Lima City Council discusses CDBG funds, ice cream vendors, police tasing

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — The agenda may have been shorter than normal for Lima City Council, but thanks to renewed energy brought in part by a weekend incident, councilors had reason to take issue with many ordinances and resolutions on their docket.

Councilor Jamie Dixon created buzz in the room throughout the night as he took objection to the use of Community Development Block Grant funds for a North Street demolition, blocked a licensure resolution because of limitations for those with past criminal activity and pushed for an outside investigatory body for potential Lima Police Department abuses.

The demolition on North Street involved a two-story brick building that had been torn down by the city because of the public safety concerns. The city had taken action to divert a potential problem, Director of Public Works Howard Elstro said. The resolution asked for council’s approval to pay for the $40,000 demolition.

Councilors Dixon and Derry Glenn disagreed with the move since the demo was paid out of CDBG funds, which are typically used to help low- to middle-income residents.

“That lets me know that the administration don’t give a damn about what we say as a legislative body,” Dixon said in reference to the city undertaking the demo without the council’s permission.

“We as the city have an obligation to avert dangers of the public. … The building came down before you voted on it because of the gravity and deterioration,” Elstro said. “Sorry that it happened, but I did what I was obliged to do because of my oath of office.”

The resolution to pay Ben’s Construction for demolition failed on its second reading because of the no votes of Dixon and Glenn.

Not long after, three resolutions which established how the city hands out licenses to those selling frozen desserts from a “vehicle, cart or other apparatus” were discussed. An amending section would give grounds for denial of a license if an individual had a criminal background.

“When we put legislation together, we may be limiting people who may be offenders,” Dixon said.

Council President John Nixon explained that limitations could be made on those grounds, not that everyone with a criminal history would be denied.

“Grounds, not limited to, we all know what that means,” Dixon said. NAACP members who were in the crowd clapped for Dixon’s inference.

The licensing ordinances were sent to the public works committee for consideration.

Finally, council members addressed the weekend’s St. Gerard Festival incident when Sgt. Nick Hart tased 30-year-old Ashley Hardy after alleged disorderly conduct. The Lima News released a video of the arrest, but the video fails to show exactly what happened when Hart used his taser due to a vehicle obstructing the view.

Hardy was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing official business and resisting arrest. She was transported to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s for barb removal after the incident.

Hardy, with her right hand wrapped in gauze, attended the city council meeting with NAACP Lima Chapter President Ron Fails and NAACP committee member Ray Magnus, but she did not give any public comment. Hart also attended the council meeting to give a report on liquor permit classes he had been asked to organize with the Ohio Board of Liquor Control because of another race-tinged issue brought up by the council involving objections to liquor permit renewals.

Glenn scheduled a safety services committee for June 11 at 6 p.m. to consider the organization of an outside third party to investigate potential abuses of the Lima Police Department.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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