Longtime Lisbon official leaving council

LISBON – Village Council on Tuesday bid farewell to one of its own and also filled a vacancy in the police department.

Councilman Willis Coleman announced during the meeting he was resigning at the end of the month for health reasons. He was attending his first meeting since suffering a heart attack in December that resulted in an extended hospitalization.

In his letter to Mayor Dan Bing, Coleman said although he would like to stay on, his resignation was in the best interest of the village and himself.

At the beginning of the meeting, Bing had welcomed Coleman back, telling him, “You’ve been sorely missed and you look great.”

Coleman, 79, served three terms as mayor before returning to office as a councilman in 2010. During his 40-year public career, he was also on the fire department, active in the Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce and on the Shade Tree Commission.

“I’ve done just about everything,” he said.

“Forty years of service! We should get you a gun like we got Buck,” Bing joked to Coleman, referring to the fact council let former police Chief John “Buck” Higgins keep his service handgun when he retired in the fall.

Council intends to act quickly in naming a replacement. Anyone interested in serving Coleman’s term, which expires Dec. 31, should submit their application to either Bing or Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner by May 3.

In other action, council followed the recommendation of police Chief Mike Abraham and promoted part-time officer David Hilliard to full-time status immediately. This was done after council accepted the resignation of part-time officer David Beeson to take a full-time job with the Salem Police Department, which Abraham said left him without enough officers to fill all of the shifts.

The police department was already down two full-time positions going into Tuesday’s meeting because council has yet to fill Abraham’s position, which has been vacant since he was promoted to chief last fall. Then two weeks ago full-time officer Dan Downard resigned to take another job.

Council has instructed Abraham to apply for a federal COPS grant to pay for an officer to fill the other vacancy, but the chief said the village has yet to qualify for the program.

Hilliard, 31, has worked as a part-time officer with Lisbon since 2004 and he also was employed as a full-time officer in Salineville from December 2010 before resigning in March 2012.

A graduate of the Ohio Police Academy, Hilliard has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from the former Jefferson Community College in Steubenville, now the Eastern Gateway Community College. He lives in Lisbon with his wife, Julia, a teacher at McKinley Elementary School.