Secession Update: Village/Township have talks

LOCAL NEWS

LaGrange, LaGrange Township put off divorce

LAGRANGE — Officials from the village of LaGrange and LaGrange Township sat down face-to-face Wednesday evening during a special public meeting to try to come to a resolution on whether the village would secede from the township.

While nothing may have been resolved, the two sides walked away hoping to salvage the partnership between the two entities.

The village has claimed that its residents pay about $50,000 to $70,000 of inside millage each year to the township, but the residents don’t see any benefits from those taxes. Township leaders have disputed the figures of how much inside millage village residents pay.

Another issue has been who will handle the responsibility of maintenance at the cemetery on West Main Street on the west end of the village. While the township has handled burials and the maintenance of the cemetery for years, both sides learned last year from the state that it’s the village that is responsible for maintaining the cemetery.

LaGrange Village Council has been considering the possibility of seceding from the township for years.

“The relationship over the past three or four has been fractured,” Councilman Rick Honer said. “All these little things start to become agitating. What happened to cooperation? Now it’s more like nickels and dimes. Instead of working together, it’s like how can I get my money back and your money to you? That’s been one of the biggest issues.”

While the village has several issues with the township, Village Council has agreed to “drop everything” and not secede if the township takes over maintenance of the cemetery again, “having things go back to the way they were,” Village Council President Gary Kincannon told the township trustees. The village said that would at least give village residents something for the inside millage they pay.

But two of the three LaGrange Township trustees said village residents already get something for that money.

“I’ve tried to look at things the village and township have done together,” Trustee Doug Gardner said. “I feel the village came out getting a really fair value for that inside millage.”

One trustee, though, dissented from his colleagues on the board of trustees.

“I disagree with my two colleagues, but it’s my own opinion,” Trustee Gary Burnett said. “I would like to take the cemetery back, personally, and go back to the way things were. I do not want to separate. Some people want to, but I don’t. If we do, we’re going to have a year of trying to figure out the ambulance and fire. What are we going to do there?”

If the village would secede from the township, the residents of the village would no longer have fire and EMS service, which is handled by the township’s fire department. The two sides have discussed either creating a fire district to serve the township and village or the village could enter into a contract to receive service from the township’s department.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the trustees repeatedly stated that the cooperation between the two sides is a benefit of the inside millage paid by village residents. LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said the cooperation doesn’t have to end if the village secedes.

“We don’t have to pay for cooperation,” Strauss said. “Cooperation can be done whether we are together or apart. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I feel like it keeps coming up. Are you saying that we have to keep paying that money to have the cooperation?

“I’m not paying for cooperation. That cooperation can and should continue. We don’t have to pay for it, but we have to justify to our residents.”

The township trustees agreed to consider taking over the maintenance of the cemetery if the village continues to provide a full-time employee, while the township will provide a part-time employee, to maintain LaGrange Community Park, which is one of the partnerships the two sides have entered over the years.

Some residents spoke during the meeting saying they felt it was inevitable that the two sides will split.

Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes, who was at the meeting representing the township, warned against secession.

“If you split, it’s not like you take your ball and just go home. It’s more like a divorce,” he said. “Anyone who’s been through a divorce knows you never end up better afterward. This is going to be an ugly thing. It’s going to be horrible to try and figure out what we have to do because these folks have trusted each other and done things on handshake deals, which is great. It’s going to make it really tough, though. It’s going to be a nightmare trying to figure out how we split everything up, like a divorce.”

Old Keystone High hosts Police from all over the Country!

COPS AND COURTS

Law enforcement undergoes active shooter training at old Keystone Middle School

LAGRANGE — Shots rang out in the back hallway of the old Keystone Middle School.

“Go! Go! Go!

“Entry made. All three units.

“One down, one down!”

Down the hall, a man raised his arms screaming, “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it!”

Commands were yelled, instructing the man – later identified as the shooter – to get down and stay down.

Among the injuries included head wounds, a gunshot to the neck and at least one person was dead.

Those uninjured left the building surrounded by officers.

Police officers, firefighters and rescue crew personnel then surveyed the scene. Some helped carry the injured out. Others stood by, securing the room where the injured were gathered.

Nearly 20 minutes later, the same group of 24 police officers, 15 firefighter and rescue crew members and one dispatcher acted out another active-shooter scenario.

Monday through Friday, the LaGrange Police Department, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training and the FBI are hosting an Active Attack Integrated Response course at the former Keystone elementary and middle schools, said LaGrange Police Chief Chad Duensing.

“It’s become imperative to hold these types of training sessions for law enforcement officers and rescue personnel across the United States so they are prepared for active shooters in any situation — whether inside an office building, movie theater, school or church,” Duensing said.

LaGrange Police Lt. Wayne Ramsey was instrumental in organizing the only course of its kind in Lorain County. The course brought first responders from across Ohio, as well as Georgia and Louisiana.

