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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2003

Defiance city official resigns under cloud

DEFIANCE - City Administrator Roger Reece, who is being investigated for the possible personal use of city-purchased gasoline, submitted his resignation yesterday. It took effect immediately.

Mr. Reece, who became city administrator in February, 2001, was unavailable for comment.

Mayor Fred Schultz said Mr. Reece gave him a letter of resignation first thing yesterday morning, a move that did not surprise the mayor.

“I think Roger for some time has been looking for an alternative way,” he said. “The narrow vote of confidence by the council, well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to think maybe they'd be better off somewhere else.”

Mr. Reece narrowly escaped being fired this year when four of the seven council members voted not to renew his contract. It would have taken five councilmen to overturn the mayor's decision to reappoint him.

Council members said at the time they voted against Mr. Reece because they were not pleased with his job performance, and not because of an investigation last fall that turned up pornographic material on his city-owned computer.

Mr. Shultz said he did not believe the previous or current investigation had anything to do with Mr. Reece's resignation. Instead, he said it was something the city manager had thought about for some time.

Defiance County Sheriff David Westrick confirmed yesterday that Mr. Reece was the focus of an investigation by his department. The sheriff said he hopes to meet with an appointed prosecutor sometime next week to answer questions about potential charges.

The mayor said the city will put out feelers locally and beyond for a new city administrator. Until one is found, Mr. Schultz said he would take on additional duties.

“I think Roger did his very best and worked very hard and I wish him the best of luck, as do many people at the city,” the mayor said.

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