Licking County News

Pataskala

Compton will represent city on fire board

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Pataskala City Council on Jan. 10 appointed Mike Compton as the city's new representative on the West Licking Joint Fire District board.

The vote was 5-1 at the special meeting, with Bernard Brush, Compton, Mike Fox, Bryan Lenzo and Merissa McKinstry voting in favor and council President Dan Hayes dissenting. Pat Sagar was absent.

The special meeting concluded in time for Compton to attend the fire district's board meeting, which started a half-hour later. He was greeted by a placard that already included his name.

Fox on Jan. 6 initiated conversation for a special meeting by calling and emailing Hayes to remind him that City Council did not appoint a representative to the fire board at the organizational meeting Jan. 3.

Law Director Rufus Hurst said City Council could not make the appointment Jan. 3 because it was not part of the meeting agenda.

Hayes, who was acting as mayor while Steve Butcher was out of town, said he did not call a special meeting until emails among him, Fox and several others suggested there could be consensus on the appointment.

Fox, the most recent fire board representative, said in an email he might not be interested in being reappointed because of the number of meetings.

Hayes suggested Sagar for the appointment but said she would not be able to be in town for the Jan. 10 fire board meeting. Sagar served on the board before Fox was appointed.

Fox said he would not support Sagar, which brought City Council back to a potential split vote, with Sagar and Butcher, who can cast a tie-breaking vote, out of town last week, Hayes said.

"Up 'til yesterday, it was going to be a deadlock," Hayes said. "Until Mike Compton expressed interest, it was not going to be a productive meeting."

Compton said he agreed to serve on the board so the city would have representation for the fire board's first meeting in 2013.

"I felt it was important to make sure Pataskala had representation," Compton said. "It's important if you have a representative to something that you be there."

The fire board endured a controversial 2012 that culminated in the Nov. 8 dismissal of Chief David Fulmer for alleged misconduct in office and malfeasance related to personal information on personnel from his previous job that he kept on his work computer.

Fulmer was placed on administrative leave May 29 following a decision reportedly made by the fire board during a May 23 executive session. No public vote was taken at that time, prompting questions of whether the fire board acted in accordance to Ohio's open meeting laws.

Board members then met in an emergency session June 4 and voted 5-0 to place Fulmer on administrative leave.

Meanwhile, Fulmer alleged Fox was " incapable of serving objectively" on the fire board during Fulmer's investigation, citing public comments Fox made during the investigation and previous incidents that, he said, demonstrated Fox's bias against Fulmer.

The fire board's Jan. 10 meeting was routine. Board members:

* Elected Mark Van Buren as board president and Randy Foor as vice president.

* Agreed to meet at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month.

* Approved a job description for the open fire chief's position.

* Hired Steve Little as the human resources director to work for 90 days, not more than 160 hours a month. He will be paid $35 an hour. Van Buren said the board decided to contract for the services instead of hiring a full-time person.

* Approved the 2013 temporary operating budget.

* Agreed with acting Fire Chief Ken Mathews to request Fire Inspector John Singleton come back to work after injuring his knee.

Singleton has been on workers' compensation leave since the incident occurred last year. Mathews said for the time being, Singleton can work at his desk, taking phone calls and entering reports.

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