STRASBURG (WJER) (March 3, 2022) – Village officials have been defending their decision to hire a University Heights man as the fire department’s new chief.
Council last month voted unanimously to hire former Hiram Fire Captain Steven Laskey as the department’s full-time leader. Councilman Dustin Briggs was part of the committee that recommended Laskey for the position after interviewing seven candidates and ranking them based on their qualifications. He was among the members fielding questions and addressing concerns about the hire during Tuesday’s council meeting.
“Ever since he applied, look how this village acts. I mean, if I was him I’d probably quit and leave, you know what I mean… Give the guy a chance.”
Laskey is unable to relocate to the area because of residency obligations related to a child custody agreement but intends to commute and work out of the station full-time. Councilman Marty Zehnder was upset the hiring committee made the recommendation without mentioning that fact and says if he had known then what he knows now, he probably would have voted against it.
“Everybody should have been included in this. Everybody should have been involved in this decision like this. And when we were interviewing, we were going to places we have never been before. Everybody should have been involved so everybody knew what was going on, so we weren’t getting second-hand information.”
The previous chief, Andy Slemmer, was among the candidates the committee rejected for the position. Smith says the village will continue employing him as an advisor through the end of May to assist with the transition, after which point he will likely be offered another role within the department. Council on Tuesday accepted the resignations of three firefighters and learned that a fourth was planning to quit. Three were volunteers and the other was a part-timer.