Dublin Villager

Washington Township

Fire chief, administrator transitions running smoothly

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If everything goes according to plan, residents won't notice the change in leadership at Washington Township.

As the township welcomes new leadership in the form of township administer Sara Ott and Fire Chief Alec O'Connell the hope is services offered to residents won't miss a beat.

"They've been preparing so residents won't see changes in services," Ott said. "There's been lot of cross training."

Ott is the first administrator the township has had in 14 years. She started in April.

O'Connell took the reigns of the fire department when former Chief Al Woo retired in May.

Ott brings experience from Dublin as a senior project manager and O'Connell has been with the Washington Township Fire Department for 25 years.

"When the trustees decided to create and re-establish the township administrator position, they were looking for someone who could assist with coordination across the organization and bring financial assistance and leadership and strategy for the community," Ott said.

"That's what they've asked me to focus on."

The responsibilities the township trustees have placed on Ott will have her specifically look into zoning and parks and recreation services, as well as the fiscal position of the township.

"Strategic planning is big so the community can know where the organization is going," she said.

A major focus will be the fire department, which is the primary service offered by Washington Township.

In 2013, the fire department answered 4,660 calls, a 5-percent increase over 2012. Of those calls, 73 percent were for EMS services.

"Dublin is still growing so that number will increase," Ott said.

Planning for growth has been on the minds of both Ott and O'Connell, who said statistics and run times are constantly analyzed to ensure the best service.

"It helps paint a picture for the future," O'Connell said. "We're on location in under 8 minutes."

When the call time starts to creep to 8 minutes, however, the fire department will look into a new station. The township already owns land for another station near the Jerome and McKitrick roads intersection.

"We already planned to relocate manpower," O'Connell said. "All we need is money for construction and the operation (of the station)."

While the new leadership isn't expecting residents to see many changes, O'Connell said the fire department is always on the lookout for ways to better serve the community.

"Our general focus is to always put the public first," he said, adding that they work to answer and address all questions they get from the community.

"If we see additional ways to help the public, we'll do it. We'll help in any way. That focus has not changed. ... We want to make sure the people who pay us and support us get what they need."

As a resident and a township employee, Ott said that's exactly what she's seen in her short months on the job so far.

"I have a great impression of how things are done here," she said. "Everyone is dedicated to the community and that shows in how things are done."

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