Bieshelt abruptly quits Columbiana Council

COLUMBIANA – City Council took care of business Tuesday night with five members instead of six after Bob Bieshelt left only a matter of minutes into the meeting.

Following the roll call and approval of past meeting minutes, Bieshelt stood and announced he was resigning, effective immediately. He gave no further comment and walked out of the room, leaving the remainder of council to carry on with the meeting as scheduled.

Council members continued the meeting without comment.

Following the meeting, Mayor David Spatholt said he had not been told Bieshelt was intending to resign until moments before the meeting.

Councilman James King, who seemed visibly upset, said he “had no clue” it was going to happen.

Councilman Tom Ferguson declined to comment, while Councilman Lowell Schloneger said he didn’t agree with Bieshelt’s previous statements regarding the hiring of the new city manager.

Bieshelt, along with Councilman Bryan Blakeman and King, opposed hiring Wastewater Superintendent Lance Willard, who was serving in the acting city manager capacity for the first time during Tuesday’s meeting. He was hired on a tie vote broken by Spatholt at the Jan. 29 meeting.

Bieshelt and Blakeman publicly opposed hiring a city employee to fill the position left by Keith Chamberlin in December, and the two – along with King – had said on Jan. 29 they weren’t pleased with the decision, and had voted against.

The three also said then that until that night council had been in agreement on another candidate.

Schloneger disagreed and said Tuesday night that Bieshelt “keeps saying we agreed we wanted someone local. I never agreed we’d hire someone local.”

He had no further comment.

Blakeman said after the meeting that he also didn’t know Bieshelt was going to resign, although he said that in recent conversations with Bieshelt it was clear he was displeased with how things were going.

“He has put a lot of time and effort into the city and I want to thank him for his service,” he said.

Bieshelt was elected in 2011 and was serving the first year of his second four-year term. Residents interested in applying for the open seat should send resumes to Spatholt at the city’s administrative office at 28 W. Friend St.

Requirements for the position are that applicants must be a resident of the city at least one year and a registered voter. Resumes will be accepted until the end of the business day on Feb. 18.

Council, which will fill the position, said they would like for the person to be seated at the Feb. 19 regular meeting.