(Posted Feb. 21, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Mount Sterling village council filled two of three vacant council seats at a special meeting on Feb. 19. The third seat could be filled at council’s next regular meeting on Feb. 25.
Between Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, Rebecca Burns, Tammy Vansickle and Tom Ward resigned from the six-member council. By Ohio Revised Code, it is up to the remaining council members to appoint replacements within 30 days of receiving resignations.
The remaining members–Lowell Anderson, Becky Martin and David Timmons–put a call out for anyone interested in filling the seats. According to Martin, 12 people expressed interest leading up to the special meeting on Feb. 19. The three sitting council members interviewed all of the candidates over the course of three meetings. They selected two from the pool of candidates to fill two of the seats and opted to continue accepting resumés through Feb. 22 in pursuit of filling the third vacant seat.
The two new council members are Michael Bennett and Craig Hix. Mayor Billy Martin administered the oath of office for both at the start of the special meeting. He noted that he had only known the men by sight before meeting them during interviews.
“I think we have two individuals who are going to work hard for this community,” the mayor said. To Bennett and Hix, he commented, “There’s going to be some tough decisions in the future, but I’m sure you guys are up to making those decisions rather than causing havoc that we’ve experienced in the past.”
Bennett is a 15-year resident of the village and formerly owned a home décor shop in town. He is retired from the Ohio Department of Corrections, having worked as a correctional captain at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient. He currently works at Home Depot.
“I want to make a difference,” Bennett said of his reason for expressing interest in serving on council.
He has volunteered with a group of business owners and citizens known as the Market Crew to put on events designed to bring people to downtown Mount Sterling.
“We have a lot of empty storefronts I want to see filled. I’d like to see our downtown area improve,” he said.
As for what he brings to the council table, Bennett said, “Good common sense.”
Hix is a 29-year resident of Mount Sterling. He retired six year ago as a machinist at Armaly Brands in London following a 43-year career with the company. He and his wife raised three daughters who all graduated from Madison-Plains Local Schools. He currently volunteers as a courtesy cart driver at Madison Health in London.
“I plan to stay living here for a long time, so I want to see the village improve and get better,” Hix said of his decision to apply for one of the vacant council seats.
He said he’d like to see a grocery store back in town, adding that it would help to attract more residents.
Bennett and Hix will serve out the remainder of the unexpired terms, as will the third appointee. All of the seats that were vacated expire on Dec. 31, 2021.
About the initial pool of applicants, council member Becky Martin said she was impressed with the amount of interest. As for what stood out about Bennett and Hix, she said, “Their demeanor, level-headedness and sense of pride in the community.”