Sign replacement focus of township meeting

Sign replacement focus of township meeting

Image Credit: Lori Feeney

Nearly 40 minutes of the Lawrence Township Board of Trustees meeting on July 14 was focused on residents’ concerns about the welcome sign being replaced in Wilkshire Hills. At its June 30 meeting, trustees voted to replace the existing sign on the knoll in front of the Sleep Inn on state Route 212.

The new sign was to say “Welcome to Lawrence Township” instead of "Wilkshire Hills,” as it has read since it was erected in 1991.

Brenda Fox voiced her disapproval of changing the sign. “I've lived in Wilkshire Hills for 45 years, and it's always been Wilkshire Hills,” Fox said. “Wilkshire Hills has an identity of its own.”

Another resident, Chrysanthe Vassiles, said the community of Wilkshire Hills is a census-designated place, and a number of businesses have incorporated Wilkshire Hills in their names.

“So there is an identity associated with it,” she said.

Vassiles said the township’s website includes text saying, “The largest portion of Lawrence Township is the residential area of Wilkshire Hills,” and "the population of Lawrence Township has experienced tremendous growth, especially in the residential area known as Wilkshire Hills.”

“So I don't think the importance of the Wilkshire Hills identity can be diminished, nor do I think it should be diminished by changing the sign and the prominence of Wilkshire Hills on the sign," Vassiles said.

Matt Ritterbeck, chairman of the board of trustees, said when the board was asked by Sleep Inn to replace the aging sign, he assumed the township had placed it there originally. He later learned the Community Business Association had done so.

When residents voiced objection to the estimated $8,460 cost, Ritterbeck said funding for the sign was to be taken from the 3% lodging tax paid by the Sleep Inn.

Additional ideas were expressed including simply removing the sign. In the end it was agreed trustees would ask the sign maker to present new renderings that include the name Wilkshire Hills on the sign along with Lawrence Township.

In other matters

Ritterbeck said he will meet with an engineering firm to discuss the feasibility of adding to the township garage to provide more storage space for equipment.

Todd Reynolds reported in the absence of Road Superintendent Chuck McNutt, saying recent curb work had been completed, as well as chip and seal work on Eberhard Road.

Fiscal officer Ann Ackerman reported a change in the IRS mileage rate for the remainder of 2022. Beginning July 1, the rate was raised from 58.5 cents to 62.5 cents per mile. Trustees voted to approve the new rate for reimbursement where it applies.

Ackerman also said the second half of funds from the American Rescue Recovery Act would arrive July 15 in the amount of $242,393.95.

New Dollar General store coming?

Zoning inspector Ron Weekley said in contacting Dollar General’s regional manager about the need to have the property mowed, he learned a new Dollar General store is being planned in the township on a different parcel of land. Weekley said he did not know if the current store would be torn down or where the new store might be built, but he did know the land has already been purchased.

Weekley asked Fire Chief Shawn Lynch if, by the township appointing him its fire-prevention officer in the recent fire contract, he would be able to perform inspections there. Lynch said he would.

Lynch said the new fire truck should be fully completed and in service by the end of August.

Trustees went into a closed executive session to discuss personnel and language changes required in the policy handbook.