HEBRON – Ralph C. Wise will become Hebron’s fourth village administrator on Oct. 1.
He comes on board just two weeks shy of a year after Mike McFarland told council members that he intended to retire at the end of 2011. McFarland held the post for 10 years.
The process to replace McFarland took much longer than expected and left some hard feelings. Some of the wounds were evident Sept. 12 when three council members – Pam DeVaul, Jim Friend and Scott Walters – voted “no” on the resolution authorizing the appointment of Wise. Mason broke the 3-3 tie and council members then unanimously authorized the mayor and fiscal officer to enter into a contract with Wise.
Mason applied for the position when it was first advertised last year, but failed to get a majority of council to support him. Later a majority of council favored promoting a current employee to the post, but couldn’t get Mason’s concurrence which was required since the mayor is the appointing officer. Two candidates that passed both council’s and Mason’s muster were rejected after background checks were completed.
Wise is moving 927 miles down the road. He is currently city manager of Russell, Kansas. US 40 runs through the 4,500 population city that’s just off I-70. The Ohio native has spent 4-1/2 years at Russell. His responsibilities there are much more extensive than he will have in Hebron. In addition to his Hebron responsibilities, Wise oversaw an electric generating plant/distribution system, fire/police/9-1-1 dispatch and a municipal airport, cultural arts center, golf course and swimming pool.
Earlier, he was a manager in the unified government for Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County. Wise also served five years as Director of Public Service and Safety for the City of Fosteria, Ohio. The move back to Ohio is attractive because he has family members living in Pickerington.
In other business at the Sept. 12 council meeting, council members unanimously approved preliminary plans for the federally funded $700,000 South High Street Sidewalk Enhancement project.
The new and in some places enhanced sidewalk starts at the Chestnut Lane entrance to the Lake Forest subdivision and heads north to Main Street. The five foot wide sidewalk runs on the east side of South High Street in front of Lake Forest then crosses to the west side of the street until it cuts through Canal Park to reach Main Street. Two existing foot bridges in Canal Park will be replaced. The project will include decorative lighting.
Council President Annelle Porter questioned having to cross South High Street.
“The east side was studied,” Mason told her. “It was decided that the west side would be more accommodating.”
With council’s approval, the preliminary plans go to ODOT. Environmental review is expected to take a year. It is currently scheduled as a 2015 construction project by ODOT.
Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance to establish an exterior property maintenance code. The issue was not discussed.
Police Chief Jim Dean reported that the department got 100 percent on its most recent three-year update with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. An outside assessor reviews 112 standards.
“It’s no easy feat,” Mason said. “We are the smallest police agency in Ohio to be recognized by CALEA.”
Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the municipal complex.