Cambridge City is getting tougher on blight.

Council members amended penalties for litter control violations at their June 12 meeting. Owners now will pay $100 for the first violation and $200 if they commit a second violation within two years.

The town didn’t have to seek bids to demolish the unsafe home at 140 S. Fourth St. as discussed at May’s meeting because someone volunteered to tear it down, saving the town money. As of the meeting, demolition had been completed but the debris remained.

In addition, Ken Risch notified the owner of 502 E. Main St. about a $100 fine that could increase to $2,500 if the property isn’t cleaned.

And, town officials noted that residents had submitted complaints about groundhogs and potentially unsafe buildings at 411 and 415 W. Front St., which share an owner. After the property is examined, the owner will be notified about the findings.

Cambridge City Clerk-Treasurer Sherry Ervin swears in new police officer Jason Abbitt, who started work June 9. Supplied

In other business

  • With help from attorney Bob Bever, Councilor Jeff Mardis and Clerk-Treasurer Sherry Ervin further reviewed what the town charges to send bills to Western Wayne Regional Sewage District customers. They continued their discussion after the council’s May meeting. The council approved their recommended 15% increase effective Jan. 1 for higher costs for postage, wages and other expenses.
  • Police Chief Richard Roberts announced Jason Abbitt started his role as an officer June 9. Abbitt comes to Cambridge City Police Department from the South Dakota Highway Patrol and was previously a patrol sergeant for Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
  • The council amended an ordinance regarding alcoholic beverages in parks. Organizations may apply to council for temporary permits allowing licensed caterers to sell beer and wine at special events in Creitz Park such as Cambridge City Main Street’s June 24 concert. Jeff Mardis cast the lone no vote. Bever said if it doesn’t work well, future requests can be denied.
  • A brainstorming meeting was to take place June 14 involving town officials and Wayne County tourism leaders. They were to discuss potential activities and preparations for expected visitors during the April 2024 solar eclipse.
  • The council allocated $3,000 of the nonrestricted opioid fund for police to buy a heat sealer for evidence and $1,000 for K-9 Jessie’s vaccinations and vet visits.
  • Fire Chief Jeff Gabbard received approval to buy a new stove and two refrigerators for the fire station (up to $5,000), funded by donations received from the town’s drive-thru Christmas lights display.
  • The council approved donations of $1,000 from SugarCreek and $100 each from Leisure Family Corp. and Sharon Page (for Owen Rhea) for the fire department’s July 2 car show.
  • Current Riverside Cemetery lot owners are sought to join its board. Those interested should contact town hall.
  • *An executive session was to take place June 20 to discuss further litigation.
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A version of this article appeared in the June 28 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.