The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Guzek to remain on Ontonagon Village Council

 

January 14, 2020



By JAN TUCKER

jantuck@jamadots.com

Ontonagon — In an unusual move Monday, the Ontonagon Village Council both un-appointed and re-appointed the same person as a trustee.

Maureen Guzek was appointed a village trustee in November 2019. At the December council meeting, Ontonagon resident William Johnson noted that Guzek’s name was among a list of residents with unpaid property taxes printed in the Dec. 18 Ontonagon Herald, and said the law does not permit someone in default to the village at the time of appointment to serve as an officer.

On Monday, the council approved a resolution vacating Guzek’s trusteeship. The council then voted to appoint Guzek back on to the village council, after Tony Smydra, council president, said Guzek had paid her back taxes and was the best person for the appointment at the time of the meeting.

“...And she still is the best person for it,” Smydra said.

Guzek was not present at the meeting.

Smydra addressed another statement from the December meeting, claiming that Guzek has a conflict of interest as the editor of the Ontonagon Herald. The Herald is the official newspaper of the village for the purposes of news, official announcements and legally required postings.

Smydra said the village contacted its attorney on the issue. The reply was that as long as Guzek continues to abstain from council votes regarding the posting of required notices in the Herald, there “is not and will not be a conflict of interest.”

Another issue raised at the December meeting concerned a member of the council who raises chickens in the village limits. The questioner felt this was against the village law.

Joe Erickkson, village manager, said the Michigan Right to Farm Act provides exemptions to local ordinances when farming practices follow generally accepted agricultural practices.

Smydra continued that councilperson Sarah Hopper lives in one of those areas. The exemption is valid when more than 1,500 feet from a hospital, school, church or park and there are five or fewer occupied residences within one-quarter mile from the residence in question.

In the public comment section of the council session Monday, however, Sue Lockhart said the council had “opted out of the Right to Farm Act many years ago.”

In other action the village scheduled a budget session for Friday, Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

In the presidents report, Smydra wished everyone a happy new year on behalf of the village.

“As we move forward into a new year, the village looks forward to our village not to simply survive another year, but rather, to thrive,” he said.

Smydra also urged residents to welcome the “skiers, the snowmobilers, the snowshoers, and the other adventurers in our community.”

“For those who enjoy this special season, we say enjoy and thank you for being a part of this journey,” he said.

 
 

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