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City Council announces free bus rides on Election Day

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Athens City Council began Monday’s meeting, Election Day eve, with discussion of how transportation organizations are helping voters get to the polls. 

President Chris Knisley announced that HAPCAP (Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action) is offering free transit on Election Day. This includes Athens buses and Athens On Demand transit.  

Councilmember Sam Crowl added that Spin, the e-scooter company, is offering free rides to voters to get to the polls.

Councilmember Beth Clodfelter reminded Athens residents voting opens on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 7:30 p.m. She added that Nov. 1 was the deadline to mail absentee ballots and that voters now should either place their mail-in ballots in a dropbox or vote in person at the polls at their regular polling place. 

“Left-hand turns from Union Street onto Court Street tomorrow will be banned past six o’clock [p.m.] for anyone who is not an election worker,” Clodfelter said. 

Those who plan to utilize the dropbox outside the Athens County Board of Elections on Court Street are advised to do so before 6 p.m. or to walk to the location. 

City Council also passed an ordinance that would change the current requirement that impounding lots must be located within the city, tying them to a five-mile radius around the city.

Councilmember Beth Clodfelter said a great deal of towing occurs at night when Athens residents are out at parties or bars and public transportation services, such as Athens On Demand runs until  7:30 p.m.

“I really would worry about people who, for some reason or another, felt they had to go get their car that night, either getting a ride with someone who was intoxicated or trying to walk on dark roads for miles at night,” Clodfelter stated.

In response to Clodfelter’s concerns, Councilmember Arian Smedly said there are stock cab companies in Athens along with services such as Lyft that individuals facing this issue can utilize. 

The council also discussed that two of the three towing services in Athens are not open 24 hours and therefore inaccessible to those seeking to retrieve their car late in the afternoon.

An ordinance on the 24-hour parking limitations was unanimously suspended, permitting continuous parking in the same location starting on Dec. 13, 2020, through Jan. 5, 2021. This suspension allows residents to not worry about their vehicles being towed during the holiday season.

Councilmembers also unanimously passed a resolution to encourage the imposition of a carbon fee on the producers and importers of fuels that emit greenhouse gases, incentivizing the use of alternative energies. 

The resolution urges United States Congress representatives to enact the fee into law by requiring the City Council send copies of the legislation to the president, vice president, Gov. DeWine, Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Bill Johson, and State Sens. Frank Hoagland and Jay Edwards.

“There’s an overwhelming majority of residents who oppose climate threatening practices within the city of Athens,” Knisely said. “The city of Athens has experienced steadily increasing numbers of heavy rainfall events over the past decade, and this has caused localized flooding and landslides”

Mayor Steve Patterson concluded discussion of the proposal by stating: “It’s our commitment to make sure that we are leaving behind an environment that is better than we took it on as citizens.”

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