Hilliard is accepting applications on its website for a deputy director of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department after James Gant resigned effective Feb. 26, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

The city is accepting applications through Monday, March 30, at hilliardohio.gov, Ball said.

Gant had served as deputy director since Aug. 5, 2019, when Mayor Don Schonhardt was still in office and hired him.

In a letter to City Manager Michelle Crandall, Gant wrote he was resigning his position and that his last day was Feb. 26.

The letter was tendered to Crandall on Feb. 26, Ball said.

“Thank you for the opportunity to work in this position,” Gant wrote. “I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities I have had with the city. I have learned so much while being here. I wish the city of Hilliard continued success.”

Gant's annual salary was $94,500 and the annual value of his benefits was $41,047, according to Ball.

Before being hired by Hilliard, Gant had served as Prairie Township’s recreation director since 2014.

Recreation and parks director Ed Merritt is expected to make a hiring recommendation to Crandall, Ball said.

The new hire requires Crandall’s approval, “but she will rely heavily on (Merritt’s) recommendation,” Ball said.

Merritt said he will seek a candidate “who will serve as a leader to our programmers” and someone “who can play a significant role in helping the city as we go through the process of updating our recreation and parks master plan.”

“The ideal deputy director will have experience in park development, park operation and project management, all of which are key qualities we will need in the coming years,” Merritt said.

Gant had succeeded Heather Ernst as the deputy director. The position had been vacant since Ernst resigned in late 2017 and was named in a theft investigation of more than $540,000 from the city’s pool-admission receipts.

In October 2018, Ernst pleaded guilty to theft in office and attempted tampering with records. She was ordered to pay $271,898, plus court costs of $268.

She served a year in prison and was released in December. In January, Hilliard leaders settled a civil lawsuit against Ernst for $350,000.

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