DeGRAFF – The DeGraff Village Council had its sixth resignation of the year during its meeting Tuesday evening when the council’s longest serving member abruptly resigned following a confrontation with the village’s zoning officer.
Chuck Bertschman, who had been on the DeGraff Village Council for more than a decade, resigned and walked out of Tuesday’s meeting after a disagreement with Zoning Officer Merle Osborne.
There had been no indication that Bertschman planned to resign prior to the meeting, interim Mayor Beth Neeley said.
“I can’t speak for him, but the council was trying to conduct business and have discussions among the council members when a member of the audience kept interjecting,” Neeley said.
Council was discussing the Quincy-DeGraff Wastewater Treatment Plant when Osborne interjected. Osborne made his official report to the council earlier in the meeting, Neeley said, and was acting as a resident when he disrupted the discussion of the wastewater treatment plant.
Moments later Bertschman quit his position and walked out of the meeting.
“He will be sorely missed in the village,” Neeley said, adding Bertschman was DeGraff’s most knowledgeable employee and did the most work of anyone for the village. “The village lost a very good employee.”
Bertschman and Osborne could not be reached for comment.
With Bertschman’s resignation, which was formally accepted later in the meeting, Dan Sibold is now DeGraff’s most senior council member. He joined the council in February 2017. Stephanie Orsborne joined council in May while Sandra Short, Tim Baker and Sharon Carman all were appointed in June.
DeGraff has had six council members, a mayor and a fiscal officer resign in 2019. Two former council members, Neeley and Kassie Staley, resigned to fill the positions of mayor and fiscal officer, respectively.
Barb Butler, Meggin Parker and Dennis Stout also resigned from council this year. Parker cited medical reasons, according to the Bellefontaine Examiner, while Butler cited “gossip” and “back stabbing” among residents.
“It concerns me quite a bit,” Neeley said of the number of resignations, “because it seems like there is an agenda to get out all these former councils that are trying to improve the village and for it to go back to the antiquated ways that it was.”
The discussion that led to the confrontation between Bertschman and Osborne centered on the wastewater treatment plant and the village’s negotiations with Quincy about operations and associated costs.
There’s a couple things to work out, Neeley said, but negotiations with Quincy on a new contract are going well.
“We’re getting everything ironed out,” she said. “The negotiations seem to be going pretty smooth.”
The next joint meeting between DeGraff and Quincy officials is set for Sept. 16. Both councils then will host meetings on Sept. 17 to hopefully approve a new deal, Neeley said.
“We’re hoping to have everything for the contract to go into effect in January,” she said.
In a separate issue, the DeGraff Village Council voted to raise water rates from $5 to $7.50 beginning in July 2020. The Board of Public Affairs hadn’t increased water rates like it was supposed to for five or more years, Neeley said, and rates had to be increased to make sure the village can operate its water treatment plant.
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