Village of Lakeview Releases Statement


In a Press Release by the Villiage of Lakeview via Solicitor Lynette Dinkler:


Lakeview, Ohio –  The Village of Lakeview staff and elected officials continue working long, diligent hours to passionately serve their beloved Lakeview Community. The mission: serve Lakeview residents and businesses burdened with rebuilding in the wake of the all too recent tornado. This mission will feel easier for Lakeview’s public servants as staff now have a place to report to work. Government operations are temporarily housed at 130 East Lake Street in Lakeview. All are grateful the Village quickly received authorization for rent payments to be covered as part of its property damage claim. And, the Village is excited its community will continue to be served by its former neighbor, the Lakeview Branch Library, which was located next to the municipal building, another municipal-owned building claimed by the F3 tornado. The two will remain neighbors, with the library temporarily housed just across the street from its 165 East Lake Street, Unit B. A benevolent commercial property owner leased the space to the library at no cost. People in this community are pulling together to help their local government rebuild Lakeview stronger and better.

Mayor Elaine Fagan Moore, new to public service but with over 45 years of insurance industry experience, including over two decades of managerial leadership, is a “strong and compassionate leader, rightly calling for accountability in all aspects of Lakeview’s government operations,” state’s Council President, Randy Kaehler.

Recently, a few Indian Lake community members have taken to social media, leveling unsustained accusations at the Mayor and Village Council, seemingly stemming from the voluntary resignation of the now former Fire Chief Norman Spring, a resignation Village Council accepted at its April 15th, 2024 regularly scheduled council meeting. While Mayor Fagan Moore did not ask for or otherwise threaten Spring’s employment, Spring was the subject of an investigation under the former Mayor, Ryan Shoffstall, that lasted approximately 30 months for unknown reasons. To suggest problems boiled to the surface because Mayor Fagan Moore is seated as Mayor is simply wrong.

Ohio’s statutory villages operating with an administrator form of government, like Lakeview, conduct business according to a governmental organizational chart created by state statute, not village council or any appointed or elected official. For all of Ohio’s statutory villages, the administrator, fiscal officer, police chief, and fire chief (if operating police/fire department) report to the Mayor. The village administrator is charged with managing the daily operations. The mayor oversees her direct reports and keeps village council well informed on village operations. Only the six village council members vote on legislation. The mayor does not vote on legislation unless the village council is split in a tie. In that case, the mayor is empowered under the law to cast the tie-breaking vote. For those who understand and follow the public business conducted by Lakeview Village Council, they would know that Mayor Fagan Moore, to date, has not been called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Before Mayor Fagan Moore took office, assistant Fire Chief Dan Defibaugh resigned and the reasons underlying that resignation ignited an investigation into the leadership of the fire department. Former Chief Spring claims that the investigation resulted in no action against him. Incorrect. On April 17th, 2023, former Mayor Shoffstall and Village Council presented Spring with a two-page document ordering him to start disciplining his staff “in private outside the watchful eye of other members in the public” ” to build individual and collective morale of the members,” and “re-establish trust among the department members,” which seemed to have been eroded. It does not end there. Spring is ordered to establish and implement modern-day policies to govern fire department operations. Former Chief Spring failed, during his tenure as fire chief, to take accountability to establish proper policy as mandated by Ohio law to protect the lives of his firefighters and community. The last set of undated policies implemented by Lakeview’s Fire Department under Spring’s command is so old it appears to be printed on a dot matrix printer. Notably absent from its harassment/workplace bullying policy are steps to complain about the Chief. Shoffstall’s investigation also revealed training protocols and schedules were found to be lacking.

Worse yet, the two-page document holds Spring accountable to “re-establish” the implementation of a “proper chain of command.” Fire departments are parliamentary organizations. They live and die under the chain of command. Not only was the chain of command absent under Spring, but Spring is also told under former Mayor Shoffstall that he was failing to properly report to the former Mayor and Village Council to obtain proper legislative approval needed before the Chief could legally purchase equipment and before the Chief could legally sell obsolete Village Fire Department equipment. The former Chief was directed to communicate in an “open and forthright manner” about “all aspects of the operations of the fire department,” including the Village Council, to allow its elected officials to “gain a better understanding of what projects, equipment and training” are occurring under Spring’s command.

Shortly after Mayor Fagan Moore took office, she received a resignation from a ranking firefighter complaining about Spring and she received other complaints about Spring from command staff. So, she asked to be provided accountability on items identified under her predecessor’s tenure. For those who are labeling this as micromanaging, let it be known the Mayor, Council, and Administrator are aligned that the Lakeview Fire Department will be properly rebuilt, will operate under a chain of command, will operate under modern-day policy and guidelines fully compliant with state and federal legal mandates, and that the firefighters will be properly trained and promoted. A robust recruiting program will also be created. Administrator Dave Scott has lined up highly respected resources to bring order to the fire department.

