MOUNT VERNON — An assistant superintendent position created by the city has been filled.

Mount Vernon Utilities Superintendent Mathias Orndorf reported that Ken Griffith was hired as assistant director of public utilities, having started Monday. Orndorf said Griffith is basically learning everything he does as supervisor.

“We’re still kind of defining the position,” Orndorf said. “There’s going to be a learning process, it will be a flexible position.”

Griffith comes to the city from Del-Co Water and holds Ohio EPA certifications for operations in water and wastewater.

Griffith had a busy first day. Flushing the new water line for Yellow Jacket Drive caused pressure to drop in some areas, necessitating a boil advisory. At about the same time, a 4-inch main had a break on Ames Street.

Griffith also attended training for the city’s new water/sewer line camera. The training went well, Griffith said, and a few city workers have been designated as operators.

The camera will be put to use immediately to investigate water infiltration issues in the city’s system. Orndorf said his department is seeing increased water infiltration, but is not sure where it is coming in from.

Infiltration issues cause problems because it introduces surface water into the wastewater plant. The water does not need to be treated, but because it is coming in through the lines, it gets treated anyway, at expense to the city.

Orndorf further reported that tests with cerium chloride to bring down phosphorus levels in the water were unsuccessful. Orndorf said they will try tests with other chemicals.

The Yellow Jacket Drive line has passed bacteriological tests and is ready to be hooked up, Orndorf said.


Street Superintendent Tom Hinkle said New Gambier Road will be closed starting at 6 a.m. Monday and Tuesday for ditch work. The city is doing ditching work, and the road is too narrow to allow for both city equipment and one lane traffic.

The early morning start time is due to problems when New Gambier Road’s chip and seal surface, which was recently installed, gets too hot. The tar-like substance that holds the road surface material gets too hot and softens to the point where the city’s heavy equipment has started peeling away at the road, Hinkle said.

The road will stay closed as long as the surface does not get too hot and crews can work, Hinkle said.

Hinkle further reported that alley asphalt patching is continuing. The city has used 245 tons of asphalt so far this year, which is ahead of last year. Hinkle said there have been more repairs due to the hard winter and excessive rain. The bill so far for asphalt has been around $14,000, he said.

The asphalt is trucked around the streets in a “buggy” that holds four tons. Every time the buggy needs refilled — which may be from one to three times per day — it is hauled to an asphalt plant in-county, then hauled back to the job site.

Hinkle said the city was able to use hot mix this winter due to a plant being open in Columbus.

Ordinarily, cold mix patch is only available during winter because most asphalt plants operate during the warmer months, during paving season.

Hinkle said he prefers to use hot mix year-round because cold mix usually does not last, especially in shallow potholes. The hot mix does cost a little more, Hinkle said.

The rain has further caused problems with sinkholes. Hinkle reported that a catch basin was rebuilt at Sychar Road and East Burgess Street where the wall caved in and water running through it created a sinkhole. Further sinkholes that will have to be addressed include at catch basins on Fairgrounds Road and Deer Run Court and a leaking stormwater line on Taylor Road.

The city has started putting up frames for new welcome signs. Frames have gone up on the south end of town on Ohio 13, Ohio 586 and South Main Street.

The South Main Street frame will have to be relocated. A communications company line was hit as holes were being bored, Hinkle said.


City Engineer Brian Ball reported that bids are in for the Newark Road/Blackjack Road sidewalk project.

The lowest bidder is Smith Paving & Excavating, Inc., at $1,073,192.25. The two other bids were from Trucco Construction Co., Inc, at $1,093,482.50, and G.E. Baker Construction, Inc. at $1,125,996.

All bids are above the project’s engineer’s estimate of $1.03 million. Ball said the city has $1.1 million for the project, however.

The project will replace sidewalks on Newark Road from Snyder Funeral Home to Melick Street to the on the west side, and new, six feet wide sidewalks from Melick Street on to the end of the project. The project turns down Blackjack Road toward the industrial park.

The six feet wide sidewalks will be open to bicycle traffic as well as pedestrian and motorized/non-motorized wheelchairs.

McKenzie Street was upgraded to a new surface, rather than just covering excavations from installation of a new water line as planned. The roadway was damaged more than expected during the line installation, Ball said, so the street got a one and a half inch top coat of asphalt.

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Nick Sabo: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter,