As mentioned in the previous Ravenswood City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, at the suggestion of Mayor Josh Miller, the Council agreed to hold off on department updates until the first meeting of the new year. It was agreed that this would allow more time for the head of each department to put together their year-end reports. A suggestion was also made regarding the presentation of department reports on a quarterly basis instead of monthly. Council agreed to the suggestion and all department heads will report to Council on a quarterly basis as of Jan. 2020.
Ravenswood City Council held their first meeting of the new year on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. During this meeting, each department provided the Council with their year-end reports, as well as several requests regarding equipment and items they would be needing in the near future to continue doing their jobs effectively.
Ravenswood Chief of Police Lance Morrison began his report by recognizing Officer Colby Bush. Morrison congratulated Bush for recently graduating from the Police Academy. He also presented Bush with a medal for saving the life of a man who had been trapped in a vehicle. In August, Morrison had presented Bush with a Life Saving certificate for his heroic act; however, the medal recently arrived to go with the certificate.
Morrison reported that the police department responded to 550 calls in the last quarter. Those calls involved responding to situations such as tripped alarms, domestic disturbances, harassment cases, petit larcenies, traffic accidents, as well as many other types of cases. Morrison said the department handled 146 misdemeanors, 12 felony cases, and 12 warrant arrests. He also reported that $7,264 was collected in fines and fees.
As part of a project to deter people from illegally passing school busses, officers were placed on several busses in the Ravenswood area. Morrison said at least seven citations were issued during the project.
Other activity included investigating several child abuse and neglect cases, assisting in a car chase with officers from Ohio, and investigating a threat at the high school. Additional officers were placed in the school for precautionary measures during the time of the investigation.
The police department participated in parades, as well as many other community activities during the quarter. Morrison said they took part in Red Ribbon week at the schools, the We Care program, and Shop With a Cop programs.
Overtime was kept to a minimum, according to Morrison, who also reported that for the year, the department had a cost savings of around $53,000, which included $43,000 in unclaimed property monies and the rest from a grant from the Jackson County Community Foundation.
Councilman Steve Tucker commended Morrison for his attention to the department’s overtime costs and for keeping them under control.
Morrison reported that two more officers had started the academy on Monday, Jan. 6.
In addition, Morrison informed the Council that the Ravenswood and Ripley Police Departments along with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office are looking to organize a SWAT team in the county. Due to an issue that happened in Mason County recently, where a police officer was shot, it was decided that an entry team would be beneficial to have locally when circumstances arise that may put an officer in danger of entering a residence alone. Morrison said once the team is up and running, there may be some costs involved for equipment and such.
Miller thanked Morrison for his report and continued help with city events, as well as for everything the department does to keep the city and its residents safe.
Mike DeLong provided a report for the Ravenswood Volunteer Fire Department. He said the department ran 736 emergency calls and held 40 in-house training sessions for their crew, as well as attending 32 out-of-county or state training sessions. DeLong reported they participated in fire education at the elementary schools in the county and participated in several parades, as well as many other community activities.
DeLong said they participated in the Adopt a Highway program and assisted the Police Department in activities also.
According to DeLong, much of the equipment the fire department uses needs to be updated or replaced in order to continue being able to assist the community effectively. Besides a new engine, gear is also needed.
“We are short on bunker gear,” DeLong said. “A complete set of bunker gear runs about $2,600.”
DeLong also reported that the breathing equipment or SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) used by the volunteer fire fighters needs updated in the near future. According to DeLong, the cost for a new SCBA is around $8,000 each. He said the fire marshall requires a SCBA for every seat on an apparatus. By DeLong’s records, 25 SCBAs will be needed along with a new compressor to fill them, and an OSHA approved filling station to store them in once filled.
DeLong and Miller both agreed that these needs were typical firehouse needs of many cities and not just needs by Ravenswood. Miller suggested that DeLong come up with a list of immediate needs and prioritize what would make the most sense to purchase in the near future. Miller feels having a priority list will allow both the city and the fire department to fulfill the needs of all involved while continuing to focus on the safety of the department volunteers and the community as a whole.
In addition, DeLong reported that the department currently has 16 volunteers and two more were added at the end of the year, increasing that number to 18 total. He told the Council that recruitment efforts are in effect and it was a “slow process.”
Bob Huffman, head of the Ravenswood City Maintenance Department, reported that his crew had been busy working on the new City Building. He wanted to recognize Robbie Evans, Ronnie Roush, Chris Murray, and Tim Salser for the great work they had been doing on the building in assembling the new platform, painting, and preparing the council chambers for use.
Huffman noted the department had experienced and dealt with several water main breaks around the city where a couple valves had to be replaced.
Miller said it was cases like these that make the replacement of other valves in the city so important. It was also why additional valves were approved for the water project, according to Miller.
Huffman reported they will begin working on the new handicapped accessible sidewalks at the ball fields as weather permits. Other projects are also in the works for the tennis courts and other areas, weather permitting.
Equipment for the maintenance department will also be needed in the near future including some of the vehicles that are almost 30 years old.
Kim Benson, Ravenswood City Clerk, reported that the filing dates for the upcoming election were Jan. 13-25. Benson said she would be in the office until midnight on Jan. 25 for any last minute candidates who wish to register.
Mayor Miller passed out a potential amendment to the Council regarding a mid-year budget revision due to the projected increase in revenue of $262,000 for fiscal year 2020.
“It has to be plugged into the budget in some capacity because we are required to have a balanced budget,” Miller said. “I’m working on that and it will be presented next meeting.”
Miller said after that is reviewed and submitted for amendment, the Council will begin working on the budget for fiscal year 2021.
According to Miller, some of the projected increase has to do with the small business activity and the increase from the B&O tax.
“The revenue coming in from that is almost six figures, if not more,” Miller said.
Miller credits the many different events that Councilwoman Denise Toler and others have been working on, as well as events such as the GLOW Walk for bringing people into town, who are in turn spending money and increasing the revenue.
Miller is excited for the future and feels Ravenswood is in a good place financially.
The final department report came from Katrena Ramsey with the Ravenswood Board of Parks and Recreation. Ramsey presented a video compilation of all the many activities and events that BOPARC had done throughout the year. The video can be seen on their Facebook page under Ravenswood Board of Parks & Recreation.
The next meeting of the Ravenswood City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23 on the third floor of the City Building located at 1 Wall Street.