Councilman Wagner appointed to mayor’s seat –
By Patricia Beech –
The Manchester Village Council unanimously appointed C.L.’Skip’ Wagner as mayor of Manchester Tuesday night following the resignation of Mayor Robert Hilterbrand.
In a letter of resignation read by Wagner at Tuesday’s meeting, Hilderbrand wrote: “ Due to health issues that I have been facing…I find that I cannot dedicate my time to carry out my duties as mayor.”
Hilderbrand had two years remaining in his term. He wrote that he believes Wagner will be “an outstanding mayor” and he encouraged the council and the village to support him.
“For the first time in 20 years, we are on the cusp of coming out of fiscal emergency, but as with all things, the pie is only so big and you can only cut it into so many slices,” he wrote. “I ask that everybody work together with this council and your new mayor to try and come up with viable solutions to move forward.”
Councilwoman Teresa Blythe said she supported Wagner’s appointment to the mayor’s seat.
“Skip has worked well with us as a councilman, and I hope that continues now that he’s mayor,” she said after Tuesday’s meeting. “I trust that he’ll remember everything we’ve gone through as a village, and that he’ll keep us moving in the right direction.”
Wagner has spent the past several weeks preparing to transition to the mayor’s seat – a move he wishes were happening under better circumstances.
“The council and the different department heads have all been great about working with me because they know I didn’t really have an option but to step up to the plate,” said Wagner. “I don’t want to let Bob or the village down.”
In recent years Manchester’s village leaders have grappled with issues surrounding blighted, abandoned, and polluted properties, as well as poor street and road conditions, however their main focus has been on taking steps to bring the village out of fiscal emergency, even closing down the village police department on the recommendation of the State Auditor’s office.
Wagner says he hopes to find ways to strengthen the local economy, improve quality of life for Manchester residents, and build on local assets.
He lists three goals he hopes to accomplish while serving as Mayor: leading the village out of fiscal emergency; improving communication between the various village departments; and cleaning up blighted and burnt out property.
“Getting out of fiscal emergency will open up a lot of options for the future,” he says. “When that happens we can begin to explore what’s available to us as we go forward.”
Wagner will be meeting with various village officials in the coming weeks. He hopes to build a network that allows the various departments to coordinate and streamline their responses to problems and issues in the village.
“I want to get everyone on the same page,” he says. “We’re going to get more accomplished if we’re communicating effectively with each other.”
One of Wagner’s first priorities is to demolish a burned out commercial property on Second Street. He says he has spoken with Representative Terry Johnson’s office and approached several 501C3 nonprofits in the hope of finding a buyer for the property after the Adams County Land Bank backed away from the deal because of liens that remain on the building.
“I am determined to get it done,” he says. “If we can find someone to purchase the property, we’ve got the money to demo it. It’s not only an eyesore, it’s a safety hazard, and I’m not going to let the thing stand until next Christmas.”
In his resignation letter, former mayor Hilderbrand reminded Wagner and the council that the lack of funding remains the village’s number one stumbling block.
“It is easy to sit in the crowd and point out the things that need done,” Hilderbrand wrote. “But I have learned that without money, not much can be done. When you deal with government, all things have strings attached.”
Wagner, who is a local business owner, says he plans to take a business-like approach to running the mayor’s office.
“All I can do is try not to let the town down,” he said. “I’ll endeavor with all my ability to do that.”