The Washington Court House City Council met in executive session for the second time this month Wednesday to discuss filling the vacancy created when Trent Dye resigned his seat in December 2016. With all council members in attendance, it took less than half an hour before council moved to appoint Steve Jennings to fill the vacancy.
The vote was not unanimous. Kendra Hernandez, Ted Hawk, Dale Lynch, Kim Bonnell and Jim Chrisman were in favor of seating Jennings with Leah Foster being the dissenting vote. According to Foster, “I think Steve Jennings is a fantastic person and has served the city well. However, he did not receive the second highest number of votes in the last election which means the residents of the city wanted someone new, someone with new ideas.”
There were 10 names of citizens who were interested in filling the vacated seat. Foster and Lynch said they both hope that these people will run for council seats in the future.
Lynch reminded the council that in one year there will be four seats up for election. “We will need citizens to run for those seats.” Foster agreed. “If you were interested enough to apply for this vacancy, please be interested enough to run for a council seat,” she said.
Jennings was first seated as a council member in January 2004 and lost his bid for a fourth term in the November 2015 election. Jennings retired from the Air Force having served in Vietnam from 1967-1971. He also spent 24 years on the Washington Court House Police Department. When asked why he chose to allow his name to be submitted when approached to apply to fill the vacancy, he said he “saw it as an opportunity to serve Washington Court House residents one more time.”
Shared Jennings, “I am sorry for the circumstances that led to the vacancy, but I am pleased to accept this position.”
Dye’s resignation was accepted by council on Dec. 14 after it was reported by the Record-Herald that Dye was the subject of a civil lawsuit accusing him of defrauding his former employer of nearly $400,000.
Jennings admits he will need a refresher course. The top three big items on his list are “the waste water treatment plant and the ensuing EPA requirements; the new Economic Development Director (Chelsie Snively) who appears to be a very energetic person, and, to bring Rails to Trails back to the front of everyone’s minds.”
As to his thoughts regarding the vote, Jennings said he “appreciates Leah’s honesty. She stuck to her beliefs and she gets my admiration for that. Others might have given in. That’s why council is made up of seven citizens with seven personalities.”
In other council business, minutes from the Dec. 28, 2016 regular council meeting were approved as were the minutes of the Jan. 4, 2017 special council meeting.
City Manager Joseph Denen in his report to council praised the street department for being out collecting limbs from recent storms even before residents could call. According to Denen, “It is still a good idea for residents to call (740-636-2380) for brush pickup so you don’t get missed.”
Also, Denen praised the police department on their quick turn-around in having the younger, new officers out on the streets. Council was also reminded regarding upcoming meetings. There is a council work session scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in council chambers and the last council meeting for January will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 25 beginning at 7:30 p.m., again in council chambers, 105 N. Main St. All council meetings are open to the public.