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Chesapeake fiscal officer resigns

Houston has served in elected position for 24 years

CHESAPEAKE — For 24 years Peggy Houston has served as fiscal officer for the village of Chesapeake, but that is coming to an end on Friday.

Houston, 84, announced her resignation and retirement at Tuesday night’s meeting of village council.

The remainder of her term for the job will be filled by Christine Nichols, who has been working under and has been trained by Houston.

“I have enjoyed working with each and every one of you,” Houston said to the council and Mayor Tommy Templeton. “I’m grateful and ready to move on to the next phase of my life. It’s been a pleasure working for the village of Chesapeake. May God bless the village of Chesapeake.”

Houston, who has been informally referred to as the “clerk-treasurer” for the village, leads the council in opening prayer at the meetings, where she records the minutes.

Her fiscal duties are part of a full time position and she has two years remaining on her term.

The office is on the ballot again in 2019, the same year as the mayor’s position.

One of Houston’s paintings hangs on the walls of the council chambers.

She said she is looking forward to “relaxing” and spending more time with her husband.

Of Nichols, she said she has “all confidence in my replacement.” “

“And I’m just a phone call away,” Houston said, noting that she lives close by and would always be willing to offer help.

“Could you get here quicker if I take care of the ticket,” Templeton joked, when thanking Houston for her service to the village.

Council members were surprised by Houston’s announcement and voted to accept her resignation, though expressing their disappointment in seeing her depart, with one referring to as “the main person” in keeping the village going.

“I never thought I’d see this day,” Templeton said of Houston’s long time in the position.

Former Mayor Dick Gilpin, when informed of Houston’s announcement on Wednesday, said she “was the glue that held this town together.”

Gilpin served two terms as mayor alongside Houston and he said the success he had as mayor “led back to her and her help.”

“Her expertise and judgment when I was mayor was invaluable,” he said. “She’s very knowledgeable and put on new technology for the village. Her knowledge of all the workings of the village is going to be missed.”

Houston is the second veteran of village government to leave this winter. Council member Paul Hart, who had served since the early 1980s, retired at last month’s meeting.

Hart, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, said Houston faced many challenges in the position, working to bring the village in line with increasing requirements with the state.

Hart’s position on council was filled by Danny Burd, who was sworn in last month and took part in his first meeting as a member of council on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s meeting was largely an organizational meeting for the new year, with the council voting for Kenny Wolfe for another term as mayor pro tempore.

The council also voted to accommodate the changes to the fiscal officer position, agreeing to Nichols taking the job and voting to put her name on the village bank account and safety deposit box.

The main order of business was voting on an ordinance that Templeton referred to as “a drug house ordinance,” addressing residences that have a repeat history of illicit drug activity.

The ordinance is aimed at homes where activity has occurred three times, without abatement, at which point it would be deemed “a public nuisance,” Templeton said.

Wolfe said the ordinance would allow the village to “assume their property” and “gives us the right to keep their property.”

The council voted 5-0 for the measure. Member Paul Penix conceded that it could likely take “months” for such a seizure to take place legally.

“But at least it’s there,” Wolfe said.

In other business, the council:

• Voted to purchase the update for the Ohio Municipal Code at a cost of $685. The purchase is voted on annually by council.

• Discussed the effort to get a new roof for the Chesapeake-Union Fire Volunteer Fire Department. Templeton said the village has agreed to spend $10,500 toward the effort, which would be matched by Union Township. He said he recently attempted to contact two people about quotes for the project, but was still looking for others.

Cole Webb, who was sworn in as a Union Township Trustee earlier in the day, was in attendance at the meeting and he and Templeton said the village and township were working together on the issue.

Council member Richard McMaster was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.