Book Cover

Dance of the Trustees

On the Astonishing Concerns of a Small Ohio Township

Dylan Taylor-Lehman

6 X 9, 224 pp.
30 illustrations
Pub Date: August, 2018

Subjects: Ohio
Political Science

Imprint: Trillium

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  ISBN: 978-0-8142-5483-7
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“Dylan Taylor-Lehman has a curiosity that knows no bounds, and he has trained it on the quirky concerns of a village and township in southwest Ohio where he lived for two years. Lucky for us, the readers, his narrative voice is as charming and distinctive as his curiosity is strong — this book is a funny, informative and delightful look at small town shenanigans and goings-on.” —Diane Chiddister, Editor, Yellow Springs News

On September 9, 2015, in the quirky village of Yellow Springs, Ohio, the Miami Township Board of Trustees arbitrated a dispute concerning an area bed and breakfast that was apparently causing a lot of problems in the neighborhood where it was located. People were irate – the B&B was considered too loud or unfairly under attack, and the township officials were called incompetent by both sides for not ruling in their favor. The trustees looked amused, concerned, interested, annoyed, and baffled at the situation before them.

But this quaint debate was one of many fascinating problems the trustees deal with on a daily basis. While Miami Township is small, the concerns are myriad – cemeteries are filled with unknown remains, there is a fire department to oversee, and they sometimes take legal action against properties clogged with junk. The responsibilities are doubly impressive considering no trustees have backgrounds in public office.

This book combines entertaining nonfiction vignettes with well-researched township history – including its history of religious cults and the possibility that Lee Harvey Oswald was once in town – and elucidates the processes behind an entire civic division. The book documents 21st century township life with humor, warmth and erudition, but also with the scholarship befitting an easy to read civics textbook.

Dylan Taylor-Lehman is a nonfiction writer from southeastern Ohio. Previously a reporter for the Yellow Springs News, he also writes about Bigfoot, micronations, and landfills. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in English and then set out to try as many jobs as possible, which led to memorable stints as a professional mover, carpenter, and black mold eradicator. Now, he vastly prefers poring over dusty old histories and being holed up and writing for days on end. He currently lives in El Paso, Texas, and looks forward to checking out the minor civil jurisdictions in other states and countries.

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction     An Unusual Crowd
Chapter 1        Quaint Vituperations: The Glen House Inn Controversy

Historical Interlude 1 ~ A Brief History of Miami Township’s Boundaries, Development, and the People Therein

Chapter 2        The Debate about Breakfast’s Legality Resurfaces
Chapter 3        “A Quarter-Inch of Chaos”: At the 2015 APWA Southwestern Ohio Snow and Ice Removal Conference

Historical Interlude 2 ~ The Noteworthy Buildings, Religious Reformers, and Principled Citizens of Miami Township

Chapter 4        Procedure
Chapter 5        The Fire Department Report
Chapter 6        Cemetery Business, Part 1 ~ New Tech Finds Old Graves: A Few Days in Miami Township’s “Most Visible Cemetery”
Chapter 7        Cemetery Business, Part 2 ~ An Account of the Township’s Murders

Historical Interlude 3 ~ An Overview of the Township’s Celebrity Density, and the Rumor That Lee Harvey Oswald Was in the Area

Chapter 8        The Fiscal Officer’s Report
Chapter 9        The Zoning Inspector’s Report
Chapter 10      The Meeting Is Over

Historical Interlude 4 ~ “No other Township . . . can claim as many acres of Township land protected from development”

Coda    Township Trustee Elections
Appendix A    Unintended Consequences: An Essay about Community
by Deann Ward
Appendix B     Interviews with Miami Township Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Colin Altman and Lieutenant Nate Ayers
Appendix C     Old News from Miami Township and Selections from the Yellow Springs News Police Blotter, August 2015–December 2016
Sources
About the Author

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