HUBER HEIGHTS — The Huber Heights City Council no longer has a vacancy in Ward 5.
Mayor Tom McMasters appointed Nancy Byrge on Sunday and swore her in publicly at Monday evening’s meeting – but it was not without controversy.
Eva Newby, who was one of the original three applicants to fill the vacancy, criticized McMasters and said the city is a “laughing stock” due to how the appointment process played out.
“I have been used as a pawn on a chess board with the Mayor making ultimatums in front of the media,” said Newby. “This seat was being held hostage and the citizens of Ward 5 are the ones getting the short end of the stick.”
Newby said her concern is for the city and its reputation.
“We have been made a laughing stock,” she said. “I have lived in the city 20 years and never have I been so embarrassed to say that I live here.” “(This process) has made the city look bad and the council look bad. I think something needs to be done to rectify what has been done to make us a laughing stock.”
McMasters thanked Newby at the end of her comments.
“I appreciate this must have been difficult for you as well, and the process,” said McMasters. “I know that I have learned a lot and most of everything you have said is accurate…I do understand your frustration.”
Janelle Smith moved to censure Mayor McMasters and Council Member Ed Lyons for their comments during the February 25 meeting in which Lyons accused the council of being racist and sexist for failure to appoint Eva Newby to the vacant Ward 5 seat.
Both of Smith’s motions fell for lack of a second.
“We have done this in the past, Janelle, and I haven’t seen that it has had any benefit other than a slap on the wrist, so I don’t know how beneficial it is to put our city through this,” said Council Member Judy Blankenship.
“I think there have been enough things said and enough damage done to this city that I think our constituents, our residents, and our businesses deserve some form of action be it a slap on the wrist or something further,” countered Smith. “I think they deserve to have something documented that we don’t condone the behavior.”
McMasters admitted that he engaged in poor behavior toward Lyons.
“My behavior was out of line,” said McMasters. “I do apologize to the residents of the city for having that all over the news and my reaction. I will try to refrain from that type of name calling from the dais again.”
In business matters, highlights from the meeting included:
- Authorizing the City Manager to enter into agreements to purchase alcohol for the Rose Music Center not to exceed $200,000 to Heidelberg Distributing Company and $50,000 for Huelskamp & Kremer;
- Authorized the purchase of an ambulance from Horton Emergency Vehicles at a cost not to exceed $250,000. The estimated delivery will be 11 months and the purchase will be made through a lease with the purchase done through the State of Ohio bid process;
- Authorized the City Manager to enter into a contract with Burton Planning Services for the Brandt Pike Target Revitalization study in the amount of $75,000;
- Approved sanitary sewer repairs in the amount of $225,000 and the replacement of the roof on the City Hall at a cost of $60,000;
- Approved the issuance of $900,000 in binds to pay the cost of widening Chambersburg Road from just east of Brandt Pike to Evergreen Woods Drive. The bonds are to be paid within one year from grant money and Permissive Tax funds;
- Appointed Jan Vargo to the Planning Commission through January, 2021 and re-appointed Anthony Rodgers and appointed LeeAnne Yeater to the Huber Heights Housing Council through March, 2019;
- Authorized the City Manager to enter into a revised purchase contract for Lot 5 at the Music Center at the Heights for the development of a hotel. The purchase price is being revised to compensate for the extension of utilities by the developer.
The Huber Heights City Council will hold its next regular business meeting on Monday, March 28, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 6131 Taylorsville Road in Huber Heights.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.