GAMBIER — Members of Gambier Village Council went into executive session following their regular monthly meeting Monday night, in order to discuss the applications received for the open village administrator position. The executive session was led by Mayor Kachen Kimmell and interim administrator Dave Martin, with Kimmell stating that no action would be taken after the closed-door session.
Earlier Monday, Kimmell discussed the status of the administrator search.
The Village of Gambier has received 32 applications for its open village administrator position, with Kimmell offering that the process of paring down applicants — a list of possible semifinalists and then what she believes will be between three and as many as seven finalists — is in its beginning stages.
Before the posting, Kimmell said she would be pleased if 20 qualified applications were received. Among the criteria was the requirement that each administrator applicant have 10 years of municipal government experience or its equivalent.
“It’s very exciting for the village to have this many applicants,” Kimmell said. “I think this was a successful search and one advertised extensively.”
Kimmell said she was surprised that nearly all of the applicants were men. Only three women have applied. She did not wish to speculate as to the reason but offered that the criteria established were fair to all potential candidates.
Kimmell said she and interim administrator Dave Martin will initially pare down administrator candidates by reviewing applications and determining those that do not fully meet the village’s qualifications as outlined in the advertising.
Although an initial paring down of some applicants has not occurred, “we have some ideas,” she offered. She and Martin plan to involve the village’s Police and Personnel Committee in the paring down process, which consists of councilors Leeman Kessler, Juan Pastor and Phil Brooks.
Because three holidays have been involved during the applicants’ reviews and candidate selection process — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — Kimmell said she does not anticipate the village selecting a new administrator until Feb. 1 at the earliest. The successful candidate will replace Suzanne Hopkins, who resigned this past August under a cloud of questions involving a state Environmental Protection Agency investigation.
In open session Monday the council approved by a 6-0 vote an agreement between the Village of Gambier and Agri-Sludge, Inc., for wastewater facilities management, subject to engineering and village solicitor review. Council members discussed the new, three-year agreement with Agri-Sludge, which took over wastewater management this past June. The agreement will cost the village $2,750 per week and will save the village $181 per week by not having to manage the system with village employees, Kimmell said. The agreement may also save the amount of time the new village administrator would have to spend managing the wastewater treatment plant once he or she is employed.
Council noted that the agreement calls for Agri-Sludge to handle sludge for the village, meaning Gambier will no longer be charged for sludge storage at the treatment plant. The village approved an expenditure of $14,000, instead of $10,000, for that purpose due to the cold weather requiring that sludge be stored at the treatment plant. Normally, it would be spread on agricultural fields.
Council also heard from Kenyon College’s Mark Kohlman, chief business officer, that the college is set to turn over property under lease to the new Chilito’s Restaurant on Dec. 17, located at 108 Gaskin Ave near Woodside Drive. He expects it to open some time in January. The Chilito’s restaurant space of about 2,300 square feet will be operated by Fiesta Mexicana owner Jose Avalos at the former market site. The restaurant will be able to seat approximately 60 patrons, Kohlman said, and will include a bar and patio.
Council also heard from councilman Phil Brooks about the status of the village website, which lacks consistent updating. Included has been inconsistent posting of public meetings, such as Monday’s council meeting, which was not posted. The village is looking for an IT person who can make improvements to the site and allow it to be updated more effectively, he said.