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Village Council— New AVM on the job soon

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At their Dec. 1 meeting, Village Council members unanimously approved a contract with John Yung of Cincinnati as the new assistant Village manager. Yung, 31, currently works as zoning administrator for the City of Bellevue, Ky. He’ll start his new position on Jan. 5.

Yung has “a creative energy and a desire to try new things,” according to search committee member and urban planner Chris Bongorno this week. “He has the potential to bring new ideas as well as the competence he’s shown with things he’s already done.”

About 60 people applied for the position, according to Village Manager Patti Bates this week, out of whom 20 had both the desired experience and education. The search committee — Bates, Village Finance Director Melissa Vanzant, Bongorno, and Lois McKnight, community development director in Deerfield Township — reviewed those 20 and selected five for interviews. Four finalists were interviewed and one dropped out before the top two choices, Yung and Anthony Foster of Richmond, Ind., were selected to continue the process in a meet and greet with the public two weeks ago.

After receiving input from citizens who attended the event, Bates recommended Yung for the job because he seemed a “better fit for Yellow Springs,” she wrote in an email this week, due to his experience working in a small town, his education, his intention to move to town and his “general attitude toward Yellow Springs as a community.”

In an interview after Monday’s Council meeting, Yung described the village as “one of the small towns you want to work for.” Aware of Yellow Springs since his college days, he has been a frequent visitor to local art galleries and shops.

Raised in Lebanon, Ohio, Yung graduated from Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. He received a masters in community planning from the University of Cincinnati.

In Bellevue, Yung was deeply involved in a year-long public process in which citizens developed a form-based zoning code to “implement the city’s vision,” he said. A town of about 6,000, Bellevue shares many attributes with Yellow Springs, he said, and both towns are now coming out of the recession with the opportunity to “look at different ways to build a more sustainable economy.” Yung advocates the Strong Town philosophy of development, which on its website states that “enduring prosperity cannot be created artificially from the outside but must be built from within.”

Yung sees Yellow Springs as a “town with the good bones to create a more stable future.” The “good bones” are the village’s assets, he said, including its walkability, vibrant downtown, accessibility to nature and “a lot of the great neighborhood features you find in cities.”

Yellow Springs has not had an assistant manager since 2000. While money for the position was added to the Village budget at the request of former manager Mark Cundiff several years ago, Cundiff ended up leaving for a new job before the position was filled. The assistant manager will combine the responsibilities of several previous positions, according to Bates, including planning/zoning, code enforcement and economic development. According to the contract approved Monday night, Yung will be paid $65,000 yearly.

Monday night, Yung said he is currently looking for a place to rent in town.

In other Council Dec. 1 business:
• Village Solicitor Chris Conard announced that the police department is in the final stages of a disciplinary review of Sergeant Naomi Penrod, and the process will end in about two weeks. Penrod was accused by villager Athena Fannin of improper behavior on Nov. 5, when Sgt. Penrod attempted to interfere with the filming of an eviction process and, according to Fannin, “manhandled” her.
Penrod is exercising her right to have a third-party disciplinary hearing, and Police Chief Lew Wilcox of Enon will preside over the hearing. The third-party option is offered to ensure fairness, Conard said.

A criminal investigation into the incident, initiated by Fannin, will be led by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, according to Manager Bates.

During citizens’ concerns, villager Zo Van Eaton-Meister expressed her concern that Sgt. Penrod is still on the job, even while being investigated.

“We cannot allow officers with questionable behavior to have a gun and a badge,” Van Eaton-Meister said.

Van Eaton-Meister also questioned the current search process for a new police chief, in that the two local candidates for the job, Officer Dennis Nipper and Officer David Meister, Van Eaton-Meister’s husband, have already been eliminated as candidates. At the October community policing forum, the “prevailing desire” among participants was that the new chief be local, Van Eaton-Meister said.
In response, Manager Bates said that she agrees the new chief should be “invested in the community,” and that she and the search committee are taking seriously concerns heard at the community forum.

“Please be assured I’m doing as much as I can to take all these things into consideration,” Bates said.

• Council unanimously approved the first reading of the 2015 Village budget.

• Council approved a 1 percent cost of living increase for Village staff. While Bates had initially recommended a 2 percent increase, the current deficit spending in the 2015 budget calls for a smaller increase, according to Bates, who expressed regret about the change. Council members and Bates stated their appreciation for Village staff and agreed to revisit the issue at mid-year.

• Council approved the second reading of an increase in rates for basic solid waste services. The increase is for $1.56 monthly.

• A readiness for service charge of about $5.70 a month for the first 1,000 gallons of sewer service was approved by Council. The increase is necessary to keep the sewer fund in the black, according to Council President Karen Wintrow.

• Council approved supplemental appropriations for the 2014 budget of about $207,000 in both the general and enterprise funds. The additional money was the result of some budget items that were understated in this year’s budget, according to Bates, including about $105,000 needed for repairs to the library roof.

• In her manager’s report, Bates announced that the downtown sidewalk project is now complete and the Cemetery Street project is nearing completion.

• Council’s next meeting is Monday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.


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