BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — The lingering glow of the holiday season was still evident prior to the first meeting of Maumee City Council on January 2, as Mayor Jim MacDonald was sworn into office along with two returning members of city council.
Maumee Municipal Court Judge Dan Hazard swore in the new mayor and returning city council members Gabe Barrow and Scott Noonan prior to the official 6:15 p.m. start time of the meeting. The early ceremony was necessitated by the judge’s prior commitment to appear at the Village of Whitehouse meeting to administer the oaths of office to its council members.
Newly elected Ted Kurt, who was unable to attend the meeting in person, was sworn into his first term as a Maumee City Council member by Maumee Law Director Alan Lehenbauer on January 1.
Despite his physical absence, Kurt was still able to participate in the January 2 city council meeting via telephone.
The first order of business was the election of the new Maumee City Council president for 2024. Council member Josh Harris nominated Barrow for the position, while council member Margo Puffenberger nominated Jon Fiscus.
Mayor MacDonald then called for a vote, with the following five members of council voting for Barrow: Scott Noonan, Phil Leinbach, Kurt, Harris and Barrow himself.
Fiscus and Puffenberger each voted for Fiscus.
By a 5-2 margin, Barrow was declared the new president of Maumee City Council.
Next on the agenda was the vote for the seating arrangement of council, and the council members voted unanimously to go with the seats they had selected prior to the meeting.
Seated from left to right, from the viewpoint of the audience, are Harris, Noonan, Puffenberger, Fiscus, Barrow, Leinbach and Kurt.
Council members then approved the minutes of the regularly scheduled December 18 meeting. (Editor’s Note: A full report of that meeting can be found in the January 4 issue of The Mirror.)
Also approved were the minutes of the special council meeting that took place on the morning of Saturday, December 23. That meeting consisted of a 48-minute executive session that dealt with a pending court action matter. When council members reconvened for the public portion of the meeting, no action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.
Petitions and Communications
A report submitted by Josiah Leinbach, the city’s liaison to the Maumee Valley Historical Society, was accepted and placed on file during the Petitions and Communications segment of the meeting.
The report stated that the Maumee Valley Historical Society has spent much of the past year preparing a strategic plan, with a committee led by Maumee resident Dave Westrick, with the intention of devising opportunities for future growth.
According to the report, the strategic planning committee has set the following goals:
Diversity of Funding – Ensure the long-range financial stability of the Wolcott Complex through diversified funding resources.
Collaborations – Enhance collaboration among historic sites and other nonprofits to create mutually beneficial tourism opportunities.
Evolution of Programming – Deliver a wide variety of programming opportunities that engage a diverse audience.
Community Partnerships – Explore creative, mutually beneficial partnerships that advance the Wolcott Complex’s mission.
Telling Our Story – Clearly and consistently communicate internally and externally the benefit of the Wolcott Complex, including mission and vision.
Volunteer Engagement – Enhance volunteer opportunities to engage new volunteers to ensure sustainability of the volunteer program.
During the Consent Calendar portion of the meeting, council members took the following unanimous action:
• Approved Resolution 001-2024, authorizing the sale of certain obsolete property that is no longer needed for any municipal purpose by the city. The sale of such items will take place on the internet auction site GovDeals.com.
• Authorized the city administrator to retain the services of an engineering firm to conduct a traffic speed study on the Anthony Wayne Trail between Monclova Road and Ford Street as well as from Key Street to the Ohio Turnpike.
No members of the assembled audience chose to address city council members or the administration during the Citizen Comments segment of the meeting.
During the Council Comments portion of the meeting, Barrow thanked council members for his election as president of Maumee City Council.
Barrow explained to the audience that one of the key roles of the council president is to serve as a conduit between the administration and the members of city council, working to keep the lines of communication open and to help answer any questions that council members may have concerning upcoming matters that may appear on the agenda of an upcoming meeting.
Kurt took the opportunity to thank members of the public for the many get-well cards he received while recovering from leg surgery. He also thanked Lehenbauer for taking the time on New Year’s Day to visit the skilled nursing facility where he is convalescing to administer the oath of office.
Maumee municipal clerk Lorrie Parry, who was attending her last meeting prior to her retirement, was thanked for her 19 years of service by the six members of city council who had personally benefited from her assistance.
MacDonald thanked friends and family for attending the swearing-in ceremony and said that he is looking forward to the new year.
“We have a council that really cares for this community, and I appreciate them. I am looking forward to working with them this next year,” the mayor stated.
MacDonald also thanked his mayoral predecessor Rich Carr, saying, “Rich has left the cabinet full. We have a great staff that he has put together and we have some very professional and competent people that are going to lead this city, and I am looking forward to that as well.”
MacDonald also said that in his discussions with city administrator Patrick Burtch, the two men tried to determine what the city’s greatest needs were moving forward.
“One of them, for me, was to get information out better to the public and have an avenue to be able to let people know what is going on in the city,” MacDonald said.
“So, with Patrick’s help, we brought on Nancy Gagnet as our public information officer. She will be serving in that role, moving from this day forward. Nancy is very professional and has a lot of experience in media relations, and is an excellent writer, and I am really looking forward to having her on board,” MacDonald said.
(Editor’s Note: Gagnet was the Maumee beat reporter for The Mirror for several years before leaving for a two-year reporting stint with The Blade prior to her employment with the city.)
MacDonald and Burtch also thanked Lorrie Parry for her service.
Burtch said, “I really want to take the opportunity to say happy retirement to Lorrie.”
“Lorrie, you know that you are one of the best friends that I have ever had, whether you are my assistant or not,” Burtch stated.
“The best compliment that I can ever give you is that as an assistant, you are probably the best, hardest worker that I have known in my entire career, and that’s now spanning 38 years,” Burtch said.
“The highest compliment I can give when someone asks how well somebody has worked is that she gave me things that I didn’t even know I needed to have,” Burtch stated.
“I just want you to know, my friend, it is a well-deserved retirement. I am sad to see you go, but I am happy for you and your next steps in life. Thank you,” Burtch said.
Through tears, Parry responded by saying, “Thank you, all. I do appreciate all the kind comments. I do want to say that this is the most enjoyable job that I have ever had in my life, and I am truly going to miss it.”
“I am looking forward to the next stage of my life, but this has been a wonderful experience,” Parry concluded, as members of the administration, council and the audience all rose to give her a standing ovation in appreciation of her service to the city.
The January 2 meeting of Maumee City Council lasted 24 minutes, and 14 residents were in attendance.
The next meeting of Maumee City Council is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16 in council chambers at the Maumee Municipal Building, 400 Conant St.
As always, Maumee City Council meetings are open to the public.