First woman to serve on Tiltonsville Council retires

TILTONSVILLE – Women weren’t involved a great deal in village politics in Eastern Ohio during the 1970s, but that didn’t stop Jane Thompson from becoming the first woman to serve on Tiltonsville Council.

Now, after 36 years and one month as a council member, Thompson is retiring from the village post.

Despite her busy schedule of teaching grade school pupils and rearing her own five children, Thompson was willing to serve on council.

Noting that she’d always been interested in government, Thompson said she decided to apply to fill a council vacancy in 1976 when John Brandi, now deceased, retired from that post. When she told her husband, Clifford, that she’d like to be a council member, he remarked, “You’re nuts.”

Her arrival for being sworn in as a council member by the late Orlando Prati, mayor at that time, might be considered a little unusual. She rode in a police cruiser. John Morelli, who was Tiltonsville police chief back then, had gone to the Thompson home to inform her of her selection and then provided a ride for her to the municipal building.

Looking back over the years, Thompson mentioned several major developments that occurred while she was a council member.

She also was quick to give credit to other council members for these developments. “We made a lot of good decisions,” Thompson added.

One thing was the purchase of the former Riverside Drive-In property where three lagoons for sewage were constructed. This wastewater treatment plant serves Tiltonsville and Rayland.

She also mentioned water system improvements such a well replaced in 2006, new submergible pumps installed later and upgrading the water plant, which serves Tiltonsville, Rayland and parts of Jefferson County.

A pump station was upgraded with an aeration system.

Thompson also said village officials never had to increase water and sewer rates while she was a council member.

“We have a sanitation company that’s unbelievable and reasonable,” said the Tiltonsville woman, who explained that NC Sanitation had never increased its rates for residential garbage collection in the village. She added village businesses negotiate their own rates.

What Thompson liked best about serving on council was “when we could fix a problem that someone had.”

The councilwoman, who was known for her little notebooks in which she wrote council notes, mentioned how residents would call about problems such as lights being out as well as catch basin and street problems.

A teacher for 32 years in the Buckeye Local School District, Thompson started her teaching career on a two-year certificate, as there was a great need for teachers. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1974 from Ohio University after attending OU classes held at Martins Ferry High School and later at St. Clairsville High School. Her college education was completed in Athens.

Recalling that some college degrees in that era were mailed because of campus unrest resulting from the Kent State University shootings, Thompson said a ceremony later was held at OU in Athens for those who already received degrees. The ceremony was during the afternoon on the same day that her grandson, Gary Alan Thompson, received a degree in industrial engineering that morning in Athens.

“My whole family was there. They loved it,” she added.

Her first teaching job was in Rayland and after that elementary school closed, Thompson taught in Tiltonsville for 20 years before that school closed. She then was a teacher in Yorkville where she initially taught the third grade and then taught computer for three grades.

“I went full circle,” she added, explaining she is a graduate of the former Yorkville High School. Her father had a grocery store on Public Road, and he made homemade sausage for Christmas and Easter, selling it “by the tons.” The store also was popular with Hill School students who used to buy penny candy there.

Thompson had praise for her grade school pupils. “I had my good students, let me tell you,” she said. “They got to do things that are tremendous. You feel you have a little stitch in it – that’s what’s good about teaching.”

After leaving Yorkville, the Thompsons were in Virginia while her husband was in the Air Force.

She and her husband now deceased, became the parents of five children: Clifford and Gary, both Tiltonsville residents; Joyce Hackett and Janet Steadman, both of Columbus; and Jeffrey, Walled Lake of Mich.

Concerning retiring from council, Thompson said, “I figured I’d been there long enough and would give somebody else a chance.”

A new council member is expected to be named Monday during the Village Council meeting. Three applications for the post were received at the last meeting, and it was decided to have the next regular meeting on Monday rather than Tuesday, officials said.