Hammond board appoints new trustee
The Hammond Village Board unanimously appointed a new trustee at Monday night’s meeting after hearing from three potential candidates.
Stan Kolakowski, 295 Johnson Pkwy., a regional quality manager at Fairmount Minerals, was unanimously appointed trustee after each candidate was given five minutes to tell the board why he wanted to be a trustee.
The two other men who asked to be considered were Ron Kappers, who ran in April’s election, and Del Werner, who attends most Village Board meetings. Rob Ward had expressed interest at the last meeting, but was not present Monday night.
Before appointing a trustee, Trustee Sandy Brecht read a letter she had written to the board and the audience. Part of it said “It’s OK to have a dialog about differences. We need to start listening to each other and to be respectful of each other. If we continue to run this board how it’s running now, we’re doing damage to ourselves and to others.”
At the last board meeting, trustees argued over who to appoint and why, which upset some board members to the point of threatening resignation. Trustees Lynn Pabst and Brecht had called the session “embarrassing.”
The board also discussed its elected official ordinance before the trustee appointment. Brecht said to be fair to all, the board must be consistent. She suggested making it a policy to automatically appoint the person next in line with the most votes, which in this case would have been Kappers.
Village attorney Tim Scott disagreed, saying that state statute requires an appointment be made by majority vote by the board.
Trustee Wally Graf said in his mind the election is over, and the people who elected him “have faith in me to make the best decision for the village.”
Graf said he considers this one of his first decisions to make as a newly elected trustee.
“We’re back to square one,” Graf said. “It’s our job to make that decision because that’s what we were elected to do.”
Pabst suggested allowing each candidate five minutes to tell the board why he wanted to be appointed and what issues he felt were important in the village.
“I want to put an end to this and be done with it,” Brecht said. “You can’t run a meeting with six people. It just doesn’t work. We need a full board.”
Kappers was picked randomly to go first. He said he has lived in Hammond for 30 years and has seen a lot of bad choices that should have been corrected years ago, projects that need doing that have been left undone, and projects that have been done that didn’t need doing.
Issues he had questions about included the need for the south water tower, funding for “sewer projects gone awry,” funding for the library being “at the bottom of the list in this town,” wanting the second phase of Davis Street completed when the I-94 interchange at County Road T is begun in 2016, updating the parks, redoing sidewalks, cutting costs down in general and keeping water rates from increasing.
Werner said he has lived in Hammond for 44 years, and has attended Village Board meetings for the past three.
“The board needs to make decisions and move on,” Werner said as his reason for wanting the position. “Anyone that knows me knows I call a spade a spade.”
He also questioned the timeline for completing the second phase of the Davis Street project. He said he wants to be appointed so he can make a difference.
Kolakowski, who has lived in Hammond for seven years, said he has seen the village struggle to grow, dissension on the board and lack of follow-through by past board members.
He listed his experience in the mining, automotive, electronic, aerospace and construction industries as assets.
“I’d love to see Hammond expand. I’d love to see the property values escalate instead of going down like they have,” Kolakowski said.
He also would like to see Davis Street finished and an indoor sports dome built in the village, with the potential of renting it out to other municipalities. He said there are ways to fund such projects, such as naming rights and corporate sponsorships.
“That’s the key. Get things in here that will lure people to want to come to Hammond to live,” Kolakowski said. “Not just pass through and stop at the burger joints and drink some beers and park their motorcycles along Main Street.”
Board members seemed hesitant to vote aloud, but since the vote is public record, they had to voice their vote once a motion was made. President Tony Bibeau made the motion to appoint Kolakowski, which was seconded by Graf. Kolakowski was elected unanimously.
“It’s going to be a hard vote no matter what we do, because they’re all good,” Trustee Laurie Gruber said.
Kolakowski was immediately sworn in and took his place on the board.
In other business
- The board voted to have Scott draft an amendment to the subdivision ordinance stating that the village will require final plat approvals before lots may be sold in any development.
- The board voted to allow no more than $1,200 to be spent to equip Well #2 with chlorination equipment. The DNR is requiring the village to amend its well abandonment ordinance, supply a digital map of the water lines, and draft a chlorination plan for Well #2.
- The board approved spending $1,250 from the sewer fund to pay for Fluidyne to train Public Works Department employees one-on-one on all aspects of the wastewater treatment plant.
- The board approved the final draft of the employee handbook, minus vacation and paid time off items, which will be addressed at employees’ contract renewals.
- The board voted to accept Attorney Carol Skinner’s fee agreement, which pays her $325 an hour for services and $145 an hour for her assistant’s services.
- The next board meeting will be held Wednesday, May 28, at 6 p.m. to accommodate the Memorial Day holiday on the fourth Monday.
- Brian Wert was appointed the village zoning officer at a rate of $100 per month through next April. He must provide a monthly statement of itemized bills.
- A beer garden permit was approved for Parkside Restaurant, 555 Davis St.