Zoar council breaks off negotiations with Zoar VFD

Zoar council breaks off negotiations with Zoar VFD
Lori Feeney

During its September meeting, members of the Zoar Village Council voted to discontinue negotiations for a fire contract with the Zoar Volunteer Fire Department.


During its September meeting, members of the Zoar Village Council voted to discontinue negotiations for a fire contract with the Zoar Volunteer Fire Department after a heated conversation with a representative of the department.

Negotiations for the fire contract had been in the works since the beginning of this year. Council members were expecting to have received a three-year contract for consideration, but instead, they received a five-year contract just prior to the meeting.

When Mayor Scott Gordon asked John Malcom why the contract submitted was for five years, Malcom said a mistake had been made by the department’s attorney.

“We can do it the easy way, or we can do it the hard way,” Malcom said. “I’ll settle for a five-year, or you won’t have fire protection at all.”

Malcom further complained about council granting Bolivar Fire Department a four-year contract for EMS services.

Negotiations broke down when Malcom accused Gordon of being one of the worst mayors he’d ever met. Council President Gayle Potelicki reacted by saying she thought Malcom was being uncooperative, at which point Malcom hung up on the meeting.

Potelicki called Malcolm’s behavior “contractual blackmail.” Council voted to initiate negotiations with the Bolivar Fire Department. Hans Fischer voted no. Judy Meiser recused herself from the vote as she has ties with the fire department.

Council also says no annexation

Council had been considering annexing Hickory Lane just outside the village limits to the south but voted to no longer pursue the idea. Councilwoman Judy Meiser said the water lines were too small and would need to be replaced in order to offer adequate fire protection. Members felt there was nothing to be gained by annexing the street and doing so would only cause the village added expense. Fisher cast the only no vote on discontinuing the pursuit.

A question was raised as to why street commissioner David Irwin was not included in a recent meeting on the annexation as requested by council. Gordon said it was simply an oversight.

In other business council voted or agreed to:

—Purchase safety vests for the street commissioner and crew at a cost of up to $50.

—Request fund distribution through the CARES Act in the amount of $5,000.

—Table payment for work on the Zoar connection to the Towpath Trail as Potelicki reiterated her position from the August meeting that the payment was not what was originally agreed upon with the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. Also influencing the decision to table payment was the mayor’s reporting the final bill did not include the cost of an upcoming meeting to close out the project.

—Revise the contract with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for repaving.

—Solicit bids for trash pickup as the rates from the current hauler went up.

Council also heard:

—First reading of an ordinance to hire Mark Gaynor as cemetery administrator. Gaynor will sell plots and receive $50 for each one sold.

—Councilman Tom Klingaman contacted the Ohio Ethics Commission regarding his affirmative vote to appoint his son-in-law, Patrick Eddy, to the historic preservation committee during the August meeting. Klingaman said he was told by OEC the vote was legal because they do not live under the same roof.

—The planning commission recently granted a permit for a resident at 126 Park St. to operate a bed and breakfast and a variance for a rear garden shed construction at 171 E. Second St.

—Donnie’s Tavern was issued a conditional-use permit to add a front porch. Gordon will ask the owner to be sure his gutters are cleaned regularly to avoid water run-off problems that have been occurring and to make the post railings more historically accurate.

—A report on levee work being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said work on relief wells will wrap up soon, and seismic readings are being taken. Council asked Gordon to be sure an area at the end of Second Street is not used for materials dumping as the street is not rated for heavy-axle vehicles.

The village is continuing to look for a fiscal officer to replace Patty Smith.

The next meeting will be Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. either at the Zoar Schoolhouse or via conference call, to be announced.

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