Oregon City Council thanks Bihn for her service

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Whether fighting a hazardous waste facility in Oregon, a proposed coke plant along the lakefront, Toledo Edison’s fish killing intake, or the toxic algal blooms in the lake, no one can doubt Sandy Bihn has been at the forefront fighting for issues near and dear to her during decades of public service as tax commissioner, finance director, and city councilwoman. Her last meeting as city councilwoman was Nov. 25. Her colleagues paid tribute to her many contributions over the years.
        “I’d like to thank Sandy Bihn for her years of service,” said Councilman Terry Reeves. “Thanks for your dedication to our citizens.”
        Councilman Tim Zale agreed.
        “Your services are well noted, Sandy. For your passion for what you did here, we thank you very much,” said Zale.
        “I’d like to express my thanks to Sandy’s hard work over the years,” said Councilman James Seaman. “Hopefully, she’ll stay in touch and help us with the issues.” Seaman noted her vast experience and expertise working to improve water quality in the lake. Bihn has been executive director of the Lake Erie Waterkeeper program for the last several years.
        “We need that kind of support because it’s our most important resource – that lake. And Sandy is a good waterkeeper,” said Seaman.
        Councilwoman Kathleen Pollauf thanked Bihn for her passion.
        “I always appreciated the fact that nothing intimidates you,” said Pollauf. “You have strong shoulders to ask the hard questions, and I appreciate that. You’re going to really be missed on council.
        Councilman Steve Hornyak agreed.
        “Thank you Sandy for your passion, your commitment, your service. It certainly has been a privilege to serve with you,” he said.
        “Sandy and I go back a long way,” said Mayor Mike Seferian, who served as a councilman alongside Bihn for many years before becoming mayor.
        “Some people don’t realize what went down in these council chambers at different times. They were very trying times sometimes. A lot happened. I don’t think I can put it into words what we endured at different times. But through it all, we had good times,” said Seferian.
        City Administrator Mike Beazley also thanked Bihn for her service.
        “I know you’re not going to disappear and continue to work on the issues,” he said.
        “I’d like to thank you for your years of service to the community,” said Council President Dennis Walendzak.  “You have a tremendous passion for what you believe in. You continue to push those who push against. Please come back and keep us updated on all the work that you’re doing.”
        Bihn thanked everyone for their comments.
        “There’s a lot of history in these halls,” said Bihn, “and a lot of memories, a lot of learning, a lot of growing and seasoning.”
        She said she was going to stay involved in the community.
        “I’m not moving out of town. I’m still here,” said Bihn. “I am still a part of our community. I intend to keep you informed and come to council once in a while.”
        She had a few regrets not being able to see some issues come to a conclusion.
        “One of my big regrets is in the fire department. We haven’t reached a consensus on the buildings. The age of the buildings warrants getting new ones – whether two or three. I think we need to focus on it and move it forward. I regret not being able to help more with that during my term.”
        Facility 3, a 500-acre site in Oregon that holds sediment dredged from the Toledo Shipping Channel, has also been an ongoing concern.
        “There’s no parcel number for that. Should there be? Are they paying income taxes when they are working on it? They should be. It’s owned by First Energy, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. It’s a 500 acre parcel in our water and in our community. I would like to get a better sense of what the city’s rights are with planning. I don’t know if we can zone it, or if there is any precedent for it. I think questions like this are important to ask now rather than waiting until things get more out of hand. So I offer that as something to follow up on. If you would share what you find with me, I would appreciate it,” said Bihn.
        She would also like to see funding in next year’s city budget to upgrade a gazebo in South Shore Park.
        “The one we have there now is nice. But a larger gazebo to get people to come to the waterfront would be nice. And I hope a boat ramp would also proceed in the budget. I do commit to helping with South Shore Park and the waterfront in Oregon.”
        A long time advocate for beautifying the city, Bihn also wished there were more amenities to showcase Oregon as motorists enter the city.
        “We didn’t get art and landscaping very far. There is no sign off I-280 like there is in Sandusky. It would be really nice to have a signature for our community. I think ODOT has relaxed some of their rules. I didn’t get to finish that. Maybe I can help with that in some way in the future. It would also be nice at Wheeling and Navarre. I think we lack art. I think the landscaping is very important to the character of our community and how we showcase ourselves. It would be inviting to the businesses we so much want to come in,” said Bihn.
        “Thanks to everyone. It’s been great working with you,” concluded Bihn. “I doubt I will come back (on council). But I never close the door entirely. I will be back here. Not in this capacity but in others. I look forward to working with all of you in the future.”


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