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Fairlawn Council remembers former finance director

8/15/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

The Aug. 12 Fairlawn City Council meeting began with a few moments of silence for former Finance Director Jerry Apple, who died July 26.

Fairlawn Mayor William Roth said Apple was first elected to Fairlawn City Council as an at-large member in 1995. He became finance director in 2004, a part-time elected position.

“He fought his cancer for well over a year, and he worked almost to the end. It was until only about three weeks before he passed, and then he really couldn’t perform the way he wanted to,” the mayor said. “He wanted it kept quiet; he didn’t want sympathy, and he wanted to just come to his job, which is what he did. He was an individual who was a pleasure to work with. He always put the city ahead among the first things in his mind.”

Roth said the city placed its flags at half-staff following Apple’s death.

“We will ask in the fall that a resolution [honoring Apple] be passed by Council at the appropriate time, but at this time, we want to give the family some time to heal,” he said. “We will all miss him. He was a good person for the city.”

Also during the meeting, Council unanimously passed a resolution “recognizing the assistant finance director’s accession to the office of finance director until a successor is elected or qualified.”

“Due to Jerry’s passing, by charter it calls for Patricia Bertsch, in her position, to take over the duties of finance director until the next election, which will take place [Nov. 5], to fill the expiration of the term,” Roth said. “Because Mr. Apple passed away more than two years into his term and more than 90 days away from the election, they have an election to complete what’s left of his term. You have to be a Fairlawn resident and a registered voter.”

Bertsch, the city’s tax administrator, is not eligible to fill the finance director job permanently because she is not a resident of Fairlawn, Roth said.

City resident Mark Ludwig is running unopposed for the job in the Nov. 5 General Election.

In other business:

  • Fairlawn’s Ward 6 Council seat is currently open due to the resignation of Councilwoman Kathleen Baum in July.
    Council will need to appoint a new interim Council member to serve until a successor is elected this November, according to city officials. The deadline to apply with the city for the seat is today, Aug. 15.
    Baum, who was elected to the seat in 2011, said she resigned due to changes to the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System that would have decreased her pension had she stayed on Council. Baum, who has re-applied for the seat, said her pension will not be affected if she is re-appointed.
    As of Aug. 12, no one else had applied for the open seat, according to city officials.
    Baum also is running unopposed for the seat in the Nov. 5 General Election.
  • Council unanimously voted to accept DCH Landscaping’s $178,100 bid for the Croghan Park improvement project.
    “We’re putting in a rain garden and replacing and upgrading the pedestrian footbridge,” Roth said. “There were four bids submitted to the city, and the high bid was $204,900. The low bid was $178,100, which met with the engineer’s estimate. The engineer was able to tabulate the bid, and he’s found it to be in order. Also, the board of audit for the city is recommending this bid take place.”
  • According to Roth, the city’s gas aggregation price this year will be $4.94 per Mcf (thousand cubic feet) starting with the Nov. 1 billing cycle. For those who are 65 years and older, the price will be $4.84 per Mcf. The price is 15 cents higher than last year, the mayor stated.
    “Our goal is always to give residents a choice,” he said. “If you find a better deal, you don’t hurt us. But this at least gives you a benchmark to comparative shop.”
  • A number of residents of the Winchester Road extension spoke to Council during the Aug. 12 meeting to request permanent repairs for the street, saying temporary repairs have only served to worsen conditions on the road.
    “The streets are evaluated every year as part of our road program,” said Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large). “There is a priority for our most severe problems. There are streets throughout the city in dire need of repair. It is a priority basis. Sooner or later, the streets will all be done, but we only have so much in funds that we can spend. We have a budget.”
    However, Sharnsky said, the Winchester Road extension will be in the mix when streets are evaluated for repair during the next cycle of the city’s road program.
  • Council unanimously passed an ordinance extending the deadline for filing claims with Fairlawn’s Residential Housing Assistance Board until Oct. 31. The deadline previously had been scheduled for the end of this month.
    “People can apply to our board to receive financial assistance up to 50 percent for certain specific things, like anti-flooding devices,” Roth said. “We wanted to extend the deadline to give people more time to apply.”
  • An ordinance accepting the 2013 edition of the construction and materials specifications for paving, storm sewer and sanitary sewer within the city was unanimously approved by Council.
    “What we do is to periodically review our specifications with what [the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)] does, and what we want to do is to make sure our specifications match the ODOT requirements,” the mayor said. “In fact, we usually exceed ODOT requirements in certain areas. But we always look to upgrade our specifications to keep current.”
  • The Fairlawn Fire Department has been awarded a $158,000 grant from the federal government for the purchase of items including air packs and thermal imaging cameras, Fire Chief Russ Hose stated. The city’s share will be approximately $8,000.
  • City Engineer Nick Spagnuolo said the city’s 2013 street repair program is “now complete.”

The next regular Fairlawn City Council meeting is set for Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road.

Sharnsky said Council is considering a special meeting during the week of Aug. 26, with more details forthcoming as the members of Council check their schedules for a possible compatible date.

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