Editor’s Note: This story is the third part of a series profiling the mayors of villages in Vinton County. Stories to come will detail leaders in the villages of McArthur.
ZALEKSI — Newly-elected Zaleski Mayor Michael Amerine doesn’t necessarily know how to slow down and relax, but he’s trying, in a way. He went on his first vacation — ever — two years ago. Since then, he’s been spending time with his son, Shaun, going to football games and other fun events.
This has been a drastic a real change of pace from his younger years: he often would be at class during the day at ITT Tech in the Dayton area, then work a shift or two at a grocery store, go home, take a quick nap, then go back to class.
Amerine was elected mayor of Zaleski during the 2019 general election. Joining him as newly-elected village leaders are councilmembers Barbara Deal and Susan Tripp.
Amerine might not have political experience before entering the mayoral race, but he has family members who were: his grandpa was Willy Hale, who brought the Emergency Management Service to the county and served as the county’s commissioner. In addition, his grandmother wasn’t necessarily a political leader, but she was a leader in Zaleski.
Shirlene Hale owned the Village Inn, which closed its doors last year. He noted she was always the person people could turn to for help. She loved running her business and often gave free meals to visitors on the holidays and beyond.
“If she prospered, everyone prospered,” he said.
Amerine has been active in other community organizations: the Zaleski Volunteer Fire Department, various churches and more.
Amerine decided to run for the position of mayor because he wants to see his home flourish, and he sees a lot of opportunity for the village surrounded by state forests. He and other village officials have hopes for a convenience store or gas station coming to their area, but Amerine also wants to add to the area’s businesses himself. He plans on constructing cabins in the Zaleski area. He’s hoping to begin construction this spring, and after that, may add more.
Part of this initiative also is due to the fact he wants projects to fulfill during his retirement.
Again, relaxation is not his thing.
There are also some logistical items he and village officials plan on addressing right away: for instance, he and other council members are hoping to obtain grant funding to update water lines in the village.
Amerine hopes the renovations and other projects in his village may encourage business to take root in his part of the county. He noted many young people grow up in the area, but not many can stay due to lack of employment opportunities.
“I just want kids to be encouraged to stay instead of leave,” he said. “I’m going to do my best to achieve what goals I’ve set for the village.”