River Country Journal
Celebrating and Nurturing Life in Southwest Michigan's River Country

All Stories

December 4, 2012

Reconstituted village council in place in Constantine

More articles by »
Written by: Bruce Snook
Constantine Village Office - brickwork

The Constantine Village Council – with a somewhat different cast as a result of the November 6th general election – met in regular session Monday evening (December 3rd).

The Constantine Village Council – reconfigured after the November 6th general election – met Monday evening. From left to right, Trustees Gary Mathers, Cathy Piper and Bob Brewer; Village Manager Mark Honeysett, Village President Pat Weiss and Village Clerk Cindy LaFluer; and Trustees Willie Harder, Dick Larrance and MacKenzie Strawser. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Pat Weiss, former village president, was back in that role after defeating Ruth Strawser in last month’s balloting.


MacKenzie Strawser, who served as village president the last two years, shifted to her new role as a village trustee.

Cindy LaFluer moved from being a trustee to village clerk, succeeding Ruth Strawser who, instead of seeking another term as clerk, competed with Weiss for the office of village president.

New to the council is Cathy Piper, in place as a trustee after running as a write-in candidate.

Also new to the village government lineup is Mindy Hulse as village treasurer.  She was elected to the post in November and succeeds Donna Strawser who decided to retire from the position she held for 21 years.

Gary Mathers, Bob Brewer, Willie Harder and Dick Larrance are continuing their service as village trustees.

Village President Pat Weiss presents a framed resolution to Donna Strawser, honoring her for service to the community including 21 years as village treasurer.  (Click on photo to enlarge)

The meeting brought the adoption of resolutions honoring Donna Strawser, Ruth Strawser and Sarah Moore for their service to the village.  Moore served as a trustee, but did not seek re-election.  Donna Strawser was on hand for the meeting and Weiss presented the framed resolution to her.

In presiding over the meeting, Weiss suggested that references to the ‘audience participation’ portion of the ‘newsletter minutes’ from the November 19th meeting, written by former Clerk Ruth Strawser, and a summary of results from the November 6th election included in the document be omitted.  She contended that “only the official business be included in the minutes for publication in the newsletter, