Township Topics
–Mike Jones


Co-workers provide a better breakfast
Smoothies, oatmeal, egg and egg with sausage breakfast sandwiches were served on two mornings recently from the kitchen of No. 4 fire station on Sylvania Ave., to Sylvania Township employees at no cost to them. The idea for Build a Better Breakfast was cooked up (see what we did there?)by the Sylvania Township wellness committee with the idea of reminding co-workers that there are a number of ways to start the day which can beat a donut and a cup of coffee slurped down on the way into work.

The tasty early morning fare was the draw, but the real purpose was to stress nutrition as an important component of a healthy lifestyle. The committee put together a small cookbook as a handout, which provided recipes for breakfasts ranging from “healthy egg muffin cups,” to “Mason Jar overnight oats.”

Samantha Babkiewicz, administrative assistant and IT coordinator, said the breakfast idea seemed popular, but the real success of the event can only be measured by even a slight change in lifestyle for some of the employees. “If just one person makes a change and increases their recognition of the importance of nutrition, I think it’s a success.”

For Janet Ontko, human resources director, success could be measured by something as simple as people eating an apple a day. Ontko spent a considerable amount of time researching nutrition information, which was also available as a printed quiz at the breakfast. One of the questions was, “What is the most nutritious way to eat a banana, green or ripe?” The answer is, it depends. Ontko then devoted more than two pages to explaining how nutritional values in a banana change as it ripens. She also had a full page listing 10 specific health benefits gained by eating an apple a day.

The wellness committee isn’t done yet. Employees are invited to three, one-hour events with the owner of Health Foods by Claudia on vitamins and supplements and their role in health.

New land use plan adopted
Sylvania Township trustees have adopted a new land use plan, which is now a guide for the township’s future growth. The 70-page plan was developed by Reveille, of Bowling Green, and the Mannik Smith Group over a period of about 15 months. The plan was guided in part by about 60 residents, who were split into three focus groups and offered ideas for the plan at meetings throughout the process. It also took into account the responses of more than 1,500 people to a survey and another approximately 275 responses to a similar survey given to high school seniors.

Tom Lemon, of Reveille, told trustees that strength of the new plan is, in many ways, based on the “outstanding” involvement by community members as the plan took shape. Among other things, the plan suggests a greater emphasis on office and business park uses, particularly along Central Ave. west of Centennial. It also urges mixed-use developments, which incorporate both commercial and residential uses. Both recommendations look to increase tax revenue in conjunction with land development.

A quick look at a township map, according to planners, suggests there is quite a lot of land available for development, particularly in the northwest, but a closer look shows that most of it is in a floodplain. Although it can be developed, it will require higher costs and dealing with a variety of environmental issues. The greatest concerns, based on the survey, are neighborhood related. People showed a high interest in connectivity through sidewalks and bike lanes, and the area of greatest interest was in improved recreational opportunities. Although Sylvania Township has a large number of parks and recreational facilities, either within its border or adjacent to it, people taking the survey were seeking smaller neighborhood-based green areas.

As the surveys show, most living in Sylvania Township are very pleased with the area. The proposed land use plan notes the many positives of the area.

Neal Mahoney, chairman of the trustees, congratulated the planners on what he said is a good plan and noted that it had already guided the township zoning commission on an issue. John King, acting chairman of the commission for that issue, praised the document calling it something that is flexible and living and can be adapted to different issues now and in the future.

Township recognized for safety efforts
Operating a large and diverse organization safely is its own reward, but it’s also nice to get a plaque in recognition for the effort taken to achieve that end. Sylvania Township was recognized for its efforts at a May 16 breakfast sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and the Lucas County Safety Council. Janet Ontko, human resources director for the township, said the award is based on a reduction last year of more than 25 percent fewer Workers Compensation claims for job-related injuries. She said the achievement is particularly notable considering that most of the township’s employees are in occupations where injuries are possible through the course of a normal day’s work. Police officers, firefighters, road crew and mechanics are all involved in work where an injury is lurking. She said she had reviewed all of the Workers Compensation claims for last year and it looked like all of the situations were basically unavoidable.

Ontko pointed to two firefighters who had suffered back injuries. In that circumstance, they had been sent on a medical emergency to care for a 450 lb. man. He lived in a basement apartment, which could only be reached through a narrow stairway. It was configured in such a way that a gurney couldn’t be used; so the firefighters had to bring him up bodily. The task resulted in the two back injuries.

She said safe practices are stressed by the township administration, but the credit belongs to the employees who keep not only their safety but also that of their co-workers in mind, as they go through the daily work of serving township residents.


Daryl Graus

Daryl Graus, manager of the Sylvania Township planning and zoning office, has written a letter of resignation and said he will take a position of planner With the Toledo Plan Commission. He said his decision wasn’t easy “but it was an opportunity to do more planning and less zoning.” The decision wasn’t based on economic factors and he acknowledged that he enjoys working with his staff as well as others in the township. Graus said he hadn’t actively sought other employment but had to give in some consideration when the possibility presented itself.

He joined the township department as an intern in 2008 and became a full-time employee the next year. He was named zoning enforcement officer in 2010 and manager of the office in 2012. The relatively rapid move upward was certainly welcome he said, but at this point creates a situation which leaves him in a “where do I go from here?” situation. The job with Toledo may lead to other opportunities, he noted.

Graus added that he is familiar with his soon-to-be colleagues in the city agency and that should ease his transition. Sylvania Township trustees recently adopted a new land use plan after more than a year of study, public meetings and meetings of a leading committee and three subcommittees. He was actively involved in preparing the plan and said he’s glad he didn’t have to make a decision concerning a job offer before the plan was completed.

It is expected that the last day for Graus at Sylvania Township will be June 28.

John Zeitler, Township Administrator, has begun a search for someone to manage the office.

The township is seeking someone with a minimum bachelor’s degree in urban planning, geography, public administration or a related field. An applicant also needs to have at least a year’s experience in public service and/or customer service.

Those interested may send applications, a cover letter, and three job-connected references to John Zeitler, Sylvania Township Administrator, 4927 Holland Sylvania Rd., Sylvania 43560 or to