Etna Green workers moving into new Town Hall

(Dan Spalding / Times-Union)

The building once known as The Etna Bank at Walnut and Broadway has a new sign high above the cement cornerstone: Town of Etna Green Municipal Offices.

Town leaders ushered in a new era Tuesday as officials held their first town council meeting in the new town hall.

In just a matter of weeks, the town acquired the property and completed renovations of the new town hall.

Town employees are expected to move into the old bank building today when internet and phone service are hooked up.

Old teller windows inside the building have been removed and replaced with fresh carpet, creating a large lobby that will double as the council chambers.

The bright, open space is a sharp contrast to the small, cluttered meeting room officials have used for nearly three decades at the Etna Township Fire office just west of the new town hall.

Instead of folding tables, council members now sit behind a large wood laminate table acquired from the banks and they have nameplates, which is a first.

“I’m loving the new place,” said Council Vice President Kevin Smith. “It looks great. Good job, guys.”

The new town hall provides more space for employees and more storage space. Clerk-Treasurer Patricia Cook and deputy clerk Eileen Hall will have separate offices.

More importantly, according to several officials, paperwork and maps that document details for the town’s utilities – traditionally kept in three locations – will now be housed in one of the two fire-proof vaults.

The transition is especially poignant for Council President Todd Slabaugh. His grandmother’s mother and her family – the Idens – opened and operated Etna Bank, and he recalls playing in a back room of the bank where family members let him sift through piles of pennies in search of wheat pennies.

Slabaugh thanked  former clerk-treasurer Laura Baker for her role in the move. She served for more than two decades as clerk-treasurer, but abruptly resigned the night council approved the purchase of the building because of nagging political small talk that she said took a toll on her.

Baker did not attend the meeting.

“I would like to acknowledge Laura’s help in making this happen from the inception to today. Lot of behind-the-scenes work,” Slabaugh  said.

He also thanked Andrew Cook, who oversees wastewater and streets, and Barry Baker, who oversees electric and water.

“They did a really good job and saved us a lot of money,” Slabaugh said.

Patricia Cook, who was appointed to replace Baker, said she was both “excited and nervous” as she sat through her first meeting. She also offered thanks to her predecessor.

“I’m pretty nervous, but I got a lot of great people, especially Laura, backing me,” she said. “Props to her.”

One of the first moves by council on Tuesday was the approval of a final payment to Interra Credit Union to pay off the remaining cost of the building, which was sold for $115,000.

The town hall phone number, 574-858-9321, will remain the same.