Coverage of public meetings in York Township is supported by the Nelsonville Community Foundation Fund and the I’m a Child of Appalachia© Fund at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.
Interested in sponsoring coverage in your community? Contact us at email@example.com.
NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Monday night’s regular Nelsonville City Council meeting was marked by the resignation of another member and another out-of-court settlement ordinance.
Now-former council member Glennda Tingle’s seat was empty, as she turned in a letter of resignation earlier that day. The council formally accepted her resignation and on Tuesday began soliciting letters of interest to fill the vacant seat. (To apply, submit letters of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com by July 24.)
Tingle’s resignation came amid more conflict between members of council and city government.
On Saturday, July 8, Nelsonville City Auditor Taylor Sappington emailed interim Nelsonville city manager and police chief Devon Tolliver, copying to the council, in response to “an unusual email to city council” sent July 7 that made numerous claims regarding city IT access and security.
“We are all aware that there was an inappropriate and possibly unlawful attempt to intercept the service director’s and auditor’s email accounts on the weekend of April 1st, 2023, by councilwoman Tingle and Councilman (Dan) Sherman,” Sappington wrote.
The IT director “attested to both of their phone calls and requests no less than four times to different individuals at city hall,” the email adds.
Sappington stated that there are text messages that prove his claim.
Support our work to deliver independent local news for Athens County
Like what you are reading?
“It was never cleared up how deep these attempts got or how much access was available to them at the time. This opens the question of who had access to city accounts and when, again,” Sappington wrote. “And was that access ever closed? If the council is to investigate access, the auditor’s office, service director, and frankly the public is owed an answer on the full picture here.”
Tingle replied via email minutes later, stating, “You know a lot of words and use them way too often.” She denied that she attempted to access the service director’s and auditor’s email accounts four times in April.
She further claimed that since the issue had been discussed in executive session, Sappington’s email violated state law.
“Since your memory is faulty and since you’ve already broken the rules in writing about this issue in a public record, let me remind (you) that it was stated at that time that I did call Mr. Saner ONE time asking if certain emails accounts could be accessed,” Tingle wrote.
(Jay Saner was the city’s IT director.)
“I did so at the request of [then-city manager Bernie Roell] who was attempting to discover which of four individuals had leaked information, posting it on social media, regarding a grant which the city had obtained,” Tingle continued. “The leak was apparently done in an attempt to cause problems for the city manager.”
Tingle added, “You need to back off. Your attempts to denigrate my character are getting old, and if you continue to do so in a public forum such as this or on social media, there will be consequences.”
Sappington replied that Tingle was “misinformed,” stating that Saner had “attested several times to different members of city administration about [those] attempts to access the auditors and service directors email accounts.”
Sappington wrote that he didn’t accuse Tingle specifically of requesting access four times, “although with your email, I now see there may have been attempts on more than just two accounts, which is important.”
Sappington also said that Roell, who resigned as city manager in May, told him he “did not attempt to access other individual emails or accounts. [The IT director] further confirmed that Bernie made no such ask of him,” and requested Tingle forward the alleged request. Sappington added that didn’t know this subject had been discussed in an executive session.
The day after this email exchange, Sappington emailed a records request to Tingle and Tolliver, copying the rest of council and addressing the email to council members Tingle and Sherman, and Tolliver. The request sought “all public records publicly discussing the accessing of the following email accounts,” including accounts for the auditor, service director and council members Tony Dunfee and Gregg Clement.
Earlier this week, Sappington told the Independent that in April, “I was getting calls from Jay Saner saying … ‘I think something bad is happening. I’m getting calls from council people asking to get into certain accounts at the city, including the auditor, service director’s and what is believed to be to council people.’”
Sappington said he advised Saner that per the city charter, Saner did not have to answer to council members. Saner no longer works for the city as of June, Sappington said.
The Athens Messenger reported on Sappington’s request, without attempting to contact Tingle for comment, she said. The next day, it published her resignation letter.
Tingle told the Independent on Monday that her “character is being torn apart” and that her reputation is being smeared. She said she resigned due to the physical impact of being on council.
“My health is compromised,” Tingle said. “Doctors told me I need to resign because of stress happening as a result of council.”
At Monday night’s council meeting, Sherman said that Tingle’s presence on the council will be missed. He also voiced a desire to take action regarding the email login controversy.
“We had some issues this weekend, I guess, things were put in the paper that probably weren’t true,” Sherman said. “I asked Chief Tolliver if he could possibly have BCI investigate that whole situation because you have authority as chief to actually send that over to them.”
Tolliver affirmed he would contact the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office first, which Sherman said presents a conflict of interest because county prosecutor Keller Blackburn is Council President Dunfee’s brother-in-law. Booth interjected that he had already contacted the BCI, was referred back to ACPO and spoke with ACPO Chief Investigator Jay Barrett.
Neither ACPO nor BCI had responded to requests for comment by press time.
Council member Nancy Sonick also said she has a “problem” with ACPO investigating due to Dunfee’s relationship to Blackburn.
Sappington told the Independent Tuesday that while he does not know the status of any investigations, “I’m certainly asking council to get somebody involved.”
The night’s only policy item was Ordinance 39-23, which authorizes the city auditor to pay $20,226.40 “for the settlement of pending lawsuit.” Sappington said he did not know about the ordinance prior to its addition in the council meeting. It passed unanimously on first reading on the suspension of the rules. The Independent has a records request pending with the city related to the settlement.
In other business, Tolliver gave the NPD’s June report. Last month, the NPD:
- Responded to 449 calls for service (8% increase from May).
- Conducted 55 traffic stops.
- Issued 27 citations.
- Responded to four traffic crashes.
- Made four criminal arrests.
- Made 16 warrant arrests.
Additionally, Clement reported that the police and fire committee also discussed the city’s continuous parking ordinance. Tolliver said the city is looking to establish a process more generous to city residents.
Sonick gave updates from the finance committee. Before the regular council meeting, the finance committee discussed a $1/hour raise for the city’s two head lifeguards, as well as potentially raising the hourly wage for part-time firefighters from $11.25/hour to $12.25/hour.
Nelsonville Fire Department Chief Harry Barber also expressed a need to increase the fire department’s part-time roster, which would not increase the number of shifts but rather the pool of firefighters who may work them.
Nelsonville City Council meets every other Monday of each month. Its next regular meeting will be Monday, July 24 at 7 p.m. in Nelsonville City Council Chambers, 211 Lake Hope Drive. Meetings are also livestreamed on YouTube. Find more at cityofnelsonville.com.
We are interested about hearing news in our community! Let us know what's happening!
Get in touch and share a story!