Town Board selects new member

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You can always tell how heated an Oak Creek Town Board meeting was by how long it ran.

Meetings that last 45 minutes to an hour usually can be called ordinary, meetings of more that an hour -- extraordinary.

Oak Creek Town Board member Mike Kien said Thursday night's meeting was full of "dissention" and that he was shocked that the meeting, with a two-item agenda, lasted until about 9 p.m.

Kien said most of the meeting was debate about whether former Town Board member and mayor pro-tem Karen Halterman should be allowed to participate in the board's vote on her replacement. Halterman was hired Jan. 9 to be town clerk and had to resign her board seat.

Part of the meeting was devoted to the two votes electing Tom Bluer to replace Halterman.

Kien said he opposed Halterman's stance that she should vote with the board and vacate her position after her replacement was appointed.

"I just felt that (Halterman) needed to step down before we appointed a replacement," he said. "In my mind, we didn't have a position to fill until she resigned."

Halterman ended the argument by removing herself from the board and not voting in the secret-ballot election.

Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rode--man said Halterman was sworn in as town clerk before the remaining Town Board members voted on her replacement.

Rodeman said only five members were left to vote because J. Elliott was absent and attending to a work-related matter.

Bob Weiss, the town's attorney, said the board could not legally elect a new member in executive session, but instead should use secret ballots, Rodeman said.

She said each board member wrote the name of one of the five applicants. On the first vote, each of the five board members voted for a different candidate, causing a five-way tie.

"It was just too cool," Rodeman said.

Kien said the number of applicants was the real story.

"The thing that blows me away is that we had five people apply for (the Town Board),' he said.

"Community spirit has increased so much so that five people stepped forward for this."

To break the tie, board members voted again using a point system. Each member gave his first choice one point, his second two points and so on. Bluer, who received the fewest points, was elected.

Rodeman said Bluer got "along with everyone from old to young."

"He's very active in the community," she said.

Bluer will serve two months before local elections in April.

Kien said Thursday's meeting included disagreement among board members concerning creating a town position.

As soon as Halterman was sworn in, she inducted assistant billing clerk Vivian Johnson as deputy town clerk, a new position.

Kien said he and board member John Crawford thought protocol prohibited creating a new position and filling it in the same night without a mention in the agenda.

"I agreed that if (Johnson) was already doing the job, we should pay her for doing that," he said. "I didn't think we could vote to create a new position.

"I don't care how many lawyers tell me it's right. I don't think it's right," he said.

Halterman and Johnson assume their new jobs Monday.

--To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

The Oak Creek Town Board:

Tabled a discussion about Sierra View subdivision's request to turn one eight-plex lot into two four-plex lots. The board learned it must notify the public 14 days before the item was going to be on the agenda. The issue is slated to be revisited Feb. 9.

Decided new Town Clerk Karen Halterman will decide how to enforce a part of the town's land-use code that requires newly established businesses to meet with the Town Board concerning sales tax licenses and fire inspections.

Approved the Department of Public Works request to accrue overtime up to five days and to use the accrued time as compensation days during the summer when the department is less busy.

-- Pilot & Today staff

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