LA CROFT -Longtime Liverpool Township trustee Karl "Butch" Kontnier was remembered by colleagues on Monday evening before a regularly scheduled board meeting. Kontnier died Saturday afternoon at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh after battling a brief illness, according to his obituary. He was 71 years old.
A member of the East Liverpool High School class of 1959, Kontnier worked at Crucible Steel and served on the East Liverpool Fire Department before spending 31 years at the Columbiana County Highway Department, where he retired as superintendent. As a trustee, Kontnier was a member of the Ohio Township Association and served on the Columbiana County Board of Health.
Kontnier is survived by his wife of 50 years, Jerry Hubbard Kontnier, and their three daughters: Kellie Rogers and her husband, Scott; Missy Smith and her husband, Scott; and Amy Trevor and her husband, Tom, plus four grandchildren, all of East Liverpool.
Karl 'Butch' Kontnier
Township Fire Chief Mike Bahen knew Kontnier for more than 25 of his 41 years with Liverpool Township. In fact, the two men were in the running for a seat on the board of trustees during Kontnier's first election win in 1991. Despite not winning that electoral contest, Bahen says he never doubted Kontnier's dedication.
"He gave it 110 percent," said Bahen. "When you get to it, Butch pretty much ran this township."
Trustee Steve Betteridge served on the board alongside Kontnier for 12 years. He called Kontnier a forefather of the township, praising his intelligence and administrative know-how. "His leadership and his ability was second to none," Betteridge said.
Betteridge says that Kontnier will be fondly remembered not only for his management of township business, but also for his easygoing personality. "He was a fun guy, a nice guy to be around," Betteridge said. Among Kontnier's strongest traits, according to Betteridge, were his experience, honesty and plainspokenness. "There was a lot of knowledge there, and he would let you know about it."
As outspoken as he may have been, Bahen says Kontnier was very generous when it came to making sure that the fire department was equipped with the best that was available. "Butch's theory was, never purchase the cheapest because it isn't the best. If you had to pay a little bit more to get the better equipment, then pay it."
The present evidence of that commitment to the department is a pair of new mini-pumper trucks for the department, which are presently being finished at the factory. "Anything I ever needed, I always called him," Bahen said. "He helped me on every fire truck purchase."