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Trustees plan to rehire firefighter

Must first hold public hearing, vote

March 2, 2017
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Austintown Township trustees at Monday's meeting held a public hearing segment for anyone wishing to comment on the rehiring of Austintown firefighter Walter Donitzen Jr.

After several years with the fire department, Donitzen was notified by the Public Employees Retirement System that if he did not take his retirement in December 2016, he would risk losing benefits, according to information presented by township Administrator Mike Dockry.

Donitzen was informed that he could apply for retire-rehire, if his employer allowed it.

Dockry also read a letter from fire Chief Andy Frost that stated how valuable Donitzen was to the fire department.

"He has saved the township a lot of money by handling repairs, working on small motors and hydraulic pumps," Dockry said. "The younger guys being hired don't come in with those skills."

He said Donitzen also had welding skills and worked with plumbing.

"Without him is a blow to our department," assistant fire Chief Bob Williams said.

The township can rehire Donitzen as a "re-employed retirant," but only after a public hearing followed by a vote of trustees.

A public comment segment was included in Monday's meeting, and the actual vote to rehire will take place at the March meeting. Donitzen will be hired without benefits, but he will get benefits through his retirement and will collect his retirement in full.

"We follow the law," Trustee Ken Carano said. "Otherwise he would have already been hired."

Trustee Jim Davis said he got to know Donitzen in his seven years in office. He said Donitzen is the type of man who will take the time to teach younger firefighters how things work and how to repair them.

On a different matter, trustees approved Laura Wolfe and Davis as candidates to the Mahoning County tax incentive review council. As a candidate, both will sit in on the March 20 meeting, where Mahoning County commissioners will review the tax incentives for businesses in the township.

In other business:

Park Supervisor Todd Shaffer mentioned the March 16 Coffee and Canvas event 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Township Park. Participants can enjoy coffee while creating a painting. Proceeds from the event will benefit the 2017 Austintown Farmers Market at the park;

Shaffer also mentioned that Mike Galle from Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course contributed $2,000 to become a sponsor of the Austintown Township Park's summer concert series; and

Trustees approved declaring four properties as nuisances as well as two inoperable vehicles located at 114 Carnegie Ave.



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