Council discusses public safety concerns and honoring veterans


By Meladi Brewer

VERSAILLES — The Versailles Village Council met Wednesday to discuss veteran banners and railroad construction.

Village Administrator Kyle Francis has had conversations with Tim Wagner with the Versailles Vets Club regarding additional veteran banners.

“The club currently has a waiting list for folks requesting banners for veterans and are also looking at changing the program slightly,” Francis said.

He advised Wagner to have representatives from the Vets Club to attend a future council meeting to discuss adding additional banner arms to village light poles.

“The club currently has a waiting list from folks requesting banners,” Francis said. “In the past, we had discussion and had light poles with arms already on there.”

The prior direction in council was they weren’t really looking at adding to the program at that time in order to add new banner arms.

“This was because the electric fund owns all those light poles, and the electric fund would have to pay for all those banner arms unless we talk to the Vets Club,” Francis said.

The village could talk to the Vets Club and see if they would agree to add an additional cost when they sell banners to pay for those additional arms. The village is currently adding nine new metal light poles on Greenlawn Avenue, and there are already 10 on Progress Way.

“I told Wagner that all of these are on Main Streets, and there were discussions about going down Woodland Drive. I told him the intent is to keep them on the main road where lots of people walk and can see them.” Francis said.

Francis told Wagner it may be an option and he would brief council on it, but Francis advised him that he would like for Wagner himself and a couple others from the Vets Club to “come up and talk to them.”

“What is you plan? Let’s lay it all out and see if there is anything we can help with,” Francis said. “I am totally supportive of the program, but we have to know how many, who’s paying for it, and the business expenses.”

Francis said they had put some temporary banner arms up a couple of years ago when they took some light poles down for the hotel.

“We didn’t want any veteran to not be displayed, so we paid for some temporaries down on East Main Street,” Francis said.

He advised that even the temporary banner arms were roughly $60 to $75 a set. Francis said that “there is money in this project”, but he would like to see what the council and Vets Club can get figured out. He advised that this will be continued to be discussed in another meeting with the Vets Club, but he just wanted to make them aware of the matter.

Francis also advised council about a major concern he has regarding public safety and trucking.

“We were informed this morning that CSX intends to start replacing railroad ties through Versailles possibly the end of next week; the week of July 8th,” Francis said.

He advised that the work will shut down Olive Street, Steffin Street, Center Street, and West Street crossing while work takes places.

“I have been in contact with their detour contractor for months about this and have been requesting that they keep at least the N. Center Street or the N. West Street crossing open while work takes place, and then rotate crossings so that at least one truck-capable crossing is available for use,” Francis said.

CSX will be detouring all state route crossings outside of the village, but they do not plan to assist for local truck route detours in municipalities based on past projects.

“Additionally we have grave concerns regarding life/safety with the Fire/EMS Station being located on the north side of the tracks and no truck capable crossings available to them,” Francis said. “The Second Street crossing is supposed to stay open, but that is not easy to use for the larger fire trucks.”

Francis has reached out to ODOT and the Ohio Rail Commission, all of which have responded that they have no jurisdiction over CSX. Francis was asked if the village would be able to place a firetruck on the other side of the tracks, and he told them no.

“I said no we can’t. We don’t have a station on that side, I don’t have compressed air, I don’t have electric, their turn down here is at the station, and we are a volunteer fire department,” Francis said. “I said the largest fire department in Darke County is located on the other side of the tracks. We have other trucks in and out and there has to be a way to get in and out.”

Francis told them that there is no back-up way to get to Versailles. CSX will not talk to the village directly, so moving forward, Francis will call the district office with ODOT and to try and get hold of Warren Davidson’s Office.

“This is because the only entity that has any power over the railroad is the federal government.” Francis said. “I’m just really concerned that they will tear out all these crossings, we have an emergency on the other side of the tracks, and if the only crossing we have is second street, that is going to be a disaster.”

Francis said he has been “beating this one” for a couple of months and is concerned for public safety and the truck issues the village has already been facing. The railroad project is predicted to take two to three days.

“I just can’t get through to anybody right not,” Francis said.

The Versailles Village Council meets the second and fourth Wednesday of every month for their regular Council Meetings starting at 7 p.m. in the EMS Building located on Baker. These meetings are open and welcome to the public.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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