John Wilson, 84, Archbold, came before the German Township Trustees at their Monday, July 24 meeting, to ask them his two questions about the Archbold Fire Department debate.
Just as he did with Archbold Village Council at its Monday, July 10 meeting, Wilson asked Randy Ruffer and Bruce Lauber, the two members in attendance, where they stand on the issue and why they felt that way.
Kenneth “Skip” Leupp was not at the meeting.
“Our primary objective is to continue the (fire) services that has been. You have read the Buckeye, and you are aware that they (Archbold Village Council members) say they’re concerned about public safety– as if we haven’t been,” said Lauber.
“From the get-go… the very first meeting we had, we said that we would never compromise (public safety).
“We met three times– at the fire station, here (German township garage), and in council chambers. And on all three occasions, we have walked away… giving them basically what they had asked for, only to find out at a later date that it wasn’t acceptable to them.
“They say we drew a line in the sand. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not the case.”
Lauber went on to say the trustees had made “umpteen attempts to work with them (council).
“I have… met with Donna (Dettling, village administrator) on many occasions trying– the two of us– to work through this.
“Then I’d come back to our people, and she’d take it to their people.
“I still think it could be resolved. And that’s what I’m going for.”
Ruffer told Wilson first of all, he represents the people of the community.
“I’m a German Township Trustee, and I’ve been put in the position to represent them, and that’s what I feel I’ve done, is to approach the people to see where they’re at.
“I’ve spent a lot of time talking with a lot of people, trying to understand where they’re at and how they feel about it,” he said.
Ruffer said he felt the debate between the trustees and the council has devolved into personal attacks.
“That, to me, is the part that’s gotten out of hand.”
Ruffer said the Archbold Fire Department is second to none.
He said he doesn’t know of any problem with the fire department that would justify Archbold taking it over.
“I wish I knew there was a problem,” Ruffer said.
“This, to me– it would make this a lot easier if I had firemen complain to me because we’re doing a rotten job, or I had people in the public complaining that somebody’s doing a rotten job, or money is not being spent right, or decisions are bad…
“They (council) are tired of working with us. So, well, okay, what’s going to change if you own the fire department or if the boundaries (between the village and the township) are changed?
“We’re still German Township all the way around you. You’re going to use our roads, we’re going to use yours, you’re going to want to annex land (into the village), and we’re going to have to work together on that, and there’s still a fire department.
“Those are the issues we work together on, so I don’t see how any of that is going to change” if the village is separated from the township, or if the village owns the fire department, he said.
Wilson presented two suggestions.
The first was to follow the example of school districts considering new building projects. Develop initial plans, then have community get-togethers, present the plans, and ask for input.
Wilson added, “I don’t see that happening here.” But Ruffer wasn’t ready to give up on the idea all together. Later in the meeting, he asked what such a meeting might look like.
Wilson said it would have to be a joint meeting between the trustees and the council in an open public session.
Wilson’s other idea was a mediator.
“The water is so clouded at this point that I’m not sure that the best filter is going to filter it all out,” said Wilson.
Just as he did with council, he suggested Shalom Ministries or James Barber, retired Fulton County Common Pleas Court judge.
He said he talked to Barber about the idea. Barber agreed to be suggested as a mediator, Wilson said.
Ruffer and Lauber said they were not opposed to a mediator.
“Do you think they (council) are responsive to that?” Ruffer asked.
Wilson said he would rather not comment other than to say, “It’s worth a try.”
“Do you think we are the ones to approach them?” Ruffer asked.
“Somebody’s got to start it. And I would suggest you do it in an open meeting,” Wilson said.
Wilson told the trustees, “You know what? This whole thing is in God’s hands, and if we, as individuals, decide we’re going to take hold of it, we’ve got problems.
“And that’s why we’ve got a problem.
“I don’t need to say anymore.”