City council fills vacant seat

Published 11:03 am Friday, December 28, 2012

Former Ironton City Councilman Ralph “Butch” Huff was appointed by that council Thursday to fill the vacant seat left by retiring Bob Cleary.

At Thursday night’s council meeting, councilman Kevin Waldo made the nomination, saying Huff would “make a very competent replacement” to Cleary, who resigned nearly a month ago citing changes in Ohio Public Employee Retirement System for the upcoming year.

“I think he is a pretty well known character in the City of Ironton,” Waldo said.

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Council chair Mike Lutz agreed, seconding the nomination.

“He hasn’t been away from council very long,” Lutz said. “I respect his decisions.”

Huff, 62, was elected to council in 2005 and held the position for one term. Huff filed to seek a second term in 2009 but his petition was disallowed for not having enough valid signatures. Huff hoped to run as a write-in candidate but changes to state law prevented him from doing so.

Although not present at Thursday’s meeting, Huff said he was surprised to be approached to fill the vacant seat.

“I’m glad some people thought well enough of me to make that decision,” Huff said.

Knowing the tough economic climate of the city, Huff said he knew there weren’t many takers for the council seat, but said that he hoped to help council make the city more businessfriendly.

“There are always silver linings to these clouds,” Huff said.

Councilman Philip Heald said he was in favor of re-appointing Cleary to the vacant seat, but voted in favor of appointing Huff, saying he had the “utmost respect” for the man.

Councilman Aaron Bollinger also voted in favor of appointing Huff. Councilwoman Beth Rist voted against the appointment.

Dave Frazer was absent from the meeting due to obligations refereeing a basketball game.

In other business:

• All five council members present chose not to override the mayor’s veto of a one-time honorarium payment of $750 to 19 non-union employees.

Blankenship had said the veto was a matter on conscience as the honorarium negatively impacts ongoing contract negotiations.

• Mayor Rich Blankenship presented Decatur Volunteer Firefighter Donald Henry with an award of recognition for his efforts in finding missing Ironton teen Amber Farmer earlier this month. Henry and his dog Shadow located the 14-year-old girl after an overnight search in the woods came up empty.

Blankenship recalled the moment when he heard Henry had found the girl.

“We heard him when he found her,” Blankenship said. “He was very excited when he came across the radio.”

Henry accepted the award on behalf of the fire department and all those who volunteered to help find the girl.

• Council suspended the rules and adopted three ordinances: 12-86 amending the annual operating budget for the City of Ironton for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012, and declaring an emergency; 12-87 adopting the temporary operating budget for the City of Ironton for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012, and declaring an emergency; and 12-82 authorizing and directing the mayor to execute an agreement with Doll Layman Ltd., for replacement of the grit collector and bar screen at the wastewater treatment plant and declare it an emergency.

• Council had second readings to ordinances 12-83 authorizing and directing the mayor to execute a change order with Fields Excavating for reconstruction work performed for the north Ironton sanitary sewer separation project and declare it an emergency; and 12-84 authorizing and directing the mayor to enter into a contract with Ohio University Southern and declare it an emergency.

The contract with OUS provide security patrols for the campus for a payment of about $10,000 to the city for a year.

• Council appointed Brigham Anderson as city prosecutor effective Jan. 1 with no compensation.

• Council reappointed Tyler Walters to the health board.