Johnstown Village Council has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the termination of manager Judy Edwards for Thursday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m.

Johnstown Village Council has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the termination of manager Judy Edwards for Thursday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m.

Edwards requested a hearing in emails Nov. 18, after council had indicated its intention to suspend and remove her the following day. Edwards also notified council that she was seeking protection under "whistleblower" laws.

The law protects government employees who report what they believe to be a violation of a law or regulation, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, according to the Wikipedia definition

The village is required to hold a hearing if one is requested.

"It's mandatory under the terms of the charter if she requests it," said law director David Wigginton. "It has to be scheduled no sooner than 10 days after the date of the resolution of suspension and no later than 15 days after the date of the suspension."

The hearing is not a court proceeding, but will be similar in nature.

"I believe it is up to council to decide the format," Wigginton said. "There is nothing in the charter that limits the way the evidence is presented. I'll give them recommendations if they ask. It may be an issue that will be argued."

The Ohio Revised Code provides some requirements for the governance of so-called statutory municipalities, but charter municipalities such as Johnstown have leeway to set their own requirements.

"There is nothing in the charter that describes the procedure," Wigginton said. "I assume they'll be asking me for advice about that. It's a hearing, that's how it's described in the charter, based upon the resolution council set forth suspending the manager. I believe we have some leeway, but it's an opportunity to present information to council and then they make a decision."

Edwards was terminated Nov. 19 at a special council meeting, in a resolution that set forth nine grounds of misconduct or mismanagement. Most of the grounds listed occurred in October and November, as tensions developed between council and the manager over plans to reconfigure the roadway access between the village industrial park and U.S. Route 62.

Private and local government consultants had recommended that the village construct a temporary access route through Sportsman Club Road, which would receive a traffic light at U.S. Route 62. Commerce Boulevard, the only current access point to the park, was recommended to be changed to a right-in, right-out only intersection.

During the course of meetings on the project, Edwards became aware that council members Sean Staneart and Chris Speck either had interest in land that would be affected by the intersection plans or family members whose interests would be affected.

Edwards submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the Ohio Ethics Commission on Nov. 8.

In the resolution terminating Edwards, council stated that Edwards' conduct had caused "members to lose trust in the information provided by the village manager."