Middletown’s economic director resigns after being on administrative leave

Chris Xeil Lyons, Middletown’s economic development director for the last two years has resigned, after being placed on administrative leave, joining other top officials who have left the city’s employ this year.

Lyons was placed on paid administrative leave on March 24; she submitted her resignation April 21 saying her separation date was officially April 8.

She noted she had many accomplishments during her tenure that began in the beginning of the pandemic.

“I am extremely proud to have served the citizens of Middletown and of what the Economic Development Department accomplished during my tenure,” she wrote. “I hope Middletown continues to thrive in the future.”

She could not be reached for comment.

In a letter dated March 24, Paul Lolli, Middletown’s acting city manager, wrote that Lyons was placed on paid administrative leave pending “further investigation into matters related” to her employment.

Lyons was told to “immediately relinquish” her city keys, fobs, passwords and codes to Lolli. If she had any city owned property at home, the city would send a representative to pick up those items, Lolli wrote.

But he wrote the paid administrative leave was “not a disciplinary action or adverse employment action.”

ExploreEconomic development director’s leave ‘not a disciplinary action’

Her resignation came just prior to Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement today awarding $60 million in grants for brownfield remediation. The city missed the Jan. 31 deadline to get the guaranteed $1 million — with no local match requirement — in remediation money each of the 88 counties was allocated, to help deal with the Paperboard building that was destroyed by a massive fire in 2020.

Lolli could not be reached for comment, Missy Knight, the city’s media specialist, said she can’t comment on personnel matters.

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.

Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic director, also resigned and his official last day with the city was April 8. He left to become the community and economic development director for the city of Moraine, located south of Dayton.

Council member Rodney Muterspaw previously told the Journal-News despite the loss of a city manager, assistant city manager and two economic development employees, the city of Middletown is “We are bigger than a few of people. 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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