Middleton minds its own matters, alone

NEGLEY – A scheduled “information gathering session” with Rogers and state officials was not canceled, but held without anyone from Rogers, Middleton Township trustees said Monday.

Referring to an article in Friday’s Journal in which it was stated that a meeting between trustees, some on Rogers council and members of the state auditor’s office was canceled, Trustee Eldena Gearhart said it was not canceled, Rogers officials simply did not show up.

“It was strictly an information gathering session and it was requested by Rogers … They did not call and inform us that they weren’t coming, they just didn’t show up. That was bad, they should have at least canceled,” she said.

Council members intending to meet with the trustees were Mike Hunt and Tom Chambers, and according to a previous report, were advised not to by village Solicitor Michelle Simonelli.

Simonelli believed it would be inappropriate for them to meet with township and state officials in a non-public meeting, especially to discuss a matter she has described as “controversial.”

The meeting, which Gearhart stressed was not a meeting but an “information gathering session,” was to discuss what would happen if Rogers dissolved and became part of the township.

Informational meetings are allowed under the Ohio Sunshine Law.

According to Gearhart, Trustee Nancy Michaels and Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman, it was Michaels who attended the session alone with three members of the auditor’s office, one of whom was Dave Thompson.

Chapman said Thompson is from Cincinnati and is familiar with municipalities dissolving as he had been involved with three over the last decade at least.

According to an online article from The Lima News, Thompson was involved with the dissolution of Fort Shawnee in August.

Michaels said the state officials did provide her with information pertaining to the matter, but she did not offer the details, only saying, “At this point we have nothing to do with Rogers. Whatever they decide is their decision.”

She went on to say, “I hope they stay a village. I really hope they can make a go of it and stay a village but if they don’t then we’ll find out what we have to do.”

The village of roughly 237 people is operating on a tight budget and owes the auditor’s office about $50,000 for routine audits dating back 10 years.

“It seems like their biggest concern is street lights,” Chapman said.

As for the “meeting” Chapman had with Hunt and Chambers, Chapman said it was not scheduled, but that they showed up one evening while he was at the township garage, which is where the board of trustee meetings are held.

At which point Gearhart interjected there was a meeting.

“Why were we all here?” she asked, to which Chapman responded there was no meeting and she was not there, referring to when he spoke with Hunt and Chambers.

But Gearhart mentioned there was a meeting on a Thursday, but could not recall what it was for, and Chapman again said there was no meeting, although he did say Hunt was possibly going to visit on Dec. 5, but showed up another night instead.

Gearhart also asked, “Why were we here on a Tuesday?”

But Chapman dismissed that comment as well.