘Go Blue’.”
Interviews will be conducted in executive session before Council appoints the new councilperson. It will be the second time since last month that a new councilperson will be appointed, the first coming with 4th Ward Councilwoman Lyvette Mosley on Nov. 9.
Starting with 3rd reading, four pieces will be reviewed including the creation of a code enforcement spreadsheet and the appropriation of $10,000 in the use of a comprehensive housing market analysis.
The spreadsheet, which failed to surpass the three-reading rule on Nov. 23, would form a contract between Shawnee State University and the city. Its cost is not known, but in City Manager Sam Sutherland’s view the project would eliminate confusion and give Council a better understanding of Code Enforcement issues.
Projected to take six months, the housing analysis will have support from the Scioto Foundation, Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority, and the Southern Ohio Medical Center to meet the remaining $30,000 needed funding.
Sutherland may also be authorized to advertise for bids and enter contracts in 2021 contracts. As necessitated by the Ohio Revised Code, municipalities can accept bids on items that exceed $50,000 like uniforms for Police and Fire Departments.
In 2nd reading, Council will again hold conversations on the $265,000 Lenco Medcat Vehicle to be used by both the city’s Police and Fire Departments.
The ordinance was first mentioned during the City Managers Nov. 9 meeting, where information on the armored vehicle’s capabilities and the true need for the item with its noticeable price tag.
This vehicle, designed to withstand impact, also has on-spot medical treatment abilities such as oxygen tanks, compartments for medical supplies and gear storage, and trauma lighting. No new storage facility or additional training to operate the vehicle will be required as well.
“The worst thing we can do as city leaders, is wait until a criterial incident happens which costs a first responder or a citizen their life before we take the necessary actions,” reads a letter from Portsmouth Police Chief Debra Brewer and Fire Chief Bill Rasion addressed to Council.
Ordinances in 1st reading include appropriations for 2021 expenses and two separate appropriations of $60,000 and $100,000 for weigh scales and a zoning ordinance update.
Sutherland is asking Council to waive the three-reading rule with the needed replacement of the scales used at the Transfer Station, which had recently been condemned by the city.
Council adopted legislation on the zoning code during its previous session, which would update a 74-year-old ordinance and give locals a better understanding of how land is used in the city said Sutherland.
“Maybe in hindsight or arm-chair quarterbacking, we shouldn’t have waited this long,” he said during that Nov. 23 session. “But now it’s time.”
Council meetings remain closed to the public, but council continues to practice social distancing and abide by the Governor’s orders with a limit of 10 people in the meeting. The meeting will be live streamed on Facebook for the public.
Council asks that all statements or remarks be sent via email to Portsmouth City Clerk Diana Ratliff at: [email protected] prior to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. The timer will be set and there will be a five-minute time limit on each comment that is received.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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