The Village of West Jefferson is getting closer to hiring a public service director to succeed Harold Walker Jr. who retires at the end of November.
A resolution to confirm Mayor Darlene Steeles choice was on an early version of the agenda for the Oct.15 council meeting but not on the final agenda.
Councilman Ron Garver said council members did not have a chance to study the resumés of the finalists. Steele had pared the applications from 34 to the seven candidates she interviewed.
Randy Otis, who serves as chair of councils Public Services Committee, questioned why he wasnt involved in the selection process after he asked to be involved.
Steele said she wanted to make a decision so the person could give a two-week notice to his employer and spend a month with Walker to transition into the job. She said Otis was out of town when she was doing much of the selection work.
“Thats no excuse, mayor, Otis said.
Steele said she interviewed one candidate on Oct. 7, five on Oct. 12 and one on Oct. 15.
Steeles choice for public service director is David Metzger, street superintendent for Reynoldsburg, a suburb on the east side of Columbus. Steele said she hopes to have the issue resolved so the resolution can be brought up for a vote at the Nov. 5 meeting.
Public records access
Council adopted a policy that outlines how public records are kept, how citizens can access them and what copies of the records cost.
The policy, which falls in line with state law, sets a fee for copying, whether the records are copied onto paper or electronically onto a disk. If records are to be mailed, a charge for postage and mailing supplies is added.
Council rejected a related proposal that called for giving Elizabeth Hymiller, a part-time employee, more hours through the end of the year to organize the records. Hymiller works 15 hours a week as the villages administrative assistant. The proposal called for making her job full-time through the end of the year.
“I cant justify it, said councilwoman Sheila Nelson.I cant justify it to the village or to the residents.
Garver also objected, saying,I cant see it for just 10 weeks.
The idea was for Hymiller to work full-time to get the records caught up, then go back to part-time in January, at which time department heads would take over their own records work.
“I dont think a full-time employee is needed, Garver said.We just made the tax department part-time; why do we need a full-time administrative assistant?
Otis joined councilman Cory Coburn, Garver and Nelson in voting down the proposal.
Police legislation approved
Council approved an ordinance that outlines how evidence is to be handled in the Police Department property room and who can handle it. Council also approved an ordinance that serts rules for disbursement of property when it is no longer needed in court proceedings.
Police Lt. Gary McNeal thanked council members for their action.
“It will help make my work easier, he said.
Employee handbook being readied
A new employee handbook that covers village employees and police employees is nearing completion.
“Weve been working on it for six to seven months, said Coburn, who chairs councils Employees Benefits Committee.
Coburn sought to squelch rumors that council was planning to cut benefits.
“Were trying to make all employees equal and follow the same rules, he said.There has been no discussion of cutting any benefits.
“If anything, they are getting more benefits, said Otis, also a member of the committee.
This rumor is all uncalled for, Coburn said.It must stop immediately.
Meetings of the Employee Benefits Committee, as well as other committee or council meetings, are open to the public.
“We never kept anyone out of meetings, Coburn said.To say were not involving people is absurd.
Coburn said he hopes to have the revised handbook ready for councils approval in November.
Good Neighbor nominees sought
Councilman Steve Johnston, chairman of the Special Events Committee, said the village is looking for more nominees for the Good Neighbor Award. Residents can submit nominees to the Water Department.
“I got one in the other day, said Emilia Jackson, clerk of council.
Garver said that with leaf-raking time and soon to be snow-clearing time, nominations should be coming in. The award recognizes good deeds done by residents in the community.
While the number of nominations dropped off after the weather improved last spring, there are many other times of the year that West Jefferson residents can offer assistance to neighbors in need.
Council generally honors one award recipient per month.
Mayors Thanksgiving Dinner
With the holidays approaching, West Jefferson Mayor Darlene Steele is preparing for her annual Thanksgiving community dinner.
This years event will take place at 1 p.m. Nov. 10 at First Baptist Church. The meal will include turkey and all of the trimmings, complete with sweet potato pie.
The meal is open to anyone who will be alone at the holidays.
“I consider myself lucky, Steele said.My family lives here in West Jefferson. If they didnt, I wouldnt have any place to go for the holidays.
Anyone who wishes to attend the dinner is asked to call the West Jefferson Water Department at (614) 879-8655 to register.
Steele will purchase the food. Jan Phillips at First Baptist Church is in charge of preparations. Steele will accept monetary donations to benefit the church.