Port Clinton administrators on unpaid leave

PORT CLINTON The city safety-service director and service department supervisor were both placed on
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

PORT CLINTON

The city safety-service director and service department supervisor were both placed on unpaid administrative leave following Tuesday's council meeting.

Safety-Service Director Rich Babcock and Service Department Supervisor Kenneth Heschel were each put on unpaid leave after the city conducted an internal investigation.

"Pending the city's ongoing investigation, further employment decisions will be made after this point," Mayor Tom Brown said. The investigation "is not yet completed."

Heschel and Babcock could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Brown and acting City Auditor Steve Benko declined to comment as to why Heschel and Babcock were placed on administrative leave.

"I can't comment on that at this time," Brown said. "We don't want to compromise the investigation."

During last week's work session, Brown told council members Marshall & Melhorn, LLC, a Toledo law firm, would head up the investigation.

The law firm will interview a couple of city employees today to collect more information regarding the investigation, Benko said. He declined to give the names of the individuals who will be interviewed.

Councilman Glenn Chapman asked if a temporary or interim safety-service director would be appointed.

"I can't comment on that," Brown responded.

In the meantime, Brown and Jenn Burris, the city administrative assistant, will fulfill the duties of the safety-service position.

Brown said he is more than qualified to fill the role for the time being.

"I've been around for almost 20 years. I think I know almost anything," Brown said. "I have qualified resources and contractors who can advise me."

Without the safety-service director, council might be hurting since Babcock was intimately familiar with several city projects, Councilman Jeff Morgan said.

"I guess a lot of us put a lot of trust into administrators," Morgan said. "I guess knowing that that trust has been misplaced, maybe we need to look at things a little bit tougher."

Brown said more information would be available at the next council meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28.

"I want to be sure that we keep the people informed as much as we are permitted," Brown said.

Babcock has been employed with the city for more than 30 years and worked in the water department before becoming safety-service director.

Heschel has been employed by the city for about 30 years.