The Village of Grand Rapids Council met Monday, November 13, inside the old fire hall for a regularly scheduled meeting that lasted just over an hour. Though the meeting appeared tense at times, there were many moments where the negativity was addressed. Readers can listen to the meeting in full at the bottom of this article.
Council approved bills in the amount of $39,745.30 from October 20 through November 9.
Representatives from Suburban Gas were in attendance and spoke about safety. Residents are reminded that if they see blowing dirt coming up from the ground, bubbling, hear hissing, roaring, or spell rotten egg to evacuate upwind and call 911. They also remind residents to call 811 for any type of digging.
A sheriff’s deputy from the Wood County Sheriff’s Office was in attendance. Council thanked deputies for walking the alley and checking door locks.
Administrator Chad Beyer spoke of various projects around the village to include a new security system for the administration building. Beyer indicated a new camera on the outside of the office will assist with tracking down those illegally dumping items at the recycling dumpsters.
Mayor John Berry presented those in attendance with area water rates, which shows Grand Rapids among the lowest in the area. Per 3,000 gallons Grand Rapids water rate is $73.19 compared to McClure’s $132.08, Bowling Green’s $95.15, and Tontogany’s $100.46. Council Member Lynn Sylvain requested a meeting to find opportunities to lower the rate.
Installation of a parking lot next to Town Hall was briefly brought up after David Fowler spoke in-front of council. Fowler requested the village ceases moving forward with the installation of a parking lot next to Town Hall. Council President Rachel Smith said she would honor the request to review it but stated there have been multiple requests for additional parking, especially during summer events.
Mayor Berry spoke briefly on the state of the village.
“Our village is in pretty good shape financially. It’s stable and 99% of its infrastructure is in good shape as well, roads, sewers, waterlines. A lot of other small towns around would like to have what Grand Rapids has to offer,” said Berry. “We diligently worked for it and want to keep it that way.”
Mayor Berry also addressed the perceived negativity around the village. The mayor stated it has gotten worse over the last two years.
“We’re going to be working on it trying to rectify things, and I hope people can realize that,” said Mayor Berry as he address council and those in attendance.
Council Member Louise Estep addressed the newsletters that were sent out prior to the election.
“There were a couple letters that said ‘Grand Rapids News’ that I received during this pre-election,” said Estep. “It says it’s ‘News from the Village of Grand Rapids, Ohio Council.’ This is not something that represents me as a council member, and I want to make that clear. This did not come from this council, at least my participation in it. I had nothing to do with this negativity, and I want that point made.”
Estep went on to say, “It’s not how you represent your residents is being negative. We are all here to hear their concerns and if we put stuff out like this they’re not going to come to us with their ideas, suggestions, complaints. This is not how you do it.”
NWO Community Media received both letters prior to the 2023 general election. We checked with multiple residents who received the same letters making multiple accusations against the current mayor, council, and a township trustee. Due to many unconfirmed allegations within the letter NWO Community Media’s board of trustees have decided to not publish the contents of the document. NWO Community Media reached out to various individuals mentioned in the document, including the author, but did not receive a response.
Estep finalized her statement by stating, “It’s not who we are.”
Grand Rapids council meetings occur the second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. inside the old fire hall. You can listen to this meeting below.