Middletown’s economic development director says she has been placed on administrative leave

Chris Xeil Lyons, hired two years ago as Middletown economic development director, was placed on administrative leave on March 25, she said.

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Chris Xeil Lyons, hired two years ago as Middletown economic development director, was placed on administrative leave on March 25, she said.

City leaders not commenting about Lyons, who has worked for the city for two years

The city of Middletown is operating without its top two economic development staff members.

Chris Xeil Lyons, Middletown’s economic development director for the last two years, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 25, pending “further investigation,” she told the Journal-News. She didn’t want to disclose any of the details regarding the action.

Acting City Manager Paul Lolli, in a text message to the Journal, wrote “no comment” when asked if he could confirm whether Lyons was placed on leave.

Missy Knight, the city’s media specialist, said she can never comment on any personnel matters.

The Journal-News has submitted a public records request to review documents related to any disciplinary action against Lyons. Officials told the newspaper those records will be available early next week.

Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic director, has submitted his letter of resignation, he told the Journal-News. He’s on PTO and he’s last official day with the city is April 8. He has accepted a position as community and economic development director for the city of Moraine, located south of Dayton.

Eisenbraun, 57, said his resignation wasn’t connected to Lyons being placed on leave.

Middletown also is operating with an acting city manager and without an assistant city manager.

Jim Palenick, who served as city manager for less than two years, signed a separation agreement with the city last month, and Assistant City Manager Susan Cohen has been named administrator for Union Twp. in Clermont County.

Despite the loss of a city manager, assistant city manager and two economic development employees, the city of Middletown is “moving forward,” said council member Rodney Muterspaw.

He said Middletown City Council is meeting with developers of the Towne Mall Galleria “very soon” to discuss future plans on the East End mall.

“We are bigger than a few of people,” he said. “It’s business as usual.”

In March 2020, Lyons, who had 24 years of experience in the business, was named economic development director and was paid $95,166 per year.

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She has held numerous leadership positions and she served as a deputy Butler County auditor in the real estate division from 1996 to 2003.

A 1996 graduate of Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Lyons also studied at Regents College Internationals Business School in London, England in 1994. She received her master’s degree in business administration from Thomas More College in 2003 and is also has an inactive Ohio real estate license.

Lyons also ran unsuccessfully for West Chester Twp. trustee in 2009 and in 2011.

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