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Three new police officers sworn in, TOPSS annual report presented at city council

At Oxford city council’s May 7 meeting, Oxford police officers were sworn in, Talawanda Oxford Pantry & Social Services (TOPSS) presented their data from 2023 and a new parking meter system was announced.

Three new police officers, Austin Lovins, Bo Staat and Jeremiah South were sworn in with friends and family in the audience.The officers pledged to uphold their duties without corruption, in the interest of "peace, safety and welfare," to the city of Oxford.

“This is one of our favorite days,” William Snavely, Oxford mayor, said.

The 2024 TOPSS annual report was presented to the council by Board Chair Suzy Hummel and Executive Director Sherry Martin, highlighting their work helping Oxford members in poverty. The report also announced the merger of the Family Resource Center. The organization was awarded American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to build a campus.

The 2024 plan for TOPSS includes reducing bureaucratic overhead by combining into one organization. They hope to break ground on the new building by this fall or next spring at the latest. Looking ahead to 2025 and beyond, TOPSS plans to increase its presence in the community and use its space for other organizations that can help community members.

“We want to be present and we want to be visible in the community,” Martin said. 

 The organization called for donations, including grocery bags, used shoes, monetary contributions and volunteers.

A resolution was entered to authorize the renewal of Passport, Inc. to manage the Parking Unit of the OPD.  

Other resolutions adopted included the hiring of Medicount Management for 5.5% of emergency medical service costs, and NextStep Networking for IT services at a cost of $99,996. Assistant city manager Jessica Greene said that hiring NextStep Networking is far cheaper than hiring their own IT staff. Parkson Corporation was also adopted for swapping filtration systems at a cost of $100,995, a three-day job. 

An electrical easement was approved, with city manager Doug Elliott suggesting elimination of the second reading to save two weeks from a six-week process. This was approved, and the first and second readings were both approved.

An amendment to sidewalk use was also discussed, requiring five feet of open and unobstructed sidewalk, and no merchandise on the sidewalk when the store is closed. Bertie Wespiser, owner of Birdhouse antique shop, expressed concern over the amendment.

“My business has doubled since I put things outside,” Wespiser said.

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Bracken agreed that the vibrance of sidewalks should not be completely eliminated, but pointed out safety issues with tipped over pumps recently and leaving items such as ladders unattended. The amendment will be up for a second reading at the next city council meeting.

Council will meet again on Tuesday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the Oxford Courthouse.