Whitehall City Council members Dec. 5 are expected to consider the nomination of a new member to the city's seven-seat parks and recreation commission.

Whitehall City Council members Dec. 5 are expected to consider the nomination of a new member to the city's seven-seat parks and recreation commission.

The appointment is necessary to fill the unexpired term of commission member Greg Thurman, who said Nov. 17 that he had resigned to avoid his possible removal by City Council at the behest of Mayor Kim Maggard.

Maggard confirmed Nov. 17 that she had personally drafted legislation that requested council remove Thurman from the commission; that legislation was never considered due to Thurman's resignation.

Thurman said he resigned because he believed council would have voted to remove him.

Councilman Wes Kantor said he was grieved by Thurman's decision.

"I think we have lost a valuable member of our commission and I am heartsick about it," said Kantor, chairman of council's parks and recreation committee.

Councilman Lee Stahley said he had no comment concerning Thurman but offered his support of both Chris Bolich and Mike Adkins, the two men nominated by the council's committee for appointment to the parks and recreation commission.

Adkins is a current member of the commission being considered for reappointment.

Councilman Van Gregg said Nov. 17 he was "aware of the possibility" that council could be asked to remove Thurman from the commission but was nevertheless "surprised that he resigned."

"(Thurman) did a great job ... but he must have felt things weren't going in the right direction," said Gregg, adding that how he or his fellow council members would have voted if Thurman had held his ground was a "null question."

In a closed meeting Nov. 16, the four Whitehall City Council members who comprise council's parks and recreation committee -- Gregg, Kantor, Stahley and Karen Conison -- recommended the appointment of Bolich and Adkins to the commission.

Council members Dec. 5 first will consider the appointment of Bolich, whose background includes volunteerism with the Whitehall Bantam Football League and as recreation manager at Defense Supply Center Columbus.

Council will wait until January to consider the reappointment of Adkins.

Thurman's resignation was immediate upon its receipt Nov. 15 in a letter to Kantor, who reportedly asked for Thurman's resignation. His term expires Dec. 31, 2017.

Adkins' term expires at the end of 2016.

"It was a tough thing to do. I'm upset that it had to come to this," said Kantor, adding he asked Thurman to resign only after advising him of Maggard's intent to seek his removal.

"I didn't want Greg to be embarrassed and go through a vote to remove him, even if the votes weren't there," said Kantor, adding he offered Thurman the opportunity to resign.

"I didn't want him to resign or to put his fate in council's hands, either."

The Nov. 16 meeting had been called to consider only applicants for Adkins' expiring term, but Thurman's resignation created an additional open seat.

Thurman, a former councilman, had served on the commission for eight years.

He and commission member Zach Wright in September publicly opposed the retirement of Parks Director Steve Carr.

Carr, in advance of a special meeting called by commission Chairman John Fetters, announced his retirement effective Dec. 31, but a majority of commission members acted to move up his retirement to Oct. 31, then voted Oct. 4 to place him on paid administrative leave for the remainder of October.

"Steve did the right thing in retiring (because he) sensed he was going to be terminated," Thurman said in October. "It's very clear the commission is now politicized. They had five votes; they had him."

Thurman reiterated last week the commission is no less politicized now.

Most recently, Thurman said he questioned Fetters' leadership as members of the commission reportedly disagreed about whether the commission should consider the mayor's input concerning their selection of a parks director.

Unlike many cities, Whitehall's parks and recreation director, according to the city charter, is under the purview of the commission rather the mayor.

"I told (Fetters) that he needed to be a leader, not just for the (commission) members in cahoots (with the administration) but to be a voice for all the (commission) members," Thurman said.

Fetters said Nov. 17 while he was saddened that Thurman resigned, the commission "needed to move forward" and "not dwell in the past."

"I have the philosophy as a leader that we need to be unified (and) I don't think Greg was able to get beyond (the dismissal of Carr)," Fetters said.

For her part, Maggard said she sought Thurman's removal from the commission via City Council because the commission needed "to be a cohesive team moving forward in a positive direction," she said.

"I appreciate Greg's service and his passion," Maggard said, but added he had "some difficulty" with proceeding ahead in a positive manner.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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