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Published: Wednesday, 7/6/2011

Sylvania public-service department chief named

Kevin Aller takes over for Jeff Ballmer, who retired

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jeff Ballmer, left, who retired as the head of Sylvania's department of public service, chats with Kevin Aller, who replaced him. Mr. Aller was assistant sanitary engineer with the Lucas County Sanitary Engineer's Office. Jeff Ballmer, left, who retired as the head of Sylvania's department of public service, chats with Kevin Aller, who replaced him. Mr. Aller was assistant sanitary engineer with the Lucas County Sanitary Engineer's Office.
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Faces have changed at the top of Sylvania's department of public service.

Jeff Ballmer, the city's long-time service director, retired Friday, to be replaced by Kevin Aller, who was assistant sanitary engineer with the Lucas County Sanitary Engineer.

Mr. Aller is learning the ropes fast, helped by the fact that his first week on the job last week overlapped with Mr. Ballmer's last week with the city.

The department is a sizable operation for a city of 19,000. With almost 50 employees, it is responsible for Sylvania's streets, water, sewers, parks, and zoning.

On his first day as service director, Sylvania imposed restrictions on water use because demand was outstripping the capacity of its 500,000-gallon elevated tank. Customers with odd-numbered addresses can water their lawns and wash their vehicles only on odd dates, and those with even-numbered addresses on even dates.

Mr. Aller said his new position was a great opportunity to grow professionally in a well-run community.

"I wasn't unhappy at the county. It's a good place to work. But when this opportunity arose, I took it," he explained.

Mayor Craig Stough, to whom the service director reports, said 43 applicants applied for the position, and six were interviewed.

All of the interviewed candidates were strongly qualified, he explained, but Mr. Aller's experience with water and sewer projects was what city officials were looking for, given that Sylvania operates its own systems.

The mayor said Mr. Aller also struck him as a candidate who could handle a variety of projects under way at the same time, another important consideration.

Mr. Aller, 46, is a professional engineer with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Toledo. He will be paid $99,600 annually.

His curriculum vitae includes stints with a private engineering firm and at the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, the city of Findlay, and the village of McComb, Ohio. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Springfield Township with their two children.

The city has plenty of projects to keep him busy.

A new 2-million-gallon water tank will be built on the west side of the Fossil Park parking lot, and a waterline replacement is slated along Main Street, which will be resurfaced from Maplewood Avenue to the Michigan line.

There's also the Sylvania River Trail, a paved path from Main to Harroun Road, and planned waterlines and sanitary sewers for parts of the Highland Meadows and Griffith Park subdivisions. The city also plans to install utilities to serve Harroun Park and the Lathrop House.

Mr. Ballmer, 63, became service director April 1, 1987, after also working as Lucas County's assistant sanitary engineer and as a private engineer.

He said he has enjoyed his job and learned a lot over the years. A lot has changed during his tenure. McCord and Brint roads, Erie Street, and Harroun were all widened, and Brint was extended from Main to Harroun. The city hall, courthouse, and senior center were built, and two skating rinks were added to Tam-O-Shanter, a joint project with Sylvania Township.

"Every day was different," Mr. Ballmer said. "Every day was a challenge. Some days you go home with a headache, and some days you go home with a skip in your step. But the city is a better place. There have been lots of improvements."



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