Off the road, into Unity trustee seat

UNITY – A man who retired in November after serving the township 31 years will be replacing Tim Weigle on the board of trustees next month.

Weigle left the seat on Dec. 31 and is now serving as county commissioner. He had one more year on his four-year term as trustee when elected to the county position.

Trustee Joe Ferris said retired road supervisor Bryan Henderson will join the board on Feb. 1. He will be sworn in and a bond will be posted before he can officially be declared trustee.

He will serve in that capacity until Dec. 13 of this year, the last day of Weigle’s term had he remained on the board. In order to continue serving as trustee, Henderson will need to be approved by voters at the November general election.

Henderson said he plans to run for trustee in November and that serving in this capacity is something he has been thinking about the last 20 years. He had not formally gone out for the position before because he was already employed by the township and therefore not allowed, he said.

“We have made a lot of improvements in the township, and I’d like to keep them going. I’ve got a good working relationship, I think, with a majority of the residents in the township. We work good with the surrounding townships, and villages and I’d like to see that (continue),” he said.

Improvements include meeting the township’s goal to have all of the roads chip and sealed by the year 2000, which is impressive since the township is responsible for more mileage than any other township in the county, he said.

He retired from the road supervisor position for the same reason other public employees in the county retired at the end of 2012 – to avoid changes coming through the state public employee retirement system.

He will receive no additional benefits by serving as trustee, Ferris said.

Unlike others in the county, Unity Township trustees and the fiscal officer earn no benefits, including hospitalization insurance. Payment is based on the amount of revenue the township has available, he said.

Henderson was one of 10 people who showed an interest in the position.

“We had a lot of good applicants … we just thought if he’s going to be available he’ll be a good fit because he knows what we’re doing here and how we are doing it,” Ferris said.

Henderson, like the other applicants, was interviewed by Ferris and Board Chairperson Kathy McCarthy. Both have served as trustees 15 and 16 years.

“He’s familiar with everybody (and) with everything that goes on with all the roads so he was really the best choice,” McCarthy said.

Ferris also said Henderson’s existing working relationship with the road department’s three employees is definitely a benefit.

Henderson has attended all of the board of trustee meetings and is readily available, he added.

The road supervisor position will be filled in the future and applications have already started coming in, he said.

The three trustees will work together on the continuing project to run sewer service up North Market Street. The project was started little more than two years ago after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ordered some of the homeowners with failing septic systems in that area to make the necessary repairs. Trustees and county commissioners, who awarded Community Development Block Grant funding for the project in 2010, believed that installing a sewer line along North Market Street to state Route 170 would solve the problem.

The township also paid for a portion of the project and Dave Sugar Excavating installed 1,240 feet of sewer line in July of 2012.

Ferris said another roughly 400 feet of line should be installed sometime this spring or summer. When completed, the project will affect about 13 homes in the North Market Street area, he said.

The residents will pay the $750 tap-in fee to East Palestine, as well as the monthly payment since the village is providing the service.

Henderson will also help Ferris and McCarthy with addressing drainage issues on Waterford Road and Unity-Poland road.

“He’s been there and done that and seen it first-hand so he knows what the guys are getting into,” Ferris said.