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Killian looks back on long service to township

12/5/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Bruce Killian retired Nov. 30 after 22 years of service to Springfield Township.
Photo: Maria Lindsay

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Township Trustee Bruce Killian retired Nov. 30 after 28 years in the grocery business, followed by 22 years of public service.

Springfield officials will host a retirement open house to recognize Killian for his years of service to the township Dec. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. in Town Hall, 2459 Canfield Road. The public is invited to attend.

Killian, 62, said his service to the township began shortly after he applied to replace then trustee Andy Wells, who retired in 1991. Trustees Al Schrader and Twyla Roman did not appoint him to take over for Wells, but Killian said he decided to run for a seat on the board that November, and voters elected him to begin his service in January 1992. He held the seat through 2007, ran for and was elected fiscal officer for 2008-09, and decided to leave that position to run for a trustee seat in 2010, to which he was elected.

“The trust placed in me by voters repeatedly electing me has been humbling and gratifying,” he said. “I have tried my best to uphold this trust. I have taken responsibility for the almost 100 part-time and full-time employees [now] to see that they have been adequately trained and that they have the equipment to do the job for the health and safety of the 15,000 residents.”

Over the years, Killian said he has seen a lot of changes in the township that he was born and raised in.

One of the most significant was the construction of Interstate 77 in the late 1960s, which created an access to South Arlington Road and development along the corridor.

The Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) agreement with Akron, adopted in 1995, brought water and sewer service to those areas, along with more development and revenue to the township. That money was needed, according to Killian, who had served on the JEDD Board.

“In 1992, the township was struggling due to all the annexation [from Akron],” said Killian. “We were happy to develop the JEDD with Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. We were the only county in Ohio at the time to create such a plan.

“It has proved to be one of the most beneficial things for the township,” he added. “We wouldn’t exist today without it. Springfield was platted with 25 square miles, but annexation left us with 14 square miles. The JEDD stopped the annexation.”

Killian said another significant development was a fire levy passed by voters to support the Springfield Fire Department, which led to its modernization — from a volunteer department to a staff of trained paramedics and firefighters.

In 2003, the township got a $3 million inheritance settlement from the Wolfe estate, according to Killian.

“We decided to earmark it for new township facilities,” he said. “We were really crowded in a small facility, and we were very grateful to build new space at no cost to the residents.”

Over the years, improvements were made to the lakefront, which was initially a resort area owned by William Sawyer, the great-grandfather of state Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-District 28), who is also a former mayor of Akron and a former U.S. representative. The Springfield Senior and Community Center was once the family summer home on what was then known as the Sawyer farm.

Killian said the township transitioned slowly from a resort area with cottages to permanent homes.

“We have had slow and steady development, and that made it easier for the township,” said Killian. “I feel pretty good leaving with the personnel on staff. It is in good hands. It has been a big part of my life and I will miss it.”

Fiscal Officer Joy Dies, who has worked with Killian since 1995, said Killian, who also served as treasurer for the Summit County Township Association, will be missed.

“He has been a great trustee to work with,” she said. “He has a great deal of knowledge and background on the revenue stream concerning township finances, and a lot of people rely on him.”

Trustee Deborah Davis has worked with Killian since 1992.

“Bruce has been a very important piece of the governing of Springfield Township,” she said. “He has devoted many talents in so many ways for the good of our township and to benefit its residents. I have learned so much from him and appreciate all the help. I would like to thank him for all his faithful years of service and wish him the very best in all his future endeavors.”

Prior to his work for the township, Killian and his wife, Mary Ann (Galloway), operated a grocery store in East Akron for almost 20 years. He got into that business at the age of 12, first working for an uncle who owned the store, and then after graduating from The University of Akron with a degree in business management, he put that knowledge to work in the business. Killian met his future wife there in 1981. The store was sold in December 1991.

The work was a natural progression from the family background in agriculture, he said. Killian said he grew up on a farm next to Milroy School and graduated from Archbishop Hoban High School in 1969, and to this day, he maintains his roots in the food industry. Killian lives only 3 miles from the farm where he was born and raised.

“I am concerned about the public’s disconnect with food and farms, so I am happy to see the growth of community gardens,” he said.

Killian has done the groundwork, literally, for the Springfield community gardens, using his own farm equipment to turn the soil in preparation for residents wanting to plant in the spring. He continues to grow pumpkins and gourds, as well as hay for horses, and this year he put up a small greenhouse to extend the season and grow greens for himself and his wife, he said.

His plans for retirement include traveling in a recently purchased camper to see family, which he said has spread across the country.

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