Village holds off board’s remake

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Village manager Joe Erickson (left) and council member Don Chastan listen to comments from Village Council President Ken Waldrop at Monday’s meeting.

ONTONAGON — The Village Council adopted a wait-and-see approach after an ad hoc committee looking into the Housing Commission recommended two commission staff members be removed.

The Monday meeting was packed with community members and an officer from the Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Office.

Formed to investigate reported problems in the Housing Commission, the members conducted interviews with all five commission members, said Village President Ken Waldrop in his report.

Waldrop was part of the committee, along with trustee Don Chastan and John Cain.

Cain was brought in to serve as a neutral party who had experience on the commission and the council, Waldrop said.

“The consistencies that we encountered include all five commissioners individually stating that they do not believe that the residents best interest is being served currently because of the way this board is run. Also because of the effectiveness of the board working with administration or the lack thereof,” Waldrop said.

He cited the commission members describing a hostile environment with animosity and hate.

“All of the commissioners agree that there is a divide between the current board members and the administration office members,” Waldrop said.

The ad hoc committee’s recommendations included the removal of Housing Commission President Pam Coey and Commissioner Sue Kempen.

Waldrop stated that while Coey has the best of intentions and has shown substantial effort, her actions have been ineffective, and she was emotionally drained.

The recommended removal of Sue Kempen was attributed to a lack of understanding of job duties on the board

“Sue has more questions than answers right now,” Waldrop said. “With the state of the Housing Commission as a whole and their effectiveness, we can’t afford to have inaction on a board that obviously is in need of action.”

The ad hoc committee itself can only make recommendations, so the suggestion was posed to the Village Council.

Trustee John Hamm was the first to speak, suggesting that instead of the two commission members being removed the entire board should be replaced.

“If we’re having a board that is divided, a commission that is divided and not accomplishing anything, then maybe it’s in the best interest of everybody involved to get different people on there that are interested in straightening things out,” Hamm said.

Trustee Mike Mogan also recommended a different course of action.

“Having attended the housing meeting today I would like to have the ad hoc committee’s motion tabled for 30 days and brought back,” he said. “The reason being, actions were taken today that may, in fact, change the position of the board. I think to remove the people that are recommended here, before we’re allowed to see what transpires over the next few weeks, would not be in our best interest.”

He referred to timelines put in place at the housing commission meeting that should be allowed to play out.

The council voted unanimously to table the recommendation until April 9 at the next Housing Commission meeting, and deadlines would take place then.