Councilors OK New SSD

ST. MARYS —  City councilors Monday night approved the hiring of the new safety-service director.

St. Marys City Councilors approved an emergency ordinance approving the hiring of Jason Little as the new safety-service director. Mayor Pat McGowan announced his intentions to hire Little, who currently serves as deputy engineer in Fayette County, last week. Little currently lives in Washington Courthouse and will take over for interim Safety-Service Director Craig Moeller, who was appointed to the post when Tom Hitchcock resigned to take the same job for the city of Celina.

“I’m excited — it’s a big job for me and I am looking forward to it,” Little told The Evening Leader following the meeting. “It’s a big challenge.”

A self-proclaimed “small-town guy,” Little said St. Marys’ size and quality of life drew him to the position.

“I went to a small high school and a small college so that’s kind of my background,” Little said. “Columbus, Dayton — something like that is not what I am looking for.”

Little has previously worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation as a transportation administrator. He was responsible for the construction and maintenance of state highways in Fayette County. Little also worked as a city engineer in Washington Courthouse. He is a graduate of Ohio Northern University.

“My whole career I have been taking steps up the ladder,” Little said. “This is what I have been looking for.”

Little is scheduled to start March 30 with a salary of $91,000, as well as use of a city-owned vehicle. Hitchcock’s outgoing salary was $85,000 a year, as well as use of a city-owned vehicle.

“It feels very good to have Jason on board,” McGowan told The Evening Leader. “(Interim Safety-Service Director) Craig Moeller will continue to do his job and I am sure he’s looking forward to when Jason is on board and everyone gets back into their regular jobs. Jason is going to be welcomed and I think he will be a good addition to the team.”

McGowan again touted Moeller’s role as interim safety-service director for allowing him time to go through the selection process.

“When you have a guy with Craig’s qualifications and skills, we can sit back and reach out and get the right person for the job,” McGowan said. “We don’t have to settle for  that person who will do. We can get quality.”

McGowan also confirmed to The Evening Leader he is closing in on a person to fill the development manager’s position.

Councilors also discussed the creation of a revitalization district in downtown St. Marys. City Law Director Kraig Noble said the district would allow businesses that fit a certain number of requirements to obtain a liquor permit. Noble said the mayor received two applications — one from Spring Street Coffee House and one from Guarnieri Pizzeria — regarding the designation.

“This is done under the liquor control laws of the state of Ohio,” Noble said. “The state, under this section of the law, allows the city to declare an area that can be deemed a revitalization area — typically that’s a downtown area with older buildings. That allows then up to four additional liquor permits in that area.”

Noble said there are limitations placed upon the permits. Each entity must derive 75 percent of its gross receipts from the sales of items other than alcohol. The proposed 40-acre district would be bound by Court Street and Spruce Street and South Street and High Street.

“What it’s taking care of is smaller restaurants,” Noble said. “It just gives some flexibility in doing this.”

Councilors approved a public hearing be held at 6:45 p.m. April 9 on the topic.

Councilors also discussed the option of placing a ballot measure in front of voters regarding the establishment of four-year, staggered terms for city councilors. The city of Wapakoneta is in the process of placing a ballot measure in front of voters in November on the same proposal.

Noble said in August 1990, city councilors placed the matter on the ballot. He said voters rejected the measure by a count of 1,309 to 976.

“Wapak has gotten a lot of publicity and they are looking at it,” Noble said. “If you would so direct me, I would prepare an ordinance .... This is the year to do it. The timing of an even number year so this is the year something like this would be placed on the ballot.”

Councilors discussed the topic and opted not to have Noble draft an ordinance.

In other business, councilors:

•  Approved the second reading of an ordinance regarding payment associated with the defunct AMP-Ohio power plant project in Meigs County.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the safety-service director to offer certain vehicles, equipment and other items for sale.

• Approved the first reading of an emergency resolution authorizing the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce to obtain a temporary liquor permit for beer sales in K.C. Geiger Park during SummerFest and for continuing said authorization should certain conditions be met.

Councilors entered executive session to discuss employment regarding the safety-service director where they got to ask Little questions.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 12 at the city building located along East Spring Street.