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Published: Thursday, 1/9/2003

Stryker's mayor quits without any explanation

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kroetz: He wants to go out on top. Kroetz: He wants to go out on top.
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STRYKER, Ohio - This town's mayor, who also once served as police chief, has abruptly resigned, leaving behind a brief letter of resignation.

Mayor Gene Kroetz, 51, who was elected to a four-year term in November, 1999, resigned at 12:30 p.m. Monday. His letter of resignation was accepted without discussion Tuesday night at a special council meeting.

Contacted at his home yesterday afternoon, Mr. Kroetz declined to say what prompted his resignation, adding that he didn't want “to get into health issues or anything like that.” Mr. Kroetz said he did not feel that he was forced from his job.

“I guess the old clich is when you're on top, it's time to go,” he said, noting that he's retired and plans to spend more time with his grandchildren.

In the letter addressed to council and citizens of this Williams County village of 1,468, Mr. Kroetz said he made the decision to step down “for circumstances that are now beyond my control.”

“Stryker has and always will be strong in my heart,” his letter continued. “For I truly love this community. It gives me no pleasure in quitting something I started, but for the best interest of Stryker I must do now.”

Before the resignation was read into the record, Village Council President Tom Horton was appointed mayor, while Councilman Joan Ruffer was named council president. Mr. Horton will have to run for election for mayor in November.

Town resident Dan Boetz, who was not present at the meeting, was selected to fill Mr. Horton's open seat on the council. Mr. Boetz officially will be sworn in at a meeting Monday, said Gary St. John, village administrator.

Mr. St. John said the former mayor enjoyed a good working relationship with village leaders and council members.

Village officials were mum yesterday about Mr. Kroetz's exact reasons for leaving. But the town police chief, Marvin Hageman, said Mr. Kroetz's departure would have an impact on the village.

“I think he was a great mayor and I think he will be missed,” Chief Hageman said. “He was here a long time.”

Mr. Kroetz has a long history in the village, first working as police chief, then as a council member, and then as the mayor for the past five years. He was first appointed to fill an open mayoral seat, then elected to a four-year term.

In late 1981, Mr. Kroetz came under scrutiny in the village when he was charged with felony theft in office for selling for personal profit a 12-gauge shotgun and for giving away other items held as police evidence.

Former Williams County Prosecutor Anthony Gretick dropped that charge in April, 1982, at the request of former Stryker Mayor Lauren Calvin. The mayor, who said he had not properly guided Chief Kroetz, asked that the charge be dropped and the village be allowed to handle the matter internally.

Village council later chose to discipline the chief by instituting a six-month probationary period on his job.



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