SABINA — The village’s first mayoral election since David Michael’s resignation from the office in April is a contest between his successor and a current member of council.
Dean K. Hawk, at the time Sabina Village Council president, succeeded Michael as mayor by virtue of being council president. Councilman William C. “Bill” Lewis also seeks the top position for Clinton County’s third largest municipality.
Hawk served on council seven years before he became the mayor. He wants to get more businesses in Sabina and get some of the empty houses around town occupied.
If elected, he said he plans to spend a lot of time trying to bring in business. Regarding new business and new employers, he believes “you got to work to get it.”
Hawk said he has tickets to attend an industrial show this month and ask people there if they know of someone looking for a place to put a shop. If so, he will promote Sabina as a location with a railroad, an elementary school, a post office, two state highways that go through it, is near freeways, and can draw from a lot of population within 50 miles.
“So I think there’s a great opportunity here,” said Hawk.
Hawk worked as purchasing manager at the Milacron plant in Wilmington before it shut down when he was 55. After that, he helped develop process improvement teams with companies in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, utilizing employees within those companies.
That experience, he believes, shows he can understand problems, recognize good ideas, and has an ability to draw out those ideas from people and get them implemented. Those same skills can be useful for a mayor, too, he said.
He said another relevant part of his background is his decades in Church of Christ in Christian Union volunteer leadership roles. That includes “church extension” work that involves seminars or workshops to help churches find ways to improve their operation — “sometimes restructuring of churches that were having trouble.”
Hawk, 79, said he thinks Sabina residents are wasting a lot of money on flood plain insurance mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He recalled that a “huge rain” in 1968 showed the outcome of flooding in Sabina to be “fishing worms and mud.” The flood waters didn’t have the power to move houses, yet there has to be structural damage to collect on the insurance, he added.
Hawk earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial management at the University of Cincinnati while working at Milacron, starting college at the age of 30.
His opponent, William C. “Bill” Lewis, said, “We’re at a critical crossroads with Sabina.”
Specifically, there’s a need to improve the stance in town regarding employment, he said. To that end, he said one thing he would do is research to see what companies can be brought in.
In terms of village finances and the overall shape of village infrastructure and services, Lewis said he will try to get New Sabina Industries (NSI) to agree to annexation, making employees there subject to the village’s 1 percent income tax.
Lewis said NSI is a wonderful place for people to work and something for the area to be proud of.
“I would like it to become an even greater corporate citizen by joining our village and coming into the [village] corporation,” he said.
Using the added revenue in village coffers, such things as streets, utilities, sidewalks, parks and other recreational facilities could be upgraded, making Sabina a more attractive place for NSI as well as potential economic development benefits for the town, according to Lewis.
“I think it would help our town a lot,” said the councilman.
Lewis said the effort to relieve citizens of the FEMA insurance “must get a higher priority than it has in the past.” He also said that prior to returning to council in 2010, he successfully urged council “to stand up to” FEMA and appeal an expansion of the flood plain.
He wants to annex a segment of Dakins-Chapel Road into the village to reduce speed limits there. “I’ve been told children play along that road and people walk along that road; the speed limit is 55 miles per hour,” he said.
More effort needs to be directed toward less fortunate citizens to have them participate in programs such as the Community Housing Improvements Program (CHIP), Lewis said.
He said he favors improved land use to bring overall improvement to the town going into the future. Basic zoning would be conducive to establishing residential properties in certain areas, commercial sites in other areas and industrial locations in still different areas, according to Lewis.
One of his strong attributes, he said, is being accessible and responsive to the concerns and suggestions of all people.
Lewis said he spearheaded creation of the Sabina Enterprise Zone to foster more business and jobs. He also said he cast the lone council vote against a “hasty emergency ordinance” to establish a livestock station in the former Mac Tools facility in town.
Lewis declined to give his age, but did say he is “blessed with good health.” He would keep his seat on council if he is not elected mayor.
Retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, he worked in procurement and cost analysis. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Miami University and a bachelor of science degree from Wilmington College.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.