LEWIS CENTER — The Orange Township Board of Trustees voted Monday to let go of Administrator Andrew King, who was suspended last month.
King, 43, was hired by the township in April 2020. His starting salary was $110,000. Administrators are hired by township trustees to carry out their legislative actions and the township’s day-to-day business with its departments, staff and outside agencies. No reason was given for King’s termination.
The vote was 2-1, with Chair Ben Grumbles and Debbie Taranto in favor of termination, and Ryan Rivers against. Taranto is currently serving as administrator.
After a public hearing during the nearly three-hour virtual meeting, Rivers objected over the board going into executive session.
“I sent over a cease and desist letter,” Rivers said. “I don’t believe we’ve had the proper legal counsel for several matters, including administrator King and his suspension, the handling of public records requests, and the (Ohio) Inspector General’s investigation of a board member (Grumbles). I believe trustee Grumbles should recuse himself from the last meeting and the meeting tonight.”
“Thank you for your objection,” Grumbles said.
“Based on the letter, I’m going to ask for two things tonight —” Rivers said, but was cut off by Grumbles.
“We’re going to mute you if you’re disruptive,” Grumbles said to Rivers. “We’re going to proceed.”
Following a nearly hour-long executive session, and hearing from guests on other matters, the trustees voted on King.
“I do plan to submit this to the (Ohio) Ethics Commission tomorrow,” Rivers said. Rivers also objected to the meeting’s agenda.
The meeting included a zoning hearing regarding a potential Sheetz at the corner of Orange Road and U.S. Route 23. The trustees were told the location would consist of a restaurant and convenience store with gas pumps and a car wash. Sheetz is primarily a restaurant, with fuel added for customer convenience, a representative told the trustees.
There were comments and concerns from the public, including Don Rife, the owner of Ninja Express Car Wash, which would be across the street from the Sheetz. Other complaints were with the added traffic and current speeding would increase the number of accidents at the intersection, along with noise and light from the car wash. Although the use is in the Route 23 Overlay, a comment was made that the area would turn into Morse Road in Columbus instead of Bridge Park in Dublin.
“I’m a big fan of Sheetz, but not at this location,” said Phil Ryser, a nearby resident.
The trustees agreed to continue the hearing on June 7 to give the applicant time to make some suggested changes.
Also at the meeting, Delaware Public Health District representatives said people will need to wear masks at times while at the pool. Instances were masks are required include when standing in the concession line or when an individual is unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others they don’t know for 15 minutes or longer.
Trustees also agreed to a request to hire three full-time firefighters to offset upcoming retirements and continued growth in a township of 30,000 people.
Finally, trustees praised new hire Director of Operations Silas Bowers, who stood out among the five applicants interviewed among the 52 who applied. Bowers will oversee township roads and parks at an annual salary of $93,000.
“He’s going to hit the ground running,” Taranto said of Bowers, whose previous position was in Powell. “He’s going to bring a new dynamic.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.