RIPLEY — After weeks of deliberations, Ripley’s village council has selected its new solicitor.
In a close 3-2 vote, members of council appointed Thomas Mayes of McConn and Cutrell to be the village’s new solicitor, with former solicitor Jay Cutrell’s retirement going into effect on June 30.
Council members Dave Otis and Daniel Dragoo voted no, while Roberta Sidwell, Nowana Bingamon and Linda South voted yes. Councilman Charles Poole was absent from the meeting.
“The reason (we picked Mayes) is because Jay has been here 28 years and knows this business like the back of his hand,” Ripley Mayor Tom Leonard said, adding that it didn’t surprise him the vote wasn’t unanimous.
“Tom is working for Jay, and when Jay steps down, he already said he would endorse him 100 percent,” Leonard said. “If he needed any help whatsoever, Tom or I can call him and he will help. That’s what I’m looking at.”
Leonard said Mayes beat out four other candidates for the position.
Dragoo said he voted no “because I thought one of the other candidates was more qualified.”
It was not clear from the village council meeting whether or not Mayes would be earning the same salary as Cutrell.
Mayes, who begins his term with McConn and Cutrell on July 1, is originally from Jamestown, and graduated from Greenview High School nearby. He attended Ohio Valley University in West Virginia for his undergraduate degree and then received his law degree from Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala.
Mayes is a member of the U.S. Army National Guard as a combat medic and a JAG officer and spent a year-and-a-half working in the law offices of Danny Bubp. Last November, he took a job at Faulkner again as the director of admissions for the law school, but last month he made the move back to Brown County and plans to put down roots here.
In addition to selecting the solicitor, village council also heard from its administrator, Pete Renshaw.
Renshaw discussed the second street streetscape project currently underway by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and said the first phase of the project had been completed.
“The second street repair project is most of the way complete now except for the milling,” Renshaw said. “They put all of their equipment away. They need to let it sit for about two weeks and then they’re going to mill and pave, and that will take a week or so, depending on the weather.”
Renshaw said later that the project should be completed by the end of July at the latest, but most likely will finish earlier. When the milling and paving takes place, one lane will be closed on Route 52.
Renshaw also thanked village employees for their help on a gas-main leak along Route 52.
“It was almost a panic situation. There was a lot of gas that escaped, but everyone kept their cool. Village employees went down and helped police chief Harvey (Bowman) to go ahead with traffic control.
The administrator also thanked the employees for helping a bicyclist who was hit by a tractor last week.
Village council was also paid a visit from the Ohio Rural Heritage Festival organizers.
Jo-Ann Otto spoke to village council and the administration asking them to attend a fundraising dinner on July 25 at Ripley Elementary School that would feature dinner, a recognition of veterans living at the Ohio Veterans Home and a concert from Gary West, who is a Johnny Cash tribute player.
Tickets for the dinner are $30 per person. The money goes toward the meal, entertainment and festival.
“The idea behind this last-minute fundraiser is that we are trying to raise enough money on our own so that we don’t have to go out and knock on our county and statewide businesses to support us,” Otto said. “If we can come out this year, have a good festival for those two days, hopefully,, next year they’ll be really (interested).”
Otto said State Rep. Doug Green, R-Mt. Orab; State Sen. Joe Uecker, R-Miami Township; U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati; Brown County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Danny Bubp; the Brown County commissioners and other elected officials are expected to attend the event.
In other news, Leonard told council the position of village utility supervisor had opened up recently.