A local advocacy group that filed a petition for the removal of two Liberty Township trustees has asked for the petition to be dismissed.

A removal-for-cause hearing regarding trustees Michael Gemperline and Melanie Leneghan began July 23 and was set to continue Monday, Aug. 12.

However, the group Save Our Services opted to forego continuing to present the case in court and instead filed for a voluntary dismissal of the complaint with the clerk of courts for the Delaware County Common Pleas Court, according to an Aug. 9 press release.

The original petitions seeking the removal of the two trustees were filed July 2.

Leneghan and Gemperline have been under fire since late last year after voting to explore the possibility of replacing the township’s cross-trained fire and EMS services with Delaware County’s own exclusively EMS-trained crews, and opting not to renew the contract of longtime township medical director Warren Yamarick.

Leneghan’s four-year term as trustee ends Dec. 31. The deadline to file for her seat was Aug. 7; Leneghan’s name was not among the three candidates who filed to run, according to the Delaware County Board of Elections. The deadline for write-in candidates is Aug. 26.

Asked Aug. 7 if she would seek another term, Leneghan said, “Not at this time.” Calls, texts and emails for further comment were not returned last week and early this week.

Save Our Services spokesman Nico Franano said in a statement that while the group realizes the outcome is not what many township and Powell residents wanted, “we encourage our neighbors to continue to stay engaged and informed about the activities of elected officials that affect our community.

“Over the course of the last 10 months, the community has rallied together like never before,” Franano said. “By continuing to work together, we can ensure Liberty Township and Powell remain the attractive, vibrant, safe and unified community we all are proud to call home.”

Franano this week denied that the request for dismissal had anything to do with Leneghan’s decision not to seek re-election.

“There was an overlap between the visiting judge’s schedule and the state of Ohio election-filing deadline, but it’s just a coincidence. We had been engaged in good-faith negotiations as recommended by Judge Reece to see if we could come to a resolution (before hearings resumed).”

Franano this week also addressed rumors about Save Our Services’ alleged financial difficulties.

“We had obtained all the funding we would have needed to carry it through to a verdict,” he said. “We have been heartened by the outpouring of support of the people of Liberty Township for locally controlled fire and EMS.”

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