After more than 40 years of service to Delaware Township, Roger Van Sickle is ready to wrap up his career in public service. The longtime township trustee is set to retire at the end of the week, leaving behind a wealth of experience and large shoes to fill.
Van Sickle, a former sergeant in the Ohio National Guard and retired assistant vice president of Fahey Bank in Marion, began his career with the township in 1980, serving as the township clerk and on the Delaware Township Board of Zoning over a span of five years. In 1986, Van Sickle successfully ran for a township trustee position and has maintained the seat since, including his current role as the chairman.
Among his favorite achievements during his time as a trustee was the construction of the Delaware Township Hall, located at 2590 Liberty Road. Previously, the trustees met at the Tri-Township Fire House before Van Sickle, along with former Trustee John Young, set out to give Delaware Township its own home.
“I had a vision there to make a walking park and put some shelter houses (on the property),” Van Sickle said. “We included a playground in the back as well. I did the investments when I served as clerk, so I knew we had enough … We paid cash for the building, and the maintenance hall is also there.”
Grant money from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) aided the additional projects on the land, such as the walking paths, stream and tree identifications. Van Sickle said the township was told its chances of receiving grant funding for the projects were slim, but through his persistence, the township received multiple grants from ODNR.
“People have enjoyed that,” he said of the various additions to the property.
Van Sickle, a 45-year resident of Delaware Township himself, also fondly recalls reducing taxes in the township as part of a road levy in the 1980s, a move that stumped the Delaware County Board of Elections (BOE) at the time.
“They didn’t know how to put it on the ballot,” Van Sickle recalled with a laugh. “They knew how to renew, but they’d never had a reduction, so they didn’t know the language.”
Van Sickle said the BOE was so stumped, in fact, that it had to take the ballot measure to then-Secretary of State Sherrod Brown to get the proper language for the ballot. The move ultimately led to a phone call from Brown to Van Sickle, congratulating the township on something that has “hardly ever been done,” Van Sickle said.
For good measure, Van Sickle and Delaware Township again reduced taxes in the community five years later, he said.
In addition to tax reductions and the construction of the township hall, Van Sickle said he is very proud of the improvements that have been made to all of the township roads through the years. He added that he feels the community has been pleased with the township, particularly with their work in updating the zoning codes, which have been done twice recently.
While his service to the township has produced many fruits, Van Sickle said he never intended to make such a long career out of service to the township.
“I thought maybe a couple of terms as (township) clerk, maybe two or three terms as a trustee,” Van Sickle said. “But I got to enjoying it, and people encouraged me to continue, so I did. The nice thing about it is when I leave, I have two trustees in Kevin Hennessy and Randy Ormeroid, who are top-notch people … It’s been a pleasure to work with them.”
Van Sickle added, “After 41 years, when someone asks if I feel bad about leaving, I tell them no. I think I’ve left it about 10 times better than when I got there. That makes it a lot easier to walk away.”
Although his work with the township has been extensive, it’s hardly been his only service to the community. Through the years, Van Sickle has compiled an impressive resume of servitude, having sat on the board of trustees for Grady Memorial Hospital, the Ohio Mental Health Center of Delaware and Morrow Counties, Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware County Habitat for Humanity, and the Delaware County Cultural Arts, to name a few.
Currently, Van Sickle still serves on the board for SourcePoint as well as in his role as the Delaware County jury commissioner, among others.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the people,” Van Sickle said of the many hats he’s worn through the years. “I’ve been busy, but it’s been a joy working with the people … It’s just been a pleasure to work with and around the citizens of Delaware County. They’ve been tremendous.”
Asked what he will miss the most about having a role in the township, Van Sickle listed nearly every aspect of a trustee’s position, right down the meetings themselves. Ultimately, however, he came back to the very reason he began as a clerk four decades ago —improving the township and taking care of the community’s problems.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.