By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
In an unanticipated turn of events, Willard City Manager told members of city council he is resigning, effective early next month. At a special meeting on Monday, April 25, members of city council accepted Tappel’s verbal resignation and then went into executive session to talk about hiring a new city official. No action followed.
“I will be moving on to a new job,” Tappel said. “If council agrees, my last day with the city will be June 3.”
Council member David Sattig asked Tappel if council had his resignation in writing.
“I will,” Tappel said. “I don’t right now. I will for your next council meeting.”
After members of council went behind closed doors for the executive session, Tappel talked about his future plans and what prompted his resignation.
“I am taking a position with Northern Ohio Rural Water,” Tappel said. “I will be the general manager.”
Tappel said his new job will include running the entire system as the main person. The main office for Northern Ohio Rural Water is on US 20 between Norwalk and Collins.
Content in his position as Willard City Manager, Tappel said officials at Northern Ohio Rural Water approached him with the job offer. In the past several months, the City of Willard has signed a contract to sell water to Northern Ohio Rural Water, which Tappel stated, had nothing to do with the job offer.
“Absolutely not,” he stated. “This contract was a good business move for the City of Willard and Northern Ohio.”
Tappel said the idea of leaving Willard after being named city manager for only 18 months, first as interim and then as the permanent city manager, was something he had not thought of for his future.
“I expected to be here for quite a while,” Tappel pointed out. “This job that became open with Northern Ohio Rural Water is what I would consider my dream job. I had no thoughts of ever having the job until they came to me.”
Tappel said he talked to his family about the job offer and leaving the city manager’s job.
When he came to the City of Willard, Tappel was the water superintendent. When the previous city manager resigned, members of Willard City Council appointed him as interim city manager. Later council chose Tappel to lead the city forward.
“I am going to miss Willard,” he said. “I got to work with great people, work with a great council and work with great employees. I met a lot of good people in this community.”
Even though he has only been city manager for a short period of time, Tappel said he is very proud of what he has been able to accomplish. “I think we got a lot done in the last year and a half,” he pointed out.
The City of Willard, under Tappel’s leadership, has been granted almost $1 million in Title 1 funding to fix the streets. The money is a zero-interest loan payable back at $100,000 a year for 10 years.
“Nobody’s ever done this before,” Tappel pointed out. “We were sitting on a bunch of loan money at the district level. The state was pretty much saying use it or lose it.
“I was sitting in a meeting one day and I thought to myself this is zero-percent money,” he added. “It’s kind of a no-brainer. I talked to some of them and I said I’d like to apply for that, and they said go for it.”
Tappel said it is like doing $100,000 worth of road for 10 years. “But doing it all at one shot.”
“It’s going to cost us $100,000 to pay this back over the next 10 years,” he explained. “But we get all that money up front, get the work done and then pay it back.”
Leaving his position as city manager just as the street work was going to start was something Tappel said he absolutely did not plan on with the timing of his resignation.
“I thought I would have been here until I retired,” Tappel said. “The biggest thing about being general manager of Northern Ohio is that’s where I come from.
“I come from water and wastewater,” he pointed out. “That’s a water job. I know what I am talking about 100-percent of the time with the job. So, it’s just a very comfortable job.”
Tappel said he will work with members of Willard City Council to find his replacement. He said he is willing to help in whatever capacity they need him.
“Whatever they want from me,” he said, “I will do. I’m willing to do whatever. I’m willing to help out. I’ll always be available to council and to whoever they decide to hire.
“I’m going to miss this place,” Tappel said. “But, I know what that place is. I know what the potential of that job is. I came here planning on being water superintendent.”
Tappel said when the job as city manager came open due to resignation, he told council he did not want it on a full-time basis.
“My opinion changed over time,” he pointed out. “To sit in this position as city manager was the best chance to get things done. Things that you would like to see accomplished in town.”
The two people working directly under him at Northern Ohio Rural Water are graduates of New London High School, like Tappel. They are people that he said he “has known forever.”“So, it’s a good fit that I didn’t even see coming,” he said. “I never even thought about it. This will job will take me to the end of my career.”