Garrie Ritchie is pictured doing what he does best — helping. Ritchie was an integral asset to making the Christmas in the Solar City festival the success that it was.

The North Vernon City Council met on Monday for their last official meeting of 2021, as one item on the agenda was the traditional cancellation of the last meeting, which would have taken place on Monday, December 27. The City will be celebrating Christmas that day, and thus all City departments will be closed.

Most of the other items on the agenda did not take much time to discuss. The Town of Vernon requested use of the City’s stage for their Sassafras Tea Festival next April, which was approved by the Council.

Work on the new North Vernon Main Street building located on Stellar Plaza in downtown North Vernon is scheduled to begin in the near future, likely to take three months to complete.

The Council approved the Notice of Award regarding the O’Mara bid for the Walnut Street project, which means the City and the contractor can now enter into a contract to begin the process of ordering materials and securing equipment to complete the project.

The City street and sewer departments are seeing some turnover due to recent unforeseen circumstances.

Both the current street superintendent, Rick Marksberry, and the assistant superintendent, Melvin Marksberry, are recovering from various health issues. Although all at the City are hoping and praying they both recover and make it back to work, it is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

In which case, a new street superintendent is needed. This position is a mayoral appointment and so Mayor Mike Ochs has decided to appoint Garrie Ritchie to fill the role. Garrie has been an employee with the City’s sewer utility department since 2016. It was made clear at the meeting that Garrie’s appointment will come at the expense of the sewer department, as Garrie has a Class 2 operator’s license and CDL and was one of the sewer department’s best employees, but he is the also best choice to take on the responsibilities of the street superintendent. More hired hands are greatly needed at both the street and sewer departments.

Rick Marksberry requested the use of the paid time off that is owed to him, which means the mayor will have to rename him superintendent come 2022, and then Garrie will be named interim superintendent until March when Marksberry officially relinquishes his position. Garrie also requested that his salary be increased to $60,000, which the Council agreed to.

“When Russell [Vaught] hired Garrie a few years back,” said Councilman Brian Hatfield, “we didn’t realize what a valuable asset he would be to the City when we first hired him, that he can do anything. I think he’ll do very well at this position.”

Anyone who would like to send well wishes to either Rick and/or Melvin Marksberry may send them to 143 East Walnut Street in North Vernon and someone there will make sure they get delivered.