It is true that Spring was placed on paid administrative leave for a short time in February under Mayor Fagan Moore’s tenure to allow for an impartial investigation to learn whether Spring was correcting the many deficiencies identified by former Mayor Shoffstall’s administration. He was returned to work after questions were answered. Good, bad, or otherwise, when the tornado struck Mayor Fagan Moore put the subject on the back burner because the Village needed all hands on deck to respond to the natural disaster to protect and serve its people and businesses.

Firefighting is a calling, one must be treasured and respected in the community. These are the people who sign up to run and when the rest of us are desperately running out. The emotional health of the department under Mayor Fagan Moore is paramount. She called a staff meeting on Sunday, April 21st, 2024. No village official called a press conference. This is misinformation. While a few accuse her of wanting to dismantle the department, her actions strikingly prove otherwise. The violation of her direct order for all recording devices to be turned off at this sensitive meeting, where HIPAA-protected information was to be shared by first responders in a safe place for the emotional and physical well-being of the fire department’s rank and file, is a true tragedy. It is well established that the emotional health of first responders requires a safe space for sharing and the outlets for emotional healing must be provided to those selfless public servants.

Spring demonstrates he has no respect for HIPAA-protected information, by publicly discussing his predecessor’s health information during a recent interview posted online. Whoever recorded and disseminated the Fire Department staff meeting demonstrated the same. It is a breach of privilege and trust. Those days are over, and Lakeview is moving forward and upward. Staff meetings are not public meetings, never have been, and will remain private. To be clear, they are not open to the public or the press. A non-quorum number of council can legally attend staff meetings.

To further set the record straight, Spring failed to report the incoming tornado he reportedly videoed headed into town from the firehouse to the Logan County Emergency Agency. Point of fact, when Administrator Dave Scott called Logan County EMA Director Helen Norris at 8:15 PM on March 15th, 2024, to ask her why her agency had yet to provide services for Lakeview, her response tells it all. Scott will not forget her words, “Norm never called me” meaning Spring asked for no services from the Logan County EMA.

That said, it has been confirmed that local first responding agencies, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association Emergency Response System all offered and supported Lakeview’s response efforts starting as early as 9:36 p.m. the evening the tornado struck. If Chief Spring believed he needed additional resources to best serve Lakeview, all he needed to do was ask because additional help on the local, county, and state levels waited in the wings to be deployed to serve all of Logan County. It remains unknown why Spring’s recent interviews tell a different story. Ohio law mandated that Chief Spring “provide an adequate number of personnel to safely conduct emergency scene operations.” Ohio Administrative Code 4123; 1-21-07(C)(1).

It likewise remains unknown why Spring accuses the Mayor of wrongdoing related to the Village’s tornado response. Spring was in charge. Ohio Administrative Code 4123; 1-21-07 (B)(4). That said, the law, not the Mayor, also mandates that she is his boss. Ohio Revised Code Sections 737.22 (A) And 733.35. On March 17th Mayor Fagan Moore asked her subordinate, Chief Spring, for a basic update on his response to the disaster. Village Administrator Scott, who is also charged with the management of the Fire Department under Ohio law, was present to be briefed as well. Neither the Mayor nor the Administrator have an understanding as to why Spring refused to provide the Mayor with an update and neither have an understanding as to why law enforcement was dispatched to this meeting.

The Village’s focus from the moment the storm hit to the present remains serving the community who grieves for the loss of human life, shelter, and an overall sense of security for its citizens. While unrest for a few appears to exist following Spring’s recent voluntary resignation, Chief Spring is free to resign like any other employee- it’s a personal choice and one the Village Council respected. Mayor Fagan Moore has this to say, “Council accepted his resignation as well as other firefighters, and we move forward. In life we are tasked to do the right thing, to be held accountable and to make personal choices. I made a conscious decision to run for mayor, I have no control over anybody who elected to run or not run against me. I love my Village. I have a deep desire to serve in a civic capacity. This is my home and I’m extremely excited to rebuild our community with our governing council body and residents. Lakeview is strong and open for business. ”

The public is invited to the Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting, which will be conducted on May 6th, 2024 at 6 PM at its new temporary municipal building located at 130 East Lake Street, Lakeview. During this meeting, the Village Council will deliberate and vote on Mayor Fagan Moore’s recommendation for the appointment of Assistant Chief Josh Oakley as the Lakeview Fire Department’s interim Fire Chief. Mayor Fagan Moore is recommending an interim appointment to allow the Village adequate time to conduct a search for the Village’s next Fire Chief- a modern day leader who will operate the department with respect up and down the chain of command, transparency to the Mayor and Village Council, and a positive, cooperative spirit with neighboring departments. Working together will benefit not only the village but the entire Indian Lake Community. Village administration, Mayor Fagan Moore, and Village Council remain committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the community and to ensuring that its taxpayer’s dollars are wisely allocated to accomplish this important mission.

Lakeview residents and businesses should rest assured that emergency services will continue to be provided. Currently, the Lakeview Fire Department is staffed by two Assistant Chiefs and six volunteers. It is well supported by neighboring jurisdictions through mutual aid. Over half of Ohio’s registered fire departments are volunteers according to recent data collected by the Division of State Fire Marshal.