Wintersville mayor stepping down
WINTERSVILLE — After leading the village for more than 15 years, Mayor Bob Gale has announced he will be stepping down after April 30.
In submitting his resignation to Wintersville Council on April 1, Gale said his decision was prompted by his new role as director of the Jefferson County Board of Elections and other factors.
“Of course, I will be here to assist in a smooth transition and will always be available for advice and guidance. I want to thank everyone here that had made the job so rewarding. I want to thank the residents for their trust and faith in me,” Gale said. “I hope I have made a positive impact on this community. It was always important for me to make things better than they were before me. I believe I have done just that.”
Following the meeting, he said he chose to resign at this time so the mayor’s seat could be placed on ballots in the Nov. 2 general election.
“I thought it was important for me to give the people that choice,” Gale said.
Individuals have until Aug. 4 to declare their candidacy for two years remaining in Gale’s unexpired term, as well as four council seats. The winners will take office on Jan. 1.
Until then, the mayor’s seat will be filled by Council President Robbie Martin, who may seek election to the office.
Martin was among council members who said Gale will be greatly missed.
“It’s going to be a tough row to hoe because he’s been a great leader,” said Martin, who added, “I’m looking forward to taking over the job with his (Gale’s) help.”
Councilman Jason Mattern said the news was unexpected.
“What a shocker — didn’t see that coming,” he said before joining others in wishing Gale well in his future endeavors.
A Wintersville native and 1981 graduate of Wintersville High School, Gale reflected on the course of his public service and the many village officials and staff with whom he has worked.
He said he’d returned to his home community after living and working in the Pittsburgh area for about 16 years when village leaders were embroiled in major funding problems. After coming to the current council with proposed changes, he found it best to seek a seat on the panel himself.
“Fortunately, I along with Jason Mattern, Bob Cochran and Robbie Martin were successful in winning our seats and began what has been a great 15-and-a-half years of public service to the residents, businesses and employees of Wintersville. Two years after becoming a councilman, I was encouraged to run for the position of mayor and was successful,” Gale said.
He acknowledged present and past council members — including Phyllis Foreman and Bob Merriman, who was appointed to his council seat, as well as current and former police chiefs and department heads and staff Ed Laman, Art Fowler, Carol Kennedy, Denise Geangel, Perry Pool, Vern Jackson, Lou Herzick, Bruce Snyder and Deb Carney.
Gale also reflected on the invaluable support of his late wife, Janine, including during 10 years of serious illness, in which he missed just one meeting, and his son, Barry.
“The support he has shown to me all these years has been remarkable. I worked hard every day to be that role model that I want him to aspire to be. And through it all, he has continued to make me proud,” he said.
Gale noted it’s often the actions of a community in bad times that reveal its true character.
“We all came together when the Colonial Baptist Church was destroyed by fire. The fundraising steak fry at the high school to help raise money to replace the items the children of that church lost was amazing. Another unfortunate fire took the life of Clarence West. We all came together to support his family and the students he instructed.”
Gale added that following two fires at the Meridian Greene apartment complex, residents came together to assist senior citizens there.
Following the meeting, Gale said he will look back on his tenure as mayor favorably.
“I enjoyed it. I love Wintersville and I enjoyed the fact I was able to help people,” he said.
In other business:
It was announced the village will hold its annual spring cleanup in June.
Residents whose garbage is picked up on Tuesdays should leave their bulky refuse out on June 7. Those with Wednesday garbage pickups should do so on June 14. Those with Thursday garbage pickups should do so on June 21, and those with Friday garbage pickups should do so on June 28.
The following items won’t be accepted: Electronics, household batteries, food waste and other normal household waste, leaves or grass clippings, construction materials, demolition debris, mattresses or box springs, paint, liquids, hazardous waste or items containing freon.
Council supported the purchase of salt to treat ice-and snow-covered roads through a vendor selected for a state contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Gale said based on salt used in each of the last two years, 1,500 tons will be purchased.
He and Village Administrator Walt Ziemba noted the village used about 1,800 tons this winter but had about 600 tons left from the previous winter.
Through separate resolutions, council again supported the village’s commitment to maintaining street markings and traffic signs along state Route 43 and clearing and plowing it in winter.
Gale noted ODOT assumes responsibility for its paving.
It was announced council’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 6 at the Municipal Building.