SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP At meeting, officials stay mum on cell phone probe

NEW SPRINGFIELD -- About 40 Springfield Township residents who crowded the trustees meeting Wednesday were told that trustees would not take questions about an investigation into township cell phone use.
Chairman Jim Holleran said the trustees could not comment because the matter is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.
Holleran and Trustee Shirley Heck had been criticized in a letter from Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains for passing a motion at last month's meeting to retroactively allow employees to use township cell phones for personal use.
Gains' office had advised the trustees that cell phones could not be allowed for personal use based on state law and on a consultation with the office of Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery.
Holleran read Gains' letter at the meeting at the request of Trustee Reed Metzka.
Later in the meeting, Heck read from materials she said were provided on Montgomery's Web site discussing cellular phone policies.
Among controls listed to ensure proper use of cell phones is a statement that employees "should make every effort" to avoid using cellular phones for personal calls.
"While personal use is strongly discouraged, the government usually recognizes that it is sometime inevitable," it states.
Petersburg waterline
Also Wednesday, Heck announced that the final funding is now in place for the Petersburg waterline. She said Springfield Township was one of four applicants in the county that received a Community Development Block Grant award for low to moderate income residents.
That $150,000 award will be combined with $350,000 in Aqua Ohio money. Additional funds from Issue 2 and an agricultural appropriations bill will complete funding for the $1.2 million project. Residents will have to pay only the hookup fee.
Bids are expected to be advertised for the project in the fall.
Fire proposal
Metzka announced that he had gone to New Middletown Village Council on Monday to propose forming a joint fire district, an idea that had first been proposed 15 years ago. He said village officials were interested.
Metzka added that since that meeting he has talked with Holleran who agrees the idea should be explored. He said the village would like to see a public meeting to initiate discussions.
Metzka added that he also talked to trustees from Unity Township and they may be also interested in the north part of their township being a part of the district. He said Unity lost its fire department and is currently contracting with two other departments for coverage.
Also Wednesday,
UThe Ohio Department of Transportation informed trustees that state Route 617 will soon undergo repairs to the road shoulder.
UTrustees agreed to pay Warren Fire Equipment of Warren $99,800 for firefighters' turnout gear. The money will come from a Federal Emergency Management Grant.

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