Fostoria Council approves Stearns Road widening

By BRIAN BOHNERT
for the courier
FOSTORIA — Fostoria City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement between the city and the state Department of Transportation, paving the way for the long-awaited Stearns Road project.
The project, which has been in the planning stages for the better part of a decade, will widen about one-half mile of Stearns Road (Township 31) to three lanes. Curbs and storm water drains also will be installed.
According to the agreement, the estimated cost of construction is $3.3 million, with the state to provide 80 percent. The city will provide the rest of the funding.
City Auditor Steve Garner said the city is looking into finding additional funding resources for the project. At the beginning of the year, he said the city had roughly $130,000 in contingency money set aside for Stearns Road work. When the administration first set aside money for the project many years ago, there was nearly $500,000 available. That money has since been spent on other projects.
City Engineer Dan Thornton said the costs laid out in the agreement are just estimates by the state, and actual numbers should be available by August.
In a meeting with state Department of Transportation officials last month, Mayor Eric Keckler said the project was originally set to go out for bid late this summer, but has been pushed back several months because of other projects scheduled by the state.
Separately Tuesday, council approved a slightly revised job description for the chief position at Fostoria Fire Division, vacated by new Police Chief Keith Loreno on May 6.
According to the job description, candidates must have a minimum of five years of firefighting service at the lieutenant rank or above, or an equivalent combination of education, training and life experience.
Keckler said once the position has been advertised, the city will accept applications, set up a selection committee, interview a few top candidates, and present the top choice to council members.
During Tuesday’s meeting, 2nd Ward Councilman Greg Flores was selected to represent council on the fire chief selection committee. He previously helped choose the candidates for police chief.
Keckler said he hopes to finalize the search committee’s roster in the next day or two, so the city can begin accepting resumes for fire chief.
The selection committee, consisting of Keckler, Safety Service Director Allyson Murray, Flores, a member of Fostoria Civil Service Commission, a firefighter from a recognized division/department, and a member of the public not associated with the city, will view all applicants’ resumes and qualifications in an effort to select the best candidate for the position.
Fire Capt. Warren Digby, who has been with the department since 1995, was named interim fire chief May 10.

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