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Oakwood Hills officially names new leadership

Oakwood Hills saw wave of resignations over power plant

OAKWOOD HILLS – Oakwood Hills is officially under new leadership after Village Board members selected Paul Smith to step into the acting president role after Melanie Funk's resignation.

Smith's selection as acting president was one of three positions filled as Oakwood Hills resident Amanda Wagner was appointed to the trustee seat vacated by Beth Gorr and lawyer Lisa Waggoner was named the new village attorney after John Cowlin resigned.

Smith, who was a trustee before being named acting president, could have also held on to his trustee seat, which would have allowed him to keep his vote. But Smith resigned from his seat after taking the acting president role, giving up his vote and the security of the trustee term should he fail to win the election for village president in April 2015.

His seat is now also open for a temporary appointment the board could fill.

The changes in leadership produced a positive reaction from many in the Power Plant Opposition Group, which had previously called for Funk to resign because of a hosting agreement for a $450 million natural gas power plant that has garnered heavy criticism.

Mike Riley, an Oakwood Hills resident for more than 30 years, said the security measures such as metal detector wands and bag searches for residents entering Village Hall were no longer in place. Security measures were implemented before the Village Hall reopened in September after a month-long shutdown Funk called for because of reported threats that were later found to be undocumented.

"Even though it was a short meeting it was productive in the sense that the board is getting reorganized and will now be able to resume village business," Riley told members of the opposition group on the official web page.

Group member Don Kalter, who has also been outspoken throughout the power plant proposal process, said he believes both residents and developers will now have a fair chance to be heard equally.

"Now we too can get back to business," Kalter wrote on the page. "I, for the first time, believe now that we are finally on an even playing field."

Funk, Gorr and Cowlin stepped down from their positions Sept. 10 after months of a contentious relationship with the public. Funk and Gorr cited a toll on their health from the constant criticism they received for supporting a hosting agreement that could result in the construction of the plant.

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