Housing Commission debates what happened in previous meetings

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette The Ontonagon Village Housing Commission is seen here on Monday debating the wording of the minutes from three previous meetings.

ONTONAGON — It took more than a half-hour Monday for Ontonagon Village Housing Commission (OVHC) commissioners to debate the specific wording in the minutes of three past meetings.

The heated debate dealt with what happened during a special meeting on Aug.14, a meeting called for “personnel disciplinary” reasons. Recently appointed commissioner and Village Manager Joe Erickson and Commissioner Rich Ernest insisted the meeting was a “special meeting” to go over reimbursement receipts.

That meeting went into closed session, so the issue was not only the wording of what the minutes of the meeting stated but also correcting the minutes.

Commissioners approved the wording change of the Aug. 14 meeting to remove “personal disciplinary action” from the minutes.

This prompted OVHC Secretary Sue Lockhart, who had her attorney present at that meeting, to request the phrase “personal disciplinary action” to be included in the minutes. The majority of the commissioners voted to not include the phrase.

This was not the only dispute in meeting minutes that incurred during the lengthy discussion. Minutes from the Aug. 21 and Sept. 15 meetings were also debated.

After the debate, corrections were made on the minutes of those meetings, but the minutes to the Aug. 21 meeting were not approved.

“We have not received our HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funding without having approved minutes,” stated OVHC President Pam Cooey.

It was during the meeting that Ernest handed out seven pages of what he stated were complaints from residents. Ernest stated that what he distributed only to commissioners was not a witch hunt, but it was to give to the commissioners for informational purposes.

The Daily Mining Gazette obtained a copy of what Ernest handed out. Most of the individuals complaining were unidentified, and the ones who were identified were nonresidents.

Also raised during the meeting was an alleged confrontation between OVHC resident Dave Chastain, and his brother, Don Chastain, with OVHC Executive Director Sally Jarvey and Lockhart on Sept. 19.

“We the commission ask anyone with a complaint to bring it to the office so it can be addressed,” Jarvey said. “Due to an incident that occurred on Sept. 19, 2017, that was extremely inappropriate, the office will have a complaint form that must be filled out, dated and signed by the individual making the complaint and hand it into the office,” stated Jarvey. “All complaints should be in writing. The complaint will be delivered to the resident’s home.”

Don Chastain, also a member of the Village Council, denied some of the allegations made by Jarvey and Lockhart.

“This is not what happened,” Chastain said.

The commissioners approved remodeling the offices, during which individuals will not be allowed to go directly into the director and secretary’s office. Commissioners agreed this would be similar to that of other government offices.

The alleged altercation was reported to have brought Village President Gerard Waldrop into the incident. Waldrop had requested to be on the agenda, but he did not attend the meeting.

The commission voted to have a special meeting Wednesday to go over the specific salary for Lockhart. The meeting will be closed to the public.

In other business, the commission agreed to send a formal letter to the village requesting a transfer of the OVHC property’s deed to the commission.