LAKEMORE Mayor Rick Justice spoke about his last eight years as mayor during the Dec. 16 council meeting, his final one as the leader of Lakemore.
“The job has been very special to me,” he said.
Justice told council and those attending the meeting that his feelings are mixed because it is sad to leave but he is ready for other challenges.
“It will be a big hole to fill in my life because I have been so involved in this community,” Justice said. “I will fill it with new challenges. I want to support those I am handing the torch over to if I can, because I have learned a lot along the way.”
When he first became mayor, the village was in state fiscal emergency. Officials worked with the state and came out of the financial emergency well before expected.
In 2012, the fund balance for the village was $500,000 and the general fund was in the negative of $1.1 million. Today, the general fund is in the plus $1.1 million and the total financial balance is $3 million.
“We had a huge hill to climb to get out of fiscal emergency, but we did it ahead of schedule,” said Justice. “We are a lot stronger today.”
State audit costs were very expensive because of the fiscal issues; now are greatly reduced. Justice said that Fiscal Officer Tracy Fast has gotten the finances in order and gone above and beyond to get it done.
Over the years, the village has torn down 20 blighted houses. It has worked to replace main lines, paint the high-level water tower and have done some road repair and repaving.
Restoring the Lakemore Police Department was important to the community.
Justice thanked those that have worked hard in many ways to improve the village from where it was years ago. He thanked the administration and said that Fast has been with the village for 20 years and Gene Taylor, in the Department of Public Services, has been with the department for 44 years. Justice said he thinks Police Chief Ken Ray sleeps in his uniform and, “he always has his radio on.”
Justice thanked Fire Chief Brett Reinbolt and said the chief goes above and beyond and takes on other responsibilities.
“He does more than his daily duties and he will be here for a long time,” Justice said.
He thanked the Fire Department for its dedication to the village. He said there were many others that have spent years working for the community and they have helped to keep things moving forward.
Justice thanked the community and council for their support while he was mayor. He said his family has always been behind him, his wife, children and parents and that was very meaningful to him.
Members of council thanked Justice for his service to the community throughout the years and wished him well.
• During the meeting, President of Council Rich Cole resigned as president and Councilwoman Laura Cochran was appointed to fill the position until the first meeting of the new year. Cole also resigned his position as councilman and council will be taking applications to fill the remaining two years of his term.
• Approved business included an amendment to the 2019 budget. Also approved was the 2020 budget.
• Resolutions approved by council included a long-term maintenance agreement for the storm water sewer for the school bus garage and to apply for an AMATS grant. A resolution to hire Alex Ciptak for the fire department and to promote Douglas Dunwald was approved. An AT&T contract was also approved.
The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 6, at the Municipal Building.