Longtime former Miami Twp. trustee remembered as ‘fantastic individual’

Former Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Zink, at right, with former trustee Shirley Omietanski. Next year for the first time in more than half a century, there will be no Zink in elected office in Miami Twp. government.041105—-Shirley Omietanski, former trustee of Miami Township is all smiles at the dedication of a park named after her. She was a trustee for 28 years, from 1976-2003. Trustee Doug Zink is on the right. STAFF PHOTO BY BILL REINKE.

Longtime Miami Twp. trustee Shirley Omietanski is being remembered as someone whose decades of dedication on behalf of the community helped lay the groundwork for the growth that followed.

The lifelong township resident, who was elected in 1976 as its first female trustee, served in that role for nearly three decades before stepping down in 2003. She died at 86 years old Sept. 16.

“She was a fantastic individual," said former Miami Twp. Trustee Berman Layer, whose leap into politics four decades ago was prompted by Omietanski. “She cared about Miami Twp. and she cared about the county, too. She was just a great person.”

Layer said he worked with Omietanski on various projects and committees around the township “long before she became a trustee.”

ExploreMiami Twp. drawing blueprint for next growth

“We were instrumental in encouraging the township trustees to hire a person to (deal with) zoning and protect the township from annexation and things like that," said Layer, 97. “She was very concerned about the township.”

Layer said Omietanski’s stand on an issue, including developing a master plan for the township, was “never muddy or unclear." When she set her sights on something, she worked until problem was solved, he said.

Omietanski also served as a volunteer administrator for the township, coordinating with the fire and police departments and working full-time hours while making the township trustee approximate annual salary of just $4,400, Layer said.

“At that time we couldn’t afford an administrator and I don’t remember that the law at that time even allowed us to have an administrator,” he said.

ExploreMiami Twp. park improvements stall, could be revised

Omietanski was an early member of the Community Foundation of Miami Township which was instrumental in the creation of the Miami Township Veterans Memorial that sits next to the Government Center, township officials said. She was also a staunch proponent of the township’s parks system and preservation of the land.

In 2015, Miami Twp. named a 3-plus acre park at 9797 Nettleton Park Drive in her honor.

Township Administrator Ron Hess told this news outlet that Omietanski’s decades of service are a great example of how getting involved in your community can make a difference.

"She was dedicated to completing projects like the construction of the new police station in the 1980s and preserving historic sites like the Sunfish Lock on the Miami and Erie Canal, near Crains Run Park,” Hess said. “The township has a strong foundation thanks, in part, to Ms. Omietanski’s dedication and hard work. Miami Twp. is grateful for all our trustees' contributions to making this community thrive.”

ExploreDayton area theater searching for volunteers

While her heart belonged to the township, Omietanski worked on dozens of activities, commissions and boards throughout Montgomery County, all of them on a volunteer-basis, Layer said.

She also was active on the state level with the Ohio Township Association, he said.

In 1998, Omietanski earned the Citizen of the Year award from the Montgomery County Commission and was honored by the commission at a reception.

Then-Commissioner Vicki Pegg told this news outlet at the time that she affectionately referred to Omietanski as “Shirley O” and regaled listeners with stories of the O’s vast knowledge of government and her sense of history.

“Don’t tell Shirley O to go by the bylaws unless you intend to live by them,” Pegg said. “She knows them chapter and verse.”

Former Miami Twp. Administrator Dave Andersonat that time said that he never had the chance to introduce Omietanski to anyone "because she already knows everybody.”

Omietanski was born July 4, 1934, and was a graduate of Miamisburg High School and Otterbein College. She is survived by two sons and a granddaughter and preceded in death by her parents, her husband and her two brothers.

In Other News