BRADFORD — A local pastor came forward during the Bradford Council meeting Thursday evening with concerns about churches being possible targets for mass shootings along with a request to increase the presence of law enforcement in the area on Sundays.
Dan Scalf, pastor of the Bradford Church of the Brethren, asked the council if they could look at the village’s contract with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office or request in some manner to have a deputy posted within the village on Sunday mornings during typical church hours, suggesting between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“With the heightened risk of shootings and mass shootings, churches are now becoming targets,” Scalf said. He said that his church was looking at their own security measures. “We are currently on the beginning grounds of figuring out ways to secure our building a little for our particular services and that includes discussing the possibility of having a resource officer on our campus during our Sunday services and as well as, like, vacation Bible school and things like that.”
Sheriff’s office deputies currently patrol the village at random times during the day. Council member Galen Balmert said that he did not see a problem with considering Scalf’s request to work with the sheriff, and council member Deb Warner also suggested that they could talk to the sheriff’s office.
“It’s not to say that they’re not here now,” council member Jeff Wirrig said.
Scalf expressed concern for his congregation and others, saying that there are between 300 and 400 people who congregate at churches in the area on Sundays.
Scalf said that if their church was able to get their own resource officer and the sheriff’s office was able to have someone posted in Bradford on Sunday mornings, “that would potentially put two deputies or first responders of that magnitude in our town in case something were to happen.”
Scalf went on to say, “The sad thing is that we even have to talk about it, but that’s where we’re at. It’s just that I don’t want to walk away at the end of the day and say I should have done something or we could have done something to maybe minimize the damage.”
Village Administrator Rick Looker suggested the idea of getting people together from the community — including members of council, Bradford schools, the Bradford Fire Department, and others — to put together plans of action should a shooting or another type of disaster were to happen. Looker said he would send out an email to see what kind of response he gets.
During Looker’s administrative report, he discussed how the village’s wastewater facilities are having difficulty removing phosphorus from their wastewater to the levels required by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Phosphorus is removed from water and wastewater discharges in order to help prevent nutrient enrichment in surface waters, which can lead to algae growth. According to the Ohio EPA, the “primary sources of nutrient pollution are runoff of fertilizers, animal manure, sewage treatment plant discharges, storm water runoff, car and power plant emissions, and failing septic tanks.”
On Jan. 11, the village went through an inspection process with the Ohio EPA, Looker said. He said that phosphorus was the main focus of that discussion.
“At this point … what they’re looking for is a compliance schedule,” Looker said.
Looker said that he spoke with a representative from U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson’s office and that he was planning to speak to State Sen. Bill Beagle at a later time to see what kind of leverage or support they have from their representatives and if other communities are also struggling with meeting Ohio EPA requirements.
Looker suggested that the Ohio EPA should provide some type of funding to help communities meet these requirements.
Looker said that the wastewater facilities had two ways of removing phosphorus: chemically and biologically. Their facilities are also seeing more success with their biological processes than with their chemical removal of phosphorus.
“We’re seeing a reduction coming into our plant biologically,” Looker said. “The concern is how much money can we physically throw at this to chemically fix this.”
Brice Schmitmeyer of Access Engineering was also present during the meeting and said that he will be consulting with other plant operators to see what they can do.
When it comes to meeting the requirements of the Ohio EPA, Looker said, “I would fully recommend to ask for legal advice.” He added, “If we could do it, we would be doing it.”