Roell says he brings ‘managerial experience’ to new role as Nelsonville city manager

Last week, Bernard “Bernie” Roell became Nelsonville’s fifth city manager since January. Former interim city manager Tracy Galway withdrew from consideration amid a controversy surrounding a mobile home.

NELSONVILLE, Ohio – Nelsonville City Council hired last week local business owner Bernard “Bernie” Roell as its city manager. Roell will be the fourth person to hold the position since January.

Roell told the Independent Monday that he brings years of “managerial experience” to the position, hoping to ensure that both his “management team” and city council are “striving for the same mission and vision of what we want Nelsonville to be like and what we want it to look like in the coming months and into the future.”

Roell worked for three decades in the chemical industry, he said, with experience in leadership and goal-setting, “sales and marketing, finance, manufacturing, human resources, etc.”


According to his LinkedIn, Roell holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Ohio University. He owns multiple businesses, including 1st Choice Chemical Consulting, LLC and 1st Choice Property Management LLC and Adventure Pro Outdoors LLC. 

Roell states on LinkedIn that his property management company is “the largest Cabin and Vacation Rental Destination Company in Athens and Hocking County, Ohio,” holding over 40 cabins, two bed and breakfasts, and four additional vacation rental homes. Adventure Pro Outdoors is located in Nelsonville, at 1299 E. Canal St.

“I think I’ve got a great reputation in Nelsonville as a person that can build enterprises,” Roell said. “I’m really good at working with different people at different levels.”

Roell expressed wanting to look past the “chaos” over the past few days, referring to the resignations of four city council members, and three members’ later rescission of their resignations. He also expressed an interest in seeking out grant opportunities for the city. 

“There’s a future on the horizon,” Roell said. “There’s been a tremendous amount of work that I’ve seen since I’ve been here in terms of infrastructure. There’s a lot more to come … There are opportunities to find to restore the beauty of this community, welcome business owners in and then attract families from outside the community to raise families.”

Multiple council members who resigned the same week Roell was hired said their resignations had nothing to do with Roell.

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“My reason for stepping off had nothing to do with Bernie Roell being selected as city manager,” said Gregg Clement, whose status as council vice president is unclear following his resignation and later recission of that resignation. “Bernie was chosen. We all voted yes, and I support it, and I want Bernie to succeed.”

Former council member Nick Smith also said his resignation had nothing to do with the city manager applicant pool.

Roell will serve on a 90-day interim basis, replacing Tracy Galway who served as interim city manager for a 60-day interim term. 

Galway replaced former city manager Scott Frank, who resigned in early January. Police chiefs K.J. Tracy and Devon Tolliver each served as Nelsonville city manager after Frank’s resignation and before Galway was hired, making Roell the fourth city manager in four months. 

Galway withdraws amid mobile home controversy

Galway’s original contract expired March 30. On March 29, she withdrew her application to continue in the position.

Galway shared a letter with the Independent, addressed to Tony Dunfee, whose status as Nelsonville City Council president is in limbo.

The letter read, “I am withdrawing myself from the application pool for permanent City Manager. I will complete my 60 day interim contract, which ends 3/30/2023. I appreciate the opportunity I had to help the city in the interim, but have decided to go another direction.” 

Galway declined further comment on her decision to withdraw.

Dunfee read Galway’s letter aloud at a special city council meeting last Wednesday, March 29. 

Immediately after reading the letter, Dunfee said, “I’d just like to tell everyone that Miss Tracy Galway did an excellent job — did a lot of things you don’t know about. She’d been harassed several times about a trailer … parked wrong, that she repeatedly said over and over — over and over and over — that it was within code. That’s wrong … This town’s better than that.”

After returning from an executive session, Dunfee said at the meeting, “I’d like to apologize; I was pretty heated there earlier. I care about the city and am passionate and I want the city to succeed. We’ve been through a lot.”

Miki Brooks, a realtor who owns multiple properties in Nelsonville, voiced her support for Roell at the meeting while criticizing Galway’s decision to allow the trailer to be parked in town. The approval “open[ed] that door back up that so many people worked hard to close years ago” to prevent mobile homes from being parked in most areas of the city, she said. Brooks said Galway should “should have thought ‘wow, we don’t need more trailers in Nelsonville.’”

After sitting down, Brooks told Dunfee, “Don’t shake your head, Tony,” adding, “It kind of says what she thinks: That it’s OK to move trailers into Nelsonville.”

Nelsonville resident Betty Jo Parsley also criticized Galway’s decision regarding the mobile home.

“I’ve worked my heart and soul out to make things better here for a long time. To say I harassed her is ridiculous,” Parsley said.

Dunfee said his comment about harassment referred to “multiple people.”

Council member Glennda Tingle said many people have worked to “clean this town up” and “one of the downfalls” was “trailers.” 

“We don’t need trailers, and having that one moved in was a problem,” Tingle said.

All who addressed the trailers at the meeting agreed it was within Galway’s authority as city manager to allow the trailer to be parked in town on a temporary basis.

Roell said he has not yet resolved “that particular project” but added a new owner is “working out the details” to remove the trailer from the city.

Dunfee resigned Friday, March 31, though he rescinded the decision Monday. His status as council president is uncertain.

Dunfee did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Independent but told the Columbus Dispatch he resigned due to council member Dan Sherman’s behavior. Sherman denied he had created a hostile environment within Nelsonville’s government.

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