The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 4, 2012

Jefferson to hold tours of old school, police department

By ELLEN KOLMAN - For the Star Beacon
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Jefferson Village voters will get a chance to peruse the former Jefferson Elementary School building and the Jefferson Police Department in an effort to help voters make an informed decision.

The Jefferson Police Department in conjunction with the Jefferson Area School District, will be holding a joint open house, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 13, at the former elementary school building, 108 E. Jefferson St. and the Jefferson Police Department, 86 E. Jefferson St., according to a press release provided by the Jefferson Police Department.

The goal is to allow the general public, who will be voting on the referendum to purchase the former elementary building on Nov. 6 the opportunity to see the police department’s current office, as well as the potential advantages, to the purchase of the former school building, the press release said.

“This is to make sure the voters are informed of the correct information. We do not want to influence anyone; we just want the voters to go and see the (former elementary) building for themselves,” said Village Administrator Terry Finger. “The building is in great shape.”

Finger said the plan for the former elementary school is to move the Jefferson Police Department in that building and allow the Jefferson Fire Department to take the whole (safety) building.

“The old elementary school building has 12,000-square-foot of space and the police department needs 3,500-square-foot. In the old police department building, even with the planned addition, the department would have had only 2,000-square-foot, which is still too small,” he said.

Jefferson Village Police Department Deputy Chief Dave Wassie said in the press release, “There has been a lot of discussion at council and in the editorial section of the paper about the advantages and disadvantages of the building. The only sure way of making an educated decision, is to come out and see the facilities in person. The planned usage of the north section of the building, by the police department, will be highlighted as you view the building.”

Also open for inspection will be the south section of the building, which is available for possibilities for marketing by the Village of Jefferson, Wassie said.

“It is our hope that as many voters as possible, take advantage of the this opportunity,” he said.

Judge Alfred Mackey ruled on April 24 to place the referendum on the November ballot, according to Ashtabula County court records.

On Nov. 7, 2011, Village Council passed an ordinance to complete the purchase of the former elementary school property, 108 E. Jefferson St., from the Jefferson Board of Education for $300,000 for the building and the approximately four acres of land. The offer consists of $150,000 in cash and an additional $150,000 credit package for “in kind” labor and improvements spread over an unspecified period. At the close of the Nov. 7 meeting, a referendum was announced by Cayce Baxley, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Jefferson Village, began a petition process to bring the issue before the voters in the 2012 general election.

The referendum process has delayed the purchase of the former elementary school building for one year by putting the issue into the hands of the voters at the Nov. 6 election.