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The Press Newspaper

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The new director of the Ottawa Regional Planning Commission has roots in Perrysburg.

Joe Gerber was hired as executive director of the office on the first floor of the Ottawa County Courthouse on Sept 20. He officially began work Sept. 24 and will be paid an annual salary of $48,000, according to Ottawa County Commissioners minutes.

Gerber succeeds Todd Bickley, the director who retired Sept. 28 after compiling 30 years of service.

Bickley worked for the county for 29 years but had accumulated an additional year of credit for all the years of coaching he had under his belt, said Pam Courtney, Ottawa County Human Resources director. Bickley has spent many years in the basketball programs developed for elementary and middle school age children in the Port Clinton School District as well as other coaching duties.

Bickley began his service with regional planning on Feb. 15, 1983. He worked under the direction of then director Walter Wehenkel. When Wehenkel retired several years ago, county commissioners tapped Bickley, the commission’s assistant director, to fill the position.

Wehenkel came back to the office for a time as the assistant director but had since left.

He will return again as commissioners opted to hire him at a $28 per hour, part-time as needed as a consultant to help Gerber get acclimated to the position, Courtney confirmed Tuesday.

The chief duties of the director involve managing the office, ensuring of compliance with state and federal grants, overseeing land issues -  including subdivision and land use zoning case reviews as well as preparation of plans relating to townships , village and county land use issues – and providing Census clearinghouse resources.

Gerber, a Fremont resident and native of Perrysburg, is not a stranger to the courthouse. Prior to this hiring, he had worked as an assistant prosecutor in the office of Ottawa County Prosecutor Mark Mulligan. He had worked here since 2010, shortly after graduating from law school at the University of Toledo. He spent his undergraduate years at Ohio State University.

Gerber said he was interested in the regional planning commission position for several reasons, including the fact he had worked on some property-related cases as a lawyer which he found interesting.

He was one of 11 applicants who applied for the job, according to Courtney.

The job search was an open-ended one, meaning commissioners did not set a deadline for applications, Courtney said. One other candidate had been seriously considered but negotiations did not pan out with that person, she noted.

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