Thursday, November 16, 2000

Symmes Township official is let go

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SYMMES TOWNSHIP — Trustees here have decided not to renew the contract of township Administrator Steve Grote, who has held the post for 17 months.

        He will remain in the position through Dec. 31.

        Trustees made the decision public this week. The three-member board voted 2-1 against renewing Mr. Grote's contract, said trustees President Kathy Wagner. She voted to keep Mr. Grote.

        Mr. Grote said he was hired under an agreement that he would fill the administrator's position for part of 1999 and all of 2000, and that commitment has been honored by trustees. He declined to elaborate on the trustees' decision not to keep him.

        “The decision was made in (private) executive session, so I can't get into specifics, but it was basically a difference of opinion about Steve's performance,” Mrs. Wagner said.

        Trustee Eric Minamyer said the administrator “failed to meet my expectations.” While Mr. Minamyer also declined to cite specifics, he said Mr. Grote took too long to meet goals he was given, should have been more diplomatic in some dealings with trustees and citizens, and used poor judgment on occasion.

        Mrs. Wagner said: “As president of the board, I worked the closest with Steve and probably met with him every day. There are a lot of big projects going on in the township ... and he was a hands-on administrator, almost a project manager on development of our new Humphrey Meadows Park. He was not afraid to get his hands dirty, and I wanted to continue to work with him.”

        Besides the park project, Mrs. Wagner said Mr. Grote was key to advancing the township's interests on the pending Montgomery Road widening through the community by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and was impressive in dealing with neighborhood issues.

        Trustee Mike Gentry noted “the township administrator serves at the pleasure of the board.”

        Mr. Gentry said he weighed how he feels the administrator should act and serve the township, “and I felt more comfortable saying no in this situation than yes.”

        Mrs. Wagner said trustees have retained a firm to conduct a search for a new administrator and that she expects the position to be filled before Mr. Grote's contract ends.

        Mr. Grote, 46, was a trustee in Green Township in western Hamilton County from 1991 to 1995 and then township clerk. He assumed the $60,000 administrator's post here in August 1999.

        He filled the position held by C.W. “Bill” Bercaw, who resigned in June 1999 after nine years in the job.


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