McLaughlin and Vogel work together to delineate responsibilities

This week, the Ocean View Town Council discussed the progress of the delineation of administrative responsibilities between Town Manager Dianne Vogel and Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin.

“We asked them about four months ago to come up with a document that would define administrative responsibilities. I think they have done that,” said Mayor Gordon Wood.

Vogel and McLaughlin created “an initial framework” using the town charter, personnel manual, employment contracts and one police policy.

“The chief and I spent several meetings to go over what was actually in existence and to see where we think the administrative tasks need to be added, changed and, in some cases, deleted,” said Vogel.

The suggested changes were laid out in a six-page document presented to the council and will include a future change in the terms of McLaughlin’s employment contract.

“As chief of police, employee shall be the chief executive officer of the Police Department of the Town of Ocean View and shall be under the direction and supervision of the town manager for administrative matters… Employee shall be responsible for overseeing and directing all activities of the Police Department employees.”

The council said they were happy with Vogel and McLaughlin’s work over the last four months.

“I’m personally very proud of this. I have been mayor for five and a half years, and I feel this is the most significant accomplishment,” said Wood. “We have now moved into an era where we have an honest-to-goodness real town-manager government… I suspect my colleagues are proud of it, and I know I am.”

“It is delightful to see a circumstance where we in council lay a task on our town manager and, lo and behold, there is documentation of cooperation and solid professional staff work. It is extraordinary, and it’s delightful to experience,” said Councilman Bob Lawless. “We’re laying a framework not for the individuals and personalities that we have today but for circumstances three or four generations to come.”

As all the documents will need to be changed over time, through amendments or new contracts, the council requested that the two proceed now in their work with the proposed changes in effect. Both agreed to do so.

“The spirit of the council’s wishes is in place, and I think it has been in place for more than a few months now,” said McLaughlin. “I think the town manager and myself were aware of the council’s wishes as far as our relationship. We are conducting business accordingly.”

Resident Steve Cobb asked the council if there would be a way to reduce the hours of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire alarm on Central Avenue.

“They have reduced their hours already,” he said. “I’d like the council to take a look to see if there can be a further reduction. Sometimes, the siren seems to be antiquated. I think there are faster ways, better ways, more 21st century ways.”

Currently, the alarm may be used between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. Cobb said he’s an avid supporter of the police and fire departments and doesn’t believe that the alarm should be eliminated completely.

Wood asked Cobb what hours he felt would be good and said he would discuss the request with the fire department.

“I don’t know… I wouldn’t want to hinder the response in any way,” responded Cobb.

McLaughlin said that, as a member of the fire department, he often relies on the alarm to know that he needs to report to the station, rather than relying on a cell phone notification.

“It’s activated by the callboard, the 911-dispatch center, and I can tell you there is a delay. There have been plenty of times where I’ve heard the siren and I’m almost to the fire company before I get the alert on my cell phone. In fact, I’ve had it where I’m actually getting out of the truck and I get it.”

He added that there can be delays with cell phones and Internet connections, to the point where he felt it would be prudent to continue to use the siren.

“Sometimes it’s only a momentary delay. But when you’re talking about two or three minutes, that can be a big difference in some cases,” he said.

“And one other thing I wanted to add — the repeated alarms, even after you see the fire truck go out — that’s normally a manpower request. We’re saying we’ve got a crew of four or five on one engine, but this is a bigger call than we anticipated and we need more help. It’s basically a call for additional assistance.”

Cobb said he was appreciative of the council for agreeing to discuss it with the fire department.

In other town news:

• Town Administrative Official Charles McMullen said that he had met with the town engineer and contractor regarding the recent street rehabilitation project and complaints made by the public.

“We met yesterday with the contractor on-site. He was advised there was no excuse for the asphalt that is in the gutter pans or the aggregate that is loose on the streets,” said McMullen. “He has indicated that he will be down here next week with a crew using grinders with steel wire brush wheels to grind the asphalt off the gutter pans and come in a sweeper to remove the aggregate from the roadway and even under the trees that are overhanging too low for the machine to get underneath of it.”

McMullen said the contractor was aware that the work needs to be done expeditiously and that payment will not be released until the prior work is corrected.

John Mesher, a member of the Bear Trap homeowners’ association’s board of directors, thanked McMullen and the council for working so quickly to correct the problem.

“We’re very satisfied, as a board, by the reaction we got,” he said.

• Vogel reported that Ocean View display of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit “The Way We Worked” was the most successful in the entire state of Delaware.

“Attendance in Ocean View equaled the total combined attendance of all the other three venues it was held in,” she said. “Since the event was so successful and a very enjoyable experience to collaborate with the other towns, we plan to meet again in September to plan another project our towns can work together on.”

• The council voted 3-0 to approve the new Mediacom franchise agreement. The seven-year agreement establishes customer service standards, free services available to community facilities, and educational and government channel availability, as well as reporting requirements for Mediacom.

• A Concert in the Park will be held on Friday, Aug. 16, at 6 pm., with Buddy Holly tribute band “Oh, Boy!” performing in John West Park.