After 21 years, multiple water line extensions, two water towers, one new reservoir, two plant expansions, several water service agreements, and the drilling of two new wells, Geoff Goll's service to the citizens is done.
The longtime member of the Salem Utilities Commission officially retired from the board after Tuesday's meeting, with the utilities department and commission treating him to a surprise retirement party in the evening at the Salem Golf Club.
"I've enjoyed my 21 years," he told the group of family members, friends, public officials, co-workers and utilities department staff members.
Salem Utilities Commission Chairman Bob Hodgson congratulates Geoff Goll on his retirement from the commission after 21 years of volunteer service to the city of Salem and surrounding communities, with 19 years as chairman. Goll’s taking his talents to Rotary International to work on the project to eradicate polio worldwide. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Tuesday was declared Geoffrey S. Goll Day throughout the city of Salem by Mayor John Berlin, who read a proclamation touting his accomplishments on the commission while working with four different city administrations, 30 city council members and eight fellow commission members over the years.
He also received recognition from Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson, Auditor of State David Yost and the Ohio Senate through Sen. Joe Schiavoni, with Dawson in attendance at the event. Dawson congratulated him on a job well done and said when he thinks of Salem, he thinks of him and Don Weingart, the longtime Salem Utilities Superintendent.
Commission Chairman Bob Hodgson presented Goll with a plaque in recognition of his service, highlighting the many projects done since he was appointed to the commission by former Mayor Al Mondell in December 1992. He became chairman in 1995 and remained in that position until he relinquished it in May this year to devote more time to a new assignment with Rotary International for the polio eradication effort, eventually leading to his retirement.
As he recounted what Goll had done, he said more than that, he did it all while "being a leader and a gentleman, acting with complete integrity and a sense of service to his community."
Goll recalled how the wells went dry in Washingtonville, the Ohio National Guard was trucking in water and the city of Salem was asked what they could do. Water was extended from the city to the village and several years later, water was extended to the village of Leetonia. He talked about the water line to the federal prison and a line serving several Columbiana County entities on County Home Road and state Route 172.
By providing services outside the city, he said they kept rates down and that allowed them to attract the Fresh Mark company to move to Salem, due to the low utility rates.
"Whatever we could do to keep the rates low, we did," he said.
Goll talked briefly about the interest income from the department that now goes to the city general fund and said he understands the need. He offered his services if the day comes that its decided to have a police and fire levy on the ballot, saying he'll lead the fight for passage. He said he didn't think the people would ever be convinced to raise the 1 percent income tax.
He said what people in Salem don't understand is how hard the public officials have looked at issues and tried to solve problems. In a statement which will be made part of the commission record, he expressed his appreciation to Mondell and former mayors Larry DeJane and Jerry Wolford for their confidence in him and for all the council members who approved his appointment.
He praised the work of the staff and said nothing would have happened without their dedication.
"I have seen our employees fix broken water lines in 15 degree weather, take the time to call and question unusual water usage, work to make sure sewer and water lines are available for new housing, etc. They are just good folks and we, the citizens of Salem, are very lucky to have them working for us," he wrote.
He said God grants individuals talents and those talents are varied. He said it is the individual's responsibility to use those talents for the betterment of the community and he hoped history would show that he tried to use his talents to help the city and surrounding communities.
"As I leave the commission, and assuming it will be allowed to continue in its present form, I know it will continue to operate in an outstanding manner," he wrote, acknowledging the leadership of Hodgson and guidance of Weingart and Assistant Superintendent Matt Hoopes.