“This is a combined training course,” Ramsey said. “The scenarios are based on active shooter incidents. The course provides a model framework for law enforcement, fire and EMS to integrate responses during an active attack/shooter event through the rescue task force concept.”

The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University was created in 2002 by a partnership between Texas State University, San Marcos Police Department and Hays County Sheriff’s Office, to address the need for active shooter response training for first responders, said ALERRT instructor CJ Williams.

ALERRT was established after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. In 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher and wounded 24 people in Columbine, Colo., before turning the weapons on themselves.

In 2012, the FBI partnered with ALERRT and adopted the ALERRT curriculum as the FBI’s standard for active shooter response training. FBI special agents now instruct ALERRT across the United States, helping prepare state and local officers while establishing local partnerships with law enforcement colleagues.

To date, 130,000 first responders have been trained nationwide using dynamic active shooter, force-on-force scenario-based training, Williams said.

Using more than $30 million in state and federal grant funding, after the one-week intense course, the attendees will be certified to bring the program to their own agencies, Williams said.

“It’s important to integrate fire and police who respond to threats of an active shooter,” Williams said.

The ultimate goals, Ramsey said, are to stop the killing and evacuate the building.

The average response time is three minutes for first responders to arrive at a scene, Williams said.

After witnessing a scenario Tuesday afternoon, LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said the program a useful tool not only for the Keystone Schools, should an active shooting ever arise, but to prepare all first responders for what can be a traumatizing event.

“It scared me when the guns went off,” Strauss said. “But, obviously they have to hear that and be prepared for all of those situations. For myself, it makes me feel a lot better our officers are in the training. People do not want to get complacent and say, ‘Well, that was Columbine … that’s not here.’ You can never have enough training.”

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 440-329-7243 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com. Follow her @MLinebrinkCT on Twitter.

Welcome to the Village of LaGrange!


355 SOUTH CENTER STREET
LAGRANGE, OHIO 44050

LOCATION: Welcome to LaGrange, Ohio (established in 1875), a growing, rural community located in LaGrange Township in southern

 Lorain County. Just 10 miles south of Elyria, and about 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, LaGrange has seen a growth spurt because of its proximity to Cleveland and Elyria and its location six miles south of the I-480 spur (U.S. Route 20). LaGrange is approximately 20 minutes from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, and 35 minutes from downtown Cleveland. Interstate 71 is located 20 minutes south (via State Route 301) or east (via State Route 303).

EDUCATION: LaGrange is home to the Keystone Local Schools, Wildcats. The Keystone schools are located on a new campus on Opportunity Way. the High School (opened in 2006), the Middle School (opened in 2013), and the Elementary School (opened in the fall of 2015) and a new athletic facility are all contiguous. Visit their web page at www.keystonelocalschools.org. The “Friends of LaGrange Public Library” has worked diligently with the Elyria Public Library to open our library facility in the old “Vets Hall” building in Veterans Park. Local “Post Secondary” opportunities include Lorain County Community College which is 15 miles north of town, and Oberlin College, only 10 miles away. (more…)

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Pheasant Run Sanitary Project Update

The Pheasant Run sanitary sewer project is moving along, quickly.  This project is being contracted by the Lorain County Commissioners.  LaGrange Village is expanding our wastewater plant to accept this sewage.  The expansion will be paid for with funds received from Pheasant Run residents through sewer utility payments. Click on the flyer below to see the status as of January 29, 2018.

PHEASANT RUN PROJECT UPDATES FLYER 1-29-18

Durham Ridge Housing Development Nearly Complete

Durham Ridge at Grey Hawk Golf Club experienced a boom in construction in 2017.  The development has had slow growth over the last five years but Ryan Homes, low lot costs and low interest rates created this growth.  Approximately 45 homes were built in 2017 with more planned for 2018.  Streets with empty lots are not only eye-sores, but create a maintenance cost with little income for the Village.  The new homes increase the Village’s valuation and brings added income tax to offset that maintenance!  Village Council would like to welcome our new residents and hope you enjoy your “country club” atmosphere in our rural setting!  Overall, 51 new houses, 28 apartment units and nine condominium units were constructed in the Village in 2017! The apartments are at the end of Keywood Street.

    

West Main St. Cemetery to Become Property of the Village

The LaGrange Cemetery, located on West Main Street, has been the property and has been maintained by LaGrange Township for over 100 years.  Due to a recent discovery in the Ohio Revised Code, the cemetery became the property of the Village on January 1st, 2018.  Under the ORC, townships are not allowed to own cemeteries within the boundaries of a municipality.  This cemetery is full, but all titles to plots and records pertaining to the cemetery will become the property of the Village.  The Village will also be responsible to maintain the cemetery.  If there are any concerns. Contact the LaGrange Municipal Offices at:  440-355-5555.