GALENA — Karl Gebhardt was named chair of the Genoa Township Board of Trustees at a reorganization meeting held last month.
Renee Vaughan was named vice chair, a role she remains in. Both were nominated by Trustee Connie Goodman, past chair.
Gebhardt and Vaughan thanked Goodman for her leadership during the trying year of 2020.
Genoa Township Fire Chief Joseph Ponzi asked the trustees to approve the hiring of three new battalion chiefs and three new captains. The trustees did so.
Those promoted were Capt. Craig Downey, Battalion Chief Brady Johnson, Battalion Chief Erik Schieber, Capt. Andy Spitler, Capt. David Wark and Battalion Chief Corey Weekly.
“I assume you’re all smiling under those masks,” said Fiscal Officer Patrick Myers, who administered the swearing-ins of the longtime township firemen.
Gebhardt thanked Ponzi and former Chief Gary Honeycutt for their restructuring of the Genoa Township Fire Department to provide more opportunities for advancement.
Police Chief Steve Gammill said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been fewer motorists and thus citations have dropped two-thirds, and accidents and OVIs have dropped by half. Service calls have also decreased 25%, Gammill said, and larcenies decreased 30%. With more people being home, however, domestic disputes have increased 10%, and mental illness crisis/suicide calls were up 50%.
In response to a question, Gammill said he suspected those statistics were similar in other jurisdictions. He noted that resources are available to those who need help.
Ponzi said the fire department’s 2020 activity statistics were similar to 2019, although there had been an initial slump during the start of the pandemic.
Committee assignments and representatives to county boards and agencies were made at the meeting. Among those were Gebhardt to the Delaware Public Health District and Zoning Director Joe Shafer will represent the township at the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission. Gebhardt said the assignments were interchangeable in the event a trustee couldn’t attend a meeting.
Trustees will meet the first Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m., with the third Thursday optional if business requires it. In response to a question by Vaughan, there will be more virtual meetings for township boards and commissions due to the ongoing pandemic.
There was also a discussion on coronavirus vaccinations and administering it to law enforcement and residents. First responders and nurses have already received them, but the state of Ohio has not gotten to police yet on its tier of recipients. Trustees Gebhardt and Goodman said they discussed this with former trustee and current state Rep. Rick Carfagna.
Policy on township cooperation with the DPHD if called on for involvement in a vaccination program was drafted by Administrator Paul Wise and approved by the trustees in a 2-1 vote.
“There are other places in the county where residents can get the vaccine,” Vaughan said. “There’s three CVS (stores) and a Walgreens, so there’s plenty of other opportunities. I would feel differently if there weren’t other options.”
Vaughan said she has concerns about township and personal liability, as well as vaccination safety. She also thought any overtime incurred should be charged to Delaware County.
Gebhardt said this was about being proactive and he understood Vaughan’s concerns. Goodman said getting vaccinated was entirely voluntary and not being mandated. Ponzi said there has only been 29 instances of reactions to the vaccine of the millions of shots given. None in the county have been reported, either.
Myers initially led the meeting, which was held at a different location, the new Police Facility training room on Big Walnut Road in Galena. The township hall is being renovated with carpeting, painting and audio visual, Gebhardt said.
The trustees approved paying $26,000 to snow removal contractors for assisting the Maintenance Department in clearing nearly 4-5 inches in nearly 200 cul-de-sacs on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was said the crews enjoyed doing the work, and two residents praised them during the public comments section.
Policies, fees, salaries and rules were also established at the meeting on Jan. 7. Ohio Revised Code requires reorganization meetings, Gebhardt said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.