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Sherman board member pushes forward with dissolution referrendum

September 14, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN - Although Sherman Village trustees voted at their monthly meeting on Sept. 7 to proceed no further with dissolution of the village, a town official vowed to push the matter to a referendum.

Board members voted three to one to not proceed with the matter of dissolution, with trustee Donna Higginbotham offering the single dissenting vote. Mayor John Patterson said, "I don't want to go any further as the mayor here. If the people want to pursue this, you need to get 10 percent of the voters to sign a petition."

Sherman Town Councilman James Higginbotham, who was present at the meeting, said he couldn't understand why the village wouldn't want to go ahead with a plan for dissolution. He said he will move the issue forward, anyway.

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
Jeanette Ram took over the position of Sherman Village clerk after the departure of Ann Gilbert.

"One way or another you're going to have it (a vote on dissolution)," Higginbotham said. "You've got two choices: you can call for a referendum or I'll get the signatures and you'll have to do it," he said.

Patterson reminded board members of what Town Supervisor Mark Persons said at the informational public hearing on August 9. "I'm thinking that Mark (Persons) said he would cut the taxes down as much as possible, but services would be cut," Patterson said. "If people want these services back, the taxes are going to go back up," he added.

The decision of the village trustees to not proceed any further with dissolution came after a study was completed by CGR and reviewed by the dissolution committee. CGR Senior Associate Paul Bishop presented the results of the consolidation study at the public hearing on Aug. 9.

Bishop told those at the hearing that the village board could opt to develop a plan and schedule a referendum. He said that if the village decides to go no further with this, the other option is for 10 percent of village residents to petition for dissolution. Residents would then cast their votes, and if they decide on dissolution, a plan would subsequently be developed, Bishop said.

Patterson said he felt the turnout at the informational hearing was inadequate to give a clear mandate regarding dissolution. "There certainly wasn't enough people at that meeting to get an idea of what the village wants," he said. "I don't want to go any further with this. If the people want to get a petition to have a vote, they can go ahead."

In other business, the board welcomed its new Village Clerk Jeanette Ramm to her first official board meeting. Ramm took over the position after long-time clerk Ann Gilbert moved to Florida during the summer.

Patterson said he wanted everyone to know "How pleased I am to have Jeanette on board with us. She has tried to learn in one month what Ann learned over nine years," he said.

Ramm, who moved here from South Africa three and a half years ago, said "I really enjoy administration, so this is a good fit for me."

Ramm arrived at a difficult time because the future of the village of Sherman is uncertain. If the village is dissolved, her position would be eliminated.

Making the job extra difficult was the departure of Gilbert. "It would have been better for me if I had managed to train alongside of her," Ramm said.

"I understand the way things happen. I'm just excited for the opportunity to learn all that I can," she added.

Ramm asked board members if gas, electric and telephone bills could be paid as they come in, without waiting for approval at board meetings. She noted that there were often late fees bills upon receipt added to the bills. The board voted to authorize Ramm to pay these

In other matters, Patterson raised the matter of legal representation for the village. He said many law firms had been contacted, including Wright, Wright, and Hampton, Lundberg Law Offices, and Thomas Law Office, all of Jamestown, as well as Dennis Jones of Findley Lake, Seachrist Law Offices of Westfield, and Crandall Nyweide of Clymer.

Patterson noted that many were unable to accept new clients and he said the three who could provide legal representation for the village are Wright, Wright and Hampton, Lundberg Law Offices, and Thomas Law Office. Board members voted to send a letter of interest to Attorney Todd Thomas.

Jay Irwin told board members that Brandon Smith is now a certified 2A operator, in accordance with the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Program.

Department of Streets and Water Superintendent Doug Crane told village trustees that water lines are completed in the alley. Crane also raised the matter of village employees' medical insurance buy-out option. He said there seems to be inconsistencies in the amounts, and asked that the board review the handling of this matter in the employee handbook.



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