Resident blasts township for lack of snow removal

YELLOW CREEK – Township trustee Kenny Biacco says he has discovered another grant, this one from the Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association (OMEGA), that could solve problems for a cash-strapped Yellow Creek Township. Other problems came to light by the end of this week’s trustees meeting, however.

“It’s up to $15,000 on anything: Equipment, anything the guys would use in a normal business day,” Biacco said. The downside is that it is a 50-percent matching grant, though Biacco offered that it would be worth the investment for the right purchases.

The deadline for the OMEGA grant application is May 1, though Biacco says the first question on the form regards the income survey proposed by he and McKenzie at a trustees meeting last month. The lack of such survey information, they say, makes it unlikely the township will receive any of the larger grants that are available from state and federal agencies.

The survey would ask township residents about the number of people living in the household presently and the combined household income. When initially suggested, the proposal was met with some resistance by several residents in attendance, who expressed concern about the true necessity of the survey and the privacy of their information.

Biacco said he would refrain from completing or filing the paperwork at least until after the upcoming trustees meeting on March 25, when Tad Herold, Pam Dray and Marie Cox from the Columbiana County Development Department will be in attendance to answer residents’ questions about the survey.

“There’s no sense in me getting carried away on this grant if we’re not going to -“

“…until we get the survey done,” McKenzie said, finishing Biacco’s sentence.

Bill Lucas, a local service agent from the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority (OTARMA), presented an insurance package for Yellow Creek Township at the meeting. The township has had liability coverage through OTARMA since 1991, and will continue on through 2014 after Biacco and McKenzie approved the package. It includes coverage for the youth workers supplied by the county, cyber coverage if any township information is hacked or stolen online and carries no deductible.

The meeting ended on a sour note, however, when David Skinner addressed Biacco and McKenzie about a lack of winter maintenance on Torrence Drive near Hillcrest. Skinner stated that he’s only encountered trouble for the last three of the 19 years he’s lived there. “The lack of effort to keep Torrence Drive plowed and ashed in the winter is ridiculous,” he said, claiming his ownership of an all-wheel-drive vehicle as the only reason he or his wife have been able to drive on Torrence at all this winter.

What Skinner called “the last straw” came when, following a significant weekend snowfall, he waited until 5 p.m., when a township truck arrived, only to stop 30 yards up the hill dropping ashes after losing traction. Following one more attempt, the truck pulled away, leaving the rest of Torrence untreated.

Following a series of phone calls, the other truck and driver was dispatched to finish the job. “My question is, when he couldn’t make it up Torrence Drive because of a malfunction with the truck, why wasn’t he on the phone to one of you two to let you know?” Skinner asked. He suggested that if he hadn’t called McKenzie and Biacco, Torrence would have been left in that condition.

Both trustees agreed that Torrence, which runs downhill into state Route 45, is hazardous if left untreated in the winter.

“There’s a difference between doing your job and having pride in your job,” Skinner said. He said the driver who maintained Torrence Drive the first 16 years he lived there took such pride in his work, but that its present custodian – who was not identified by name – did not, and that it shows.

Biacco says the lack of a policy and procedures manual for Yellow Creek Township is the reason for such incidents, and that he is working to have one put together to avoid such incidents in the future. “Now we’re facing this stuff,” he said, but added that the lack of a third trustee is an impediment presently.

The lack of a policy guide came into focus recently when township roads foreman Gary Mitchell used a township truck to help clear the parking lot of Yellow Creek Presbyterian Church (actually in Madison Township) in December.