When the Lake Township trustees needed help preparing a job description for the position of a full-time fire chief, they turned to Bruce Moritz, the veteran chief of the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District, for his assistance.
And when they decided to hire a chief, they hired Moritz.
After an executive session Tuesday, the trustees announced they were offering the job to Moritz, pending his passing a background check and physical exam.
Moritz, who was present at the meeting and joined the trustees in the executive session, said he “would be honored to be the next fire chief of Lake Township” when asked by Melanie Bowen, chairman of the board of trustees, if he’d accept the job offer.
The trustees and command officers of the fire department on Monday interviewed six candidates, Bowen said after Tuesday’s meeting. In all, there were 15 applicants, including some from Missouri, Nevada and Georgia.
The pay range for the post is $55,000-$60,000. Bowen said details of a contract with Moritz would be completed during the trustees’ first meeting in September. Moritz is expected to start work in Lake Township after Labor Day.
The trustees said the applicants were all good candidates but trustee Richard Welling described Moritz as “head and shoulders above” the rest. “He’s a fire chief’s fire chief.”
Moritz has been a fixture in Ottawa County fire departments for decades, joining the former Clay - Genoa Volunteer Fire Department in the 1970s where he rose through the ranks.
The Genoa department was merged with the Allen Township department to form the Allen-Clay Joint District, which Moritz has headed as a full-time chief since its inception around 2000.
Moritz said he already knows many of the Lake Township department personnel as the Allen-Clay department has an aid agreement with Lake Township.
“It’s a good department,” he said of the township’s department, which has about 60 members on its roster – about 20 or so fewer than the Allen-Clay department. “We’ve worked well with this department in the past.”
He said he was ready for a “new challenge” in deciding to take the post.
Mike Hornyak, interim part-time chief of the Lake Township department, informed the trustees he was planning to step down due to the demands of his private sector job.
After Hornyak’s decision to resign, the trustees agreed to make the position full-time.
The last full-time chief to head the township department was Eric Larson, who was being paid $57,824 in 2009 when he left to accept a position with the Wood County Hospital.
Larson was hired in July, 2006, replacing Mike Buzza, who resigned a month earlier.
At the time Larson left, Bowen said the board of trustees would consider options for filling the vacated post, including let it again become a part-time position, which it was before Larson was hired.
They decided to select Todd Walters, who was deputy chief, as part-time chief. Walters was being paid $27.73 an hour when he resigned earlier this year.
Hornyak, then a deputy chief, was given a $2 raise to $18 an hour when he replaced Walters as interim chief.
Moritz recently completed a term as president of the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association.
The Allen-Clay district is opening a new fire station on N. Genoa-Clay Center Road.
While leaving the meeting Tuesday, Moritz said his call to the joint district’s board of trustees to inform it of his decision to accept the Lake Township post would be the “hardest phone call I’ll ever make.”
Razing of building
With a recent court decision to have the Woodville Mall demolished, the township trustees might pursue a similar course for an abandoned nearby building.
The City of Northwood in January filed a lawsuit against the owners of the mall, seeking to have it torn down due to health and building code violations. The Wood County Common Pleas Court issued an order Aug. 8 to have it removed.
Trustee Richard Welling said the township should consider having a building at 3700 Williston Road razed.
The building, which was built in 1971, has housed department stores and, more recently, a flea market.
According to the county auditor’s website, the building and property were last sold in May 2008 for $6.4 million.