By: Bill O’Connell
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Personnel and employment issues were the prevailing theme of the evening at Swanton’s Village Council meeting called to order by Mayor Ann Roth on Monday, 4/11/16 at 7:00 PM. All council members were present as well as the village’s administrator, director of finance and the clerk treasurer. Soon after the minutes of the previous meeting were approved and several committee reports were given, the council went into an executive session to discuss the personnel issues.
The council reconvened at 7:46 PM and the personnel and employment issue were discussed mainly during Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle’s report beginning with the circumstances created due to the recent passing of Water Treatment Plant operator Mike Forche. First of all, the council agreed to pay out the approximately 144 hours of sick pay Mr. Forche had accrued. Secondly, the council also agreed to extend the contract of part-time Water Treatment Plant operator Rick Schantz to May 13, 2016 and, possibly, to May 27, 2016 if needed.
This will allow Superintendent Brian Hildebrand to spend time training the replacement employee when they are hired.
Several Swanton Police Department(SPD) matters were then addressed. Ms. Hoelzle worked with SPD Chief Adam Berg in updating the job description for the SPD Patrolman position. Council members were given copies of the updated version and voted unanimously to approve.
Patrolman Anthony Bernal submitted a letter of resignation effective April 15, 2016 but will continue his part-time employment the Swanton Fire Department.
To fill the vacancy created by Patrolman Bernal Chief Berg recommended the promotion of part-time Patrolman Lee Kusz to full-time status. Patrolman Kusz is a 2007 graduate of Swanton High School and received his law enforcement education and training from Owens Community College. The council voted 6-0 to accept the resignation and approve the promotion. Patrolman Kusz will assume full-time duties effective on April 17, 2016 with a starting wage of $14.25 per hour.
Ms. Hoelzle also reported that the Village will slowly work on employee compensation agreements for all employees over the next year. The agreements, which are not considered contracts, will explicitly state compensation and any scheduling restrictions. One such agreement for Benjamin Steiner for full-time public service and part-time fire department was presented to council for approval. Council approved with four yeses, one no and one abstention.
Council was also asked to approve a request from Heidi Kern, Executive Director of the Fulton County Habitat for Humanity, to waive the water and sewer tap fees totaling $2,450 for a dwelling to be built at 121 Basset Street. It will be the first house built by Habitat for Humanity in Swanton. The motion was approved with five yeses and one abstention.
Mayor Roth gave her report that was highlighted by details on her meeting with Congressman Robert Latta. They discussed impending federal legislation concerning the rising popularity of drones and the need to regulate their use. Copies of the proposed legislation was given to council members.
“A large portion of our conversation centered around EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issues. Just letting him know the difficulties we have,” related Mayor Roth. “He said it’s the most frequented subject where ever he goes, it’s continuously the water and waste water (quality issues).”
The mayor expressed her concern about the next generation acquiring the education to fill environmentally related positions needed to maintain water quality. She, along with Administrator Hoelzle, are considering approaching the local schools with a presentation that will encourage students to pursue a career in this field.
Another topic that was discussed with Mr. Latta was the possibility of removing the federal, state, and local tax liens from the properties at 113 and 115 N. Main Street where two buildings were razed last year. Currently, talks are under way with the Fulton County Commissioners and the Internal Revenue Service with the expressed final goal of having someone purchase the properties for future development.
During a recent Mayor’s Meeting that was attended by Sherriff Roy Miller of Fulton County and representatives of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Mayor Roth asked a heavily involved Sherriff’s deputy about the relationship he had with the Swanton Police Department during drug investigations. “He highly praised the Swanton Police Department for not only their cooperation with him but with DEA agents and other county agencies as well,” said Roth. “He felt our department was quite proactive in educating themselves about the drug issues, especially heroin. That was good to know.”
Lastly, Mayor Roth reported that a full-time paramedic, Laurie Ward had submitted her resignation after twenty-five years of service with the Swanton Fire Department. The resignation will be effective on April 30, 2016 and the opening will soon be posted. The meeting adjourned at 8:20 PM.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at