Jazz music is playing softly in the background.
The wallpaper is gone and a doorway has been cut to create a direct route to what will soon be a meeting room. It’s just 30 days into his new gig as mayor and Hans Schneider says it’s a positive work in progress.
“We’re trying to promote a team atmosphere and it’s not just the mayor doing well, it’s not just the village administrator doing well, the street crew, or the electric department,” the mayor said. “Everyone is putting something into the pot and we’re stirring it together and we’re coming up with good stuff.”
The concoction works because of teamwork, he said.
“If there’s one person leading that’s fine, but it is a culmination that if people are happy with the village, it’s not necessarily because of the mayor, it’s a combination of everyone doing their job,” he said.
The approach is one he adopted early on, providing a team meeting and breakfast goodies on the first day at work after the holidays.
In council chambers, new nameplates for all council members and the mayor have been installed. All have the same font and color scheme whereas before “it looked like mish mosh,” Schneider said.
Nameplates might sound like a small consideration, but Schneider says they can’t be overlooked. “Presentation is important,” he said. “It looks more professional down there.”
Videos of council meetings are starting to be loaded to the village’s website, along with meeting minutes and lots of local news and information on the village’s Facebook page.
“I sure can tell you when I got elected in November, I didn’t expect to be naming a finance director right off the bat,” Schneider said.
Finance director Karen Shaw submitted her resignation just before the end of 2015. Since then Vanya Hales, who worked in the utility office, has been promoted.
“I think we hit a home run on that one,” he said. “The reception to Vanya has been positive internally and externally so I think she will grow into that role.”
Issues ahead include tearing down the old McCormick Middle School and gearing up for creating a park in that same area. An electrical substation is also being built, an agreement to build solar fields is nearly complete, and council will be getting ready to redo the payscale to make the village more competitive with other employers.
And then there’s the heroin problem.
Wellington, like other communities, is not exempt from overdoses and increased crime that go along with drugs in terms of thefts, accidents and burglaries.
“People need to understand it’s not an overnight fix,” Schneider said. “I trust that whatever tools the police department needs they will come and ask for it and we will move in the direction to eradicate that issue.”
Two ordinances are being discussed. One is a nuisance abatement to allow police to begin fining businesses or homeowners that repeatedly call safety services for fights and other disturbances. Another is addressing large trash pick-ups, which are scheduled just once a month but often sit out for weeks at a time on tree lawns.
“Sometimes good leadership is listening to the experts who have the knowledge,” Schneider said, referring to police chief Tim Barfield, who provided a model nuisance abatement ordinance that proved successful in Maple Heights where he previously worked.
Schneider wants to hear what’s on people’s minds directly.
He’ll hold the first of what will be monthly “coffees with the mayor” from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27 in the back room of Bread-N-Brew. “Have a cup of coffee and a danish on me and we can talk in a relaxed, informal setting,” he said. “They can talk about complaints. They can talk about anything.”
The mayor is also pulling together a State of the Village address, which he plans to share around his 100th day in office, which should be the beginning of April.
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
Photo by Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise
Wellington mayor Hans Schneider shows off the a meeting room that is now easily accessible from his office.