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County Board regroups after major turnover

A six-year veteran of the St. Croix County Board was elected its chairman as new officers and committees were chosen on Tuesday, April 15.

The county’s four judges led the 15 men and four women in taking the oath of office as 10 newly elected board members joined nine continuing supervisors for the new board’s first business meeting following the April 1 election.

Roger Larson, Star Prairie, who is beginning his fourth two-year term, was named chair, defeating Agnes Ring, Houlton, on a vote of 14-5.

Dave Ostness, River Falls, who has been on the board for four years, was chosen as vice chairman. He defeated Jill Berke, Town of Troy, on a vote of 12-6.

As part of the transition, the board honored 10 supervisors who either chose not to run or were defeated, but only the two with the most time on the board attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“I doubt that any of you can fully appreciate how hard it was for me to come here this morning, but not to come would have been disrespectful,” said Daryl Standafer, who was defeated after 20 years on the board and had served most recently as it chair.

“My life has been enriched by serving with people with talent and dedication,” said Standafer, who said he has great respect for the institution.

Paraphrasing a section of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Standafer said there is a time for everything and a season for every activity.

“There was a time for me to join the County Board 20 years ago, and now it is time for me to depart,” said Standafer as he asked for God’s blessing on the supervisors’ work.

“You’ll be very frustrated at times,” advised Buck Malick, who was on the board for 16 years and served six years as its chair. “You new members have that to look forward to. People don’t tell you that when you run.”

He asked them to remember, “It’s not about us. It’s about God’s people.”

Other former board members also recognized for their service were Tom Hawksford, one term; Tim Hood, one term; Fred Horne, three terms; Brian Hurtgen, three terms; Joe Hurtgen, four terms; Richard Ottino, one term; Duane Russett, one term; and Fred Yoerg, one term.

The board elected members to the following four committees:

Administration: Jill Berke, Judy Achterhof, Ron Kiesler, Roy Sjoberg and Travis Schachtner

Community Development: Achterhof, Shaela Leibfried, Berke, Agnes Ring and Daniel Hansen

Public Protection: Stephen Nielsen, Roger Larson, Andy Brinkman, Chris Babbitt and Scott Nelson

Transportation: William Peavey, Dave Ostness, David Peterson, Scott Nelson and Hansen

The committees will elect their own chairpersons.

County Administrator Pat Thompson appointed and the board confirmed County Board members to these two boards:

Health and Human Services: Babbitt, three-year term; Paulette Anderson, three years; Leibfried, one year; and Howard Novotny, one year

Council on Aging and Disabilities: Anderson, Kiesler and Dave Ostness

Thompson said he will ask the chairman to schedule a committee of the whole meeting in May to review the strategic plan and get the new supervisors’ input. He also said administrators are working on a five-year capital improvement plan, which will be presented to the board in June.

The agenda called for the adoption of revised rules and bylaws, but Sjoberg suggested delaying that action in the interest of honoring a desire for the board to be more transparent in its actions. He suggested sending the proposed amendments back to the Administration Committee for a thorough examination.

Berke suggested amending the motion to then send the proposal to the Committee of the Whole and back to the Administration Committee before it comes to the full board for adoption.

That amendment carried on a 14-5 vote, and the main motion carried on a vote of 15-4.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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