NORTH LEWISBURG – The village council approved a road closure to allow for vendors at the Celebrate Life Festival following a request from Cardinal’s Pizza.
The Sept. 12 request was made at council’s June 13 meeting, but council did not vote on the request during that meeting.
The request sought to close East Maple Street, which crosses state Route 245 and state Route 559. Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth said the village had concerns about closing a state highway due to insurance and safety issues.
This year’s festival is scheduled for Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cardinal’s Pizza owner Don Van Zant detailed the life-changing events from five years ago when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. On Oct. 10, 2012, Van Zant received a liver transplant from Drew Mason, a 26-year-old who passed in an accident in Kentucky.
After meeting Mason’s family four years ago, Van Zant set up the Drew Mason Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Van Zant said fundraisers such as the festival and a pizza sampling event have continued to grow each year.
“Right now we’ve got between 15 and 20 vendors that say that they will be coming, we’re planning on some additional activities for people to participate in and that is why we have asked the village to please consider closing that small portion of the street for those two hours to allow us to showcase our event, showcase our village and let people come from outside the area and see what kind of community this truly is,” Van Zant said.
When put to a vote, council unanimously approved the decision to allow for the road closure 5-0, with council member John Flora absent. The street is set to be closed for the festival between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Mechanicsburg Police Capt. Scott Bodey said since the July 11 council meeting, there were 185 traffic stops with 90 warnings and 95 citations, 115 reports and three felony indictments.
After this summary, Bodey took time to address concerns brought up through social media.
Since the department started covering North Lewisburg, Bodey said most of the concerns brought to the attention of police were traffic related. As they have seen a decrease in traffic offenses in some areas of the village, Bodey said there have been increases in others.
“Traffic issues that were addressed to us, we don’t sweep it under the rug, everything that we do we look into,” Bodey said. “We had a stop sign complaint on Dooley Drive – we spent six to eight hours over the course of about a week sitting on there and seeing minimal activity. Not that I don’t believe there was activity there but I do believe that something about the big black car with red and blue lights really deters people from running through the stop sign so once they see us the violations aren’t going to happen.”
In response to questioning why police run so much traffic, Bodey this was requested by the public at large. He noted traffic stops have been one way police have been able to finds items such as drugs.
“We’ve had four warrant arrests within 45 days based on those traffic stops, multiple driving under suspensions,” Bodey said.
Regarding coverage hours, Bodey said the contract with the village provides for 80 hours and not for the 168 hours. Currently, Bodey said there is a policy the department has setup with dispatch where when no one is covering the village dispatch is supposed to send out a sheriff’s unit.
“If the sheriff’s unit for whatever reason are unable to respond then the dispatch center would call our chief, our chief would make the decision to either send up the Mechanicsburg unit from Mechanicsburg or call me since I do live close,” Bodey said.
Bodey said police are going to start enforcing junk motor vehicles and will send out certified pictures and letters. If people fail to comply within a certain time they will receive a citation.
Champaign County Auditor Karen Bailey informed council that her office is in the process of performing revaluation of properties. Bailey explained every six years the county auditor has to access every parcel in the county.
This year, Bailey said there will be teams of people going throughout the county to do this work.
“Their cars are clearly marked, they’re going to have vests on of a certain color,” Bailey said. “All of the police and fire (departments) have been notified of the names of the people that will be driving the vehicles, their license plates and what they’re wearing.”
Bailey added letters will be sent to the involved property owners about two weeks prior to teams arriving in the area. She encouraged anyone with questions to contact her office at (937) 484-1600.
Safety sign grant
Rush Township Trustee Randy Williams spoke to council about a township safety sign grant.
Williams said a letter from the state detailed the results of a study from 2010 to 2014 on vehicle accidents in townships. Rush Township was in the top 200 of accidents.
While attending meetings in Columbus, the township learned they could partner with North Lewisburg and Woodstock for a grant.
Williams said the township and villages were approved for the grant meaning North Lewisburg will get new safety signs at no cost except for the installation.
In other action:
•Tina Knotts gave a presentation on the Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival which is supposed to occur on Sept. 23 and 24. On Sept. 22 through 24, there will be free community yard sales throughout the village.
•The Friends of the Library will hold a craft fair and flea market at the North Lewisburg Branch of the Champaign County Library, 161 Winder St., between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sept. 23. The event will have crafts, books, clothes, housewares, food and raffles.
•Council accepted a proclamation declaring the week of Sept. 17 through 23 as Constitution Week.
•Halloween or Beggar’s Night will take place in the village on Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.