The Soldiers Grove Volunteer Fire Department’s officers were approved as presented by Fire Chief Dave Clason at the village board meeting last Thursday night.
However, Soldiers Grove Village President Laurel Hestetune felt compelled to vote no on approval, when the roll call vote was taken. He also took the time to explain his vote.
Soldiers Grove Village Trustees Jerry Moran, Bob Froiseth, Paul Nicholson and Jim Helgerson voted yes to approve Dave Clason as fire chief, Jim Cox as the first assistant chief, Ryan Clason as the second assistant chief and Bill Zirk as both the fire department’s secretary and treasurer. Hestetune voted no. Village trustee Shayne Chapman abstained from voting and trustee Roy Davidson was absent.
In voting no, Hestetune took exception to having Zirk fill the positions of both secretary and treasurer.
“I had a hard time making up my mind about this. I thought about this for a long time. But having two positions filled by the same person after everything that happened last year…if this had been the village clerk, the maintenance person, the librarian, they would have been fired. What my gut tells me…I’m voting no.”
Hestetune’s explanation of his vote against approving the fire department officers appeared to be a direct rebuke to the nomination of Bill Zirk to positions of secretary and treasurer. In the previous year, the department lost six radios and then replaced them by purchasing them from Zirk’s company, D&Z Rescue Products. Along the way, it was discovered through serial numbers that one of the radios Zirk sold, as a replacement, was actually a radio owned and listed as missing by the department. Additionally, Zirk had sought $8,400 in interest payments for late payment from the village for three or four months while the board withheld payment of $12,000 for the six radios and investigated the situation surrounding the missing radios. Ultimately, an interest payment of just $600 was made by the village and accepted by Zirk.
During the public works report, the board tackled a request for snow removal from the United Methodist Church. The Methodists noted that Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and the United Church of Christ were both having their parking lots plowed during the village’s snow removal efforts. Several village trustees agreed the small lot adjacent to the alley could easily be plowed by the village and it was agreed the village would do it.
The United Methodist Church had also requested the village remove snow from the sidewalk up to the church door, but trustees saw that as another matter since the village wasn’t performing the service for anyone else. It was suggested the church would need to hire someone else to remove that snow.
In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:
• heard a report from a delegation from North Crawford Schools on a referendum now planned for next August on the construction of a proposed school-community fitness center
• tabled action on a requested donation from the Crawford County Economic Development Corporation for $250
• heard in a brief Community Development Corporation report that the proposed microbrewery purchase of the former grocery remained on track to close soon
• approved a Soldiers Grove Plan Commission recommendation to annex a property from the Town of Clayton into the Village of Soldiers Grove
• adopted an ordinance annexing the Town of Clayton property into the Village of Soldiers Grove
• reviewed and approved corrected zoning maps prepared by Vierbicher and Associates and agreed to pay the firm for the work
• drew for candidate placement on the ballot with the results: 1) Roy Davidson 2) Shayne Chapman 3) Jim Helgerson