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Hebron still seeking administrator, fiscal officer

HEBRON – The Village of Hebron is seeking a village administrator and a fiscal officer. Applications are due before Monday, January 23.

This is the second round of applications to fill the administrator vacancy created when former Administrator Mike McFarland retired at the end of the year. Several internal candidates, including Mayor Clifford Mason, applied in the first round.

Mason told The Beacon, he was eliminated after being interviewed by council members. He said he was disappointed, but accepted their decision.

Council members proceeded to select their preferred candidate without consulting with the mayor. That led to a nearly two-hour long executive session at the Dec. 14 council meeting and ultimately a stalemate. Ohio law provides that the mayor appoint the village administrator. The administrator also reports to the mayor. Mason said he believed council’s choice didn’t have the necessary experience to do the job and declined to make the appointment.

First round candidates may reapply, but Mason will not, accepting council’s original decision. Mason is serving informally as the interim administrator. Six applications – all from outside the village – had been submitted by January 16.

Fiscal Officer Jessica Everson resigned at the end of the year to accept the same position at the Village of Frazeysburg. She had come to Hebron from Frazeysburg and that job is much closer to her home. Income Tax Administrator Mindy Kester and Community Development Coordinator Andie Myers are serving as co-interim fiscal officers. Kester has served as interim fiscal officer on two previous occasions but has not sought appointment to the post.

At Monday night’s combined committees meeting, Kurt Spence of Spence Environnmental reported that the northwest corner of High and Main streets is safe for use as a park. The Phase 2 environmental assessment found some petroleum contaminated soil, but no free product. That soil could be removed and disposed at a Columbus facility for $20 per ton plus trucking, but Spence didn’t think that was necessary for the proposed use.

He said the concentrations would decline over time as the petroleum products present in the soil volatilize into the air. The Evans Foundation had earlier agreed to purchase the property from the Ferris Family of Dover/ New Philadelphia, Ohio, for use as a park for the village., subject to an environmental assessment. The same family also owns the buildings formerly occupied by Bowman Chevrolet.

Several council members asked Spence to summarize his “safe for park use” recommendation in writing. Village officials hope his report will convince the foundation to move ahead with the purchase.

Kester and Myers presented a revised 2012 budget to council. An earlier version showed a deficit but it had not included the carryover balances from 2011. This one also pushed back the purchase of a $60,000 Bobcat for the street department. Council members plan to hear the first reading at their Jan. 25 meeting. They will hold it for all three readings to give residents plenty of time to comment. The budget must be approved and forwarded to the county auditor by April 1.

Council member Jim Friend, reporting for the fire station work group, said final detailed cost estimates have been promised by the end of the month. Mason said soil test results won’t derail plans to build on to the north end of the current fire station. A few pockets of soil may have to be removed or compacted, Mason said, but soil won’t significantly affect the construction project. Council members expect to begin discussing costs and how to pay for the project at their Feb. 8 council meeting.

Mason said he was surprised to recently learn that the water department works from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The issue arose when a shut-off water customer paid a bill just after 4 p.m. and was told his water wouldn’t be turned back on until the following day. Mason said someone should be available to turn water back on up to 5 p.m. administrative office closing.

Administrative assistant Linda Nicodemus reviewed the quarterly and annual reports from the water and wastewater treatment plants. The water plant is producing 17 percent more water than meters indicate is being sold. Part of that “lost” water is used in the non-metered village buildings, but quite a bit is thought to be lost through leaks in water lines. Water Superintendent Charlie Gray plans to upgrade some key water valves this year and to meter village use. Plans are being made to install radio-read meters system-wide. Such meters would allow leaks or other abnormal usage to be reported much more quickly.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in the municipal complex.

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