Boardman panel starts year off in familiar fashion: with tension

Kathy Miller was unsuccessful in her attempt to become vice chairman.
BOARDMAN -- Reorganization votes Monday by Boardman Township trustees reinforced the status quo on the three-member board -- in more ways than one.
After the two votes were conducted, Elaine Mancini retained her post as chairwoman, and Thomas Costello also won the right to be vice chairman for the rest of the year.
And based on some of the discussion during the reorganization votes, as well as during other parts of the first meeting of 2005, the rocky relationship between Trustee Kathy Miller and her fellow trustees also seems likely to continue.
It started off innocently enough.
Mancini said she wanted to keep possession of the chair's gavel, and there was no discussion as the three trustees voted unanimously to keep Mancini for another year.
But discussion about the position of vice-chairman created sparks.
Miller, who has recently argued with board members about use of a computer and has said she believes Costello and Mancini are blocking attempts to perform her job, said she was interested in being vice chairman.
Costello said he, too, wanted the job.
"You had it last year, and it only seems to be reasonably fair for me to now have a chance to be involved," Miller said.
Costello replied, "The chair and vice-chair need to [be] a cohesive group and build a consensus, and I think that right now I can do that more than you."
"Obviously," Miller replied, "that is your opinion."
Costello won the position with a 2-1 vote. Miller cast the dissenting vote.
Termite protection pact
In other business, the trustees unanimously approved a one-year termite protection agreement for the Fire Prevention Office, for nearly $1,600, and $5,100 to put new furnaces into the building.
Those votes triggered a discussion on the general condition of the prevention office, as well as the main fire station, and some more tension among Miller, Mancini and Costello.
Both facilities need a variety of repairs, Fire Chief James Dorman said. He said the department's first priority was to rebuild and renovate the other two fire stations, and in the meantime, the fire prevention office and main station have deteriorated quickly in the past nine months to a year.
Miller repeatedly asked the chief and board members how the buildings could develop wiring problems, have water running into an electrical box and some of the other problems discovered during a December inspection.
Even as Administrator Curt Seditz asked the board for permission to have an engineering firm survey the buildings to come up with an idea of whether they should be renovated or rebuilt, Miller continued to ask how the situation got so serious and who was to blame, saying it was important that such an oversight not be repeated.
"We addressed it as soon as it was brought to our attention," a clearly exasperated Mancini replied. "Do you want to ask the chief who it is [to blame] so you can beat him up?" she asked Miller.
The board approved Seditz‚ request and Dorman said he was addressing the wiring and other issues as quickly as possible.

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