Othmer steps back from municipal service in Cobalt

Darlene Wroe

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

COBALT - A well-known municipal politician has stepped down from Cobalt council after 25 years of service.

George Othmer served as mayor for the past four years on top of a previous term-and-a-half as mayor.

He also sat as councillor for several terms for a municipal career totalling 25 years.

This last term was served during the difficult times of the pandemic, he said, but attributed the successes of that term to the entire council and the assistance of the staff.

With the onset of the pandemic a decision was made to not allow members of the public into the town office, he said.

"There were several people definitely upset because the town office was not opened but we kept our staff safe. Nobody got sick. Nobody lost time because of the pandemic." Work continued to get done through a shift system in the office coordinated by deputy clerk Dale Taylor, he explained.

The council continued to meet either by Zoom or by calling in by phone, he said.

Through that time there were many achievements: the signing of a ten-year agreement with Ontario Clean Water Agency for the management of the town's drinking water, and also for the town's wetland system (for sewage); the hiring of Steve Dalley as town manager; Pete Gilboe as bylaw officer; Aaron Williams as a public works supervisor; the construction of a new workshop for public works; the purchase of a loader and new truck; the completion of upgrades to the water treatment plant; a new agreement with Solaire to receive $10,000 annually for the lease of the land for the solar farm; the hiring of intern Evan Franks who has been updating the town's asset management plan; and overseeing the improvements at Teck Park.

Along with his 25 years on council, Othmer has been a member of the Cobalt Fire Department for 35 years and achieved the position of deputy chief before stepping down.

He said of the future council that "it's time for young blood. I think new ideas aren't going to hurt us."

Othmer said the pandemic made it "a long four years. It was difficult to do business at all times but we got through it. I had a great group of people to work with, council and staff."

He also commented on the passing of Bill Gabbani who was a councillor when he died suddenly earlier in the year.

"He was a very good friend," said Othmer. "He was dedicated to the municipality. His heart was in everything he was doing."

John Hodgson also served as chief administrative officer and "came along when we needed someone and he really gave us a big help and a boost."

Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker