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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Council hires Foxhoven after all

By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - Greg Foxhoven is the city's new safety service director.
Foxhoven has been serving as interim director since February. He had been denied the permanent position in a four to three vote during the July 8 council meeting.
Council president Dan Hoelscher told members during their regular meeting Monday that he would like them to reconsider the ordinance to hire Foxhoven that previously failed.
"I think it's something that is very important for the city that we get some kind of stability up here for the city office," he said. " I would like just one more try just to see if we can't get something done on this."
Hoelscher explained that according to law, any member of council who voted against the ordinance may move to reconsider the action during the next regular session.
As council president, Hoelscher can comment and share his opinion, but he only votes in the event of a tie.
Council member Jim Harris, who had voted against hiring Foxhoven, moved to reconsider. Councilman John Bubp seconded and the ordinance passed by a four to three vote with Dennis Vossler, Ron Ginter and Bill Slemmons maintaining their no vote.
Harris said he changed his position because the city needs stability and leadership more than it needs an engineer in the director's seat. The ordinance to hire Foxhoven waives the city's requirement that the director hold an engineering license and live within city limits. Foxhoven served as police chief for 9 1/2 years and lives about a mile outside the city.
"First and foremost I think we need an engineer-type in there," he said after the meeting. "However, in less than two years we lost three safety service directors ... I finally had to sit down and say what's best for the city, and what this city needs is leadership."
Harris said he still has some concerns that Foxhoven will struggle with the technical end of the job but believes he has the leadership and management skills to handle the responsibility well.
Vossler, Ginter and Slemmons previously said they believe the safety service director requirements were established for a reason and council would be setting a bad example to the community and future councils by sidestepping those rules.
Vossler and Ginter on Monday seemed upset that Hoelscher requested the action.
"I just wish it would have been a member of the council that brought it up, not you," Vossler said to Hoelscher. "I think you overstepped your bounds ... I don't think you followed procedure correctly, and I think if (law director) Kraig (Noble) looked at it, I think maybe, you shouldn't have said anything."
Noble said he did look at it and believes Hoelscher could bring it up and recommend but just couldn't make the motion.
"I can't vote, but I can comment and that's all I did," Hoelscher said.
Hoelscher said he appreciated everyone's votes and considerations.
Foxhoven said he appreciates the opportunity and thanked council for reconsidering.
"The last six months have been ... a roller coaster ride," he said. "I'm happy to have some closure to it and I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve."
Mayor Pat McGowan said council members made the right decision.
"I'm happy with the results because Greg brings great stability to the job," he said.
Foxhoven's salary will be about $1,540 per week. He will take over the position permanently in mid-August. Foxhoven replaced former director Eric Ostling, who was fired in January. McGowan would not give a reason for Ostling's dismissal, saying only that he wanted to go in another direction.
Ostling, formerly of Chesterfield, Mich., replaced former safety service director Jason Little, of Washington Courthouse, who resigned Oct. 29 after seven months on the job. Little replaced Tom Hitchcock, who resigned the position at the end of 2011 to take over as safety service director in Celina.
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