Police officers honored at council meeting

Officers James Irish (left) and Gary Rouse were honored at the Nov. 23 Village of Oxford Council meeting. The officers used Tasers to subdue a suicidal (and potentially homicidal) citizen in crisis on the night of Oct. 21. The citizen was transported to a hospital following the incident.

By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Village Council of Oxford held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 23. With all council members in attendance, topics of discussion included awarding grant funds, rental inspections and filling vacancies on several boards.

Officers Honored
Oxford Village Police officers James Irish and Gary Rouse were honored for resolving a situation with a person who was threatening to kill herself.
“The officer’s job is tough as it is, and we have to make decisions [snaps] that fast,” Micheal Solwold, chief of the Oxford Village Police, said. “Just when you think you’ve run into anything, there’s something different … Upon arrival on Oct. 21, 2021, a citizen in crisis stood bloody with a knife in her hand and was not compliant with verbal commands to drop the knife. Officer Rouse and Officer Irish used the proper restraint and use of force to get the person under control to get them to the hospital to get them the care they needed.”
The officers used Tasers to subdue the person, making contact twice due to the first set of prongs failing to work as intended.

Rental Inspection Discussion
The council spent a great deal of time discussing an ordinance for long-term residential rental inspections. After speaking with the village’s attorney Robert Davis and representatives from McKenna and Associates, Village Manager Joe Madore presented the council with a sample list of inspection criteria and a roadmap on how a rental inspection program could be implemented.
The primary idea of the inspections is to make sure rental spaces are safe and up to code, not to have “the fire chief somehow become the arbiter of the paint colors,” as Davis put it. To that end the council was receptive to the inspection idea, though the inspection criteria as presented was seen as too overbearing by some on the council.
Another point of discussion involved who is responsible for ordering and paying for an inspection. Councilmember Lori Bourgeau wanted a system in place to allow tenants to call for an inspection, with Davis mentioning economic factors might discourage tenants from doing so.
The council was interested in having the option of several different inspectors available rather than having McKenna as the sole inspector.
No vote was held on the plans presented, the council opting to have Madore and Davis work on a revised proposal ordinance with language regarding a rental registry and updated inspection criteria.

Community Development
Block Grant Discussion
The council voted to use $11,347 of the 2022 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds on two projects. $7,962 will be used to advance the village’s Removal of Architectural Barriers project to help bring the village’s offices into Americans With Disabilities Act compliance.
30% ($3,412) of the funds was set aside for local nonprofits. Two organizations, Love INC and the Haven emergency shelter, approached the council for the grant funding. Patricia Duke, Love INC Executive Director, attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of the organization during the opening public comment period.
“I like to call us a small but mighty nonprofit,” Duke said. “What we are is a center where folks can call in. A lot of our neighbors who call in are low income, and what we do is we give them a little bit of financial aid, but what we’re actually looking to do is help them transform their lives.”
The council voted unanimously to fund the Removal of Architectural Barriers and Love INC.

Second Readings
Two items were up for a second reading, both of which were approved unanimously.
The first was to remove the Village Charter from the Code of Ordinances. The second was to amend the Code of Ordinances to include updated stormwater engineering design language from the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner.
A public hearing was held for the stormwater engineering design language amendment, though nobody spoke up during that time.

Closing Bank Account
The council voted unanimously to close the village’s savings account with Grand Rapids-based Independent Bank. The account was opened in 2019 due to favorable conditions, which have since evaporated. $4,524 was moved from the account into an account with Oxford Bank, and Clerk/Treasurer Tere Onica seeked permission to close the account.

Closed Session
The meeting ended with a closed session for Village Manager Joe Madore’s annual evaluation. Onica was also up for evaluation, though was unable to attend the meeting due to possibly contracting COVID-19. Onica’s evaluation will be performed at a later meeting.

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