Fireworks ban delayed


Three ordinances and three resolutions were approved and adopted during last week’s meeting of Hillsboro City Council, while an ordinance to ban the use of consumer-grade fireworks in the city was pushed back to a second reading.

According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, a new law allows Ohioans to legally discharge fireworks on certain holidays. Ohioans can legally discharge 1.4G consumer fireworks in Ohio on certain days unless the relevant political subdivision has chosen to ban their use. Under previous law, individuals could purchase consumer-grade fireworks in Ohio but had to transport them out of state within 48 hours.

The ordinance to ban the use of consumer-grade fireworks in Hillsboro was moved to a second reading as council member Mary Stanforth voted against passing it as an emergency. The ordinance is in response to Ohio’s House Bill 172 that will allow consumer-grade fireworks to be set off on private property in Ohio on designated holidays beginning July 1.

Mayor Justin Harsha expressed concerns with allowing the fireworks in Hillsboro. “I would be lying if I said I don’t like to shoot off fireworks because I do, but in the big picture, I see problems could arise by making this legal or allowing them to stay legal, and it hasn’t been allowed in the past, but it’s up to you,” he told council.

Hillsboro Law Director Randalyn Worley noted that putting off consideration of the ordinance until the next city council meeting will allow consumer-grade fireworks to be lit on private property in Hillsboro this Fourth of July. “The first Friday, Saturday and Sunday before and after the Fourth of July — that’s the way the statute reads — so those will be the days that fireworks will be allowed,” she said.

In another matter, council voted 6-0 to excuse the absence of council member Patty Day for a family emergency.

Randy Proehl, a representative of Horizon Connects, spoke during the meeting about his proposal for the company to set up a 20-foot by 20-foot site in Hillsboro to house devices that allow internet traffic to crossover networks. According to Proehl, Horizon Connects has an existing site near the Walmart in Hillsboro that serves local schools, Highland District Hospital and the library in Hillsboro.

Proehl proposed a city-owned location off of Beech Street as a potential site for the equipment. “We want to expand our footprint to homes and small businesses in numerous communities along with the existing backbone for the purpose of providing superior service,” he said.

Council president Tom Eichinger said the city will have to decide if an easement can be granted to allow the project and referred the matter to council’s community enhancement committee for further review.

During the meeting, the counsel reviewed communication from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control about the request for a liquor license for the Patriot Public House being constructed on West Main Street, and counsel did not object to the request.

Council heard comments from Hillsboro resident Sherry Young about access to her property being blocked by 20 tons of gravel that was dumped in an alley behind the Springlake Condos, and people living in a nearby shed. “I can’t get in and out, and they’re going through private property to get in and out,” said Young.

Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott informed Young that the city has served notice of violations to those living in the shed, and there is a 14-day timeline for remediation.

Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha provided information about the Festival of the Bells that is returning to the city July 7-9. Harsha said an uptown parade is coming back to kick off the festival this year on its first day, and the Highland County Historical Society will host its annual Pioneer Day during the festival Saturday, July 9.

“We’re going to have the farmer’s market uptown,” said Harsha. “There’s going to be a magic show, and artist Gabe Gilliland is going to be performing, so it’s just going to be a booming weekend for Hillsboro.”

During her report to council, Abbott said that state Rep. Shane Wilkin announced the state capital budget was signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine last week, and it includes $100,000 to support work on the amphitheater that will be located on the green space on West Main Street.

Abbott said that the city issued 20 commercial and five residential building permits during May.

Finance committee chair Mary Stanforth spoke to council about a joint meeting of the finance committee and the civil service-employee relations committee concerning city employee pay that was held June 7. “The discussion centered on the current pay scale of elected and appointed officials, some of which have not had an increase since 2008,” she said. She said the discussion focused on the need for pay ranges for the safety and service director, auditor, tax commissioner, wastewater superintendent, utility office manager, mayor, law director, and public works superintendent.

Another joint meeting to discuss the pay ordinance will be held June 28.

An ordinance to increase the rates charged for water service for Hillsboro residents by 3 percent for the water rate had its second reading, and will have a third reading at the next city council meeting.

An ordinance to appropriate $3,000 of donated funds to pay for the Hillsboro High School Scholarship Program was approved and adopted.

A resolution to authorize the safety and service director to purchase or repair pumps for the city wastewater plant without formal bidding was approved and adopted. Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Tyler Warnock said five of the plant’s pumps went out during one week this year. He said he is unsure if they will all need to be replaced, but the total cost of replacement would be $175,000.

A resolution to authorize the city to participate in the Ohio Department of Development Roadwork Development Grant for fiscal year 2022 was approved and adopted. The resolution will allow the city to proceed with work on the proposed Roberts Lane/Fenner Avenue extension through a $2.3 million state grant.

A pair of ordinances to make $13,300 available for services and supplies needed to repair Shaffer Park from storm damages that happened about two years ago were approved and adopted.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha (left) and safety and service director Brianne Abbott (right) are pictured at last week’s city council meeting. Visible in the background is Hillsboro Chief of Police Eric Daniels. Mayor Justin Harsha (left) and safety and service director Brianne Abbott (right) are pictured at last week’s city council meeting. Visible in the background is Hillsboro Chief of Police Eric Daniels. John Hackley | The Times-Gazette
Consumer grade fireworks will be legal in Hillsboro this Fourth of July

By John Hackley

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