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Commission appoints 911 assistant, but not without controversy

The creation of a new supervisory position at the Lawrence County EMA/911 center sparked some controversy among commissioners this week.

Sunday, May 20, 2001

The creation of a new supervisory position at the Lawrence County EMA/911 center sparked some controversy among commissioners this week.

In its regular session Thursday, the commission voted to create an assistant director of emergency services. The position oversees both EMA and 911 and reports directly to executive director Don Mootz.

Commissioners also appointed Mike Boster to the position, at an annual salary of $30,000; and hired James L. Ward to fill the newly-vacated position of deputy director of EMA with a salary of $25,000. The actions are effective June 4.

Commissioner George Patterson voted against the board’s measures, calling the changes ridiculous.

"The director does a good job, and the county just came out of a spending freeze then turns around and creates a job," Patterson said. "It’s unnecessary and political."

Also, other emergency services employees should have been considered for the job, he said.

"They’re loading the staff up with political people to the point they can’t perform their functions," Patterson said.

The commissioner said he was opposed to using the county’s 1/2 percent sales tax, which funds emergency services, to hire people the county doesn’t need.

Commission president Paul Herrell said the changes were need to provide assistance to emergency services upper management and a backup for the director.

"We’re trying to get someone broke in," Herrell said. "If Don (Mootz) happens to retire or gets sick we want someone there to do his job."

Commissioner Jason Stephens also favored the personnel change, and said that the position and hiring were not politically motivated.

"I see it as a management decision," he said, adding the changes were needed.

The county gets a good employee in Boster, with his work on water issues and children’s safety; the county gets a backup for the director, which will free up more time for him to do long-term planning; and the county gets another experienced and qualified public safety employee in Ward, Stephens said.

Also Thursday, commissioners:

– Grant writer Doug Cade about plans to file for an Ohio EPA grant to finish cleaning up thousands of discarded tires at Athalia.

The state used about $6,500 last fall to to clean up one pile, but three others remain, Cade told commissioners.

The piles have caught fire at least two times in recent years

It will take about $30,000 just to clean up the tires, which the county will apply for in grant funds. Money from an EPA cleanup fund allotted to the county can go toward the county’s local matching share.

If the grant’s awarded, cleanup will likely occur this winter, Cade said.

The county also could assess the property taxes or file a lien to recover costs.

– Awarded the bid and signed the county resurfacing contract with Shelly Company of Thornville. Amount of contract $516,742.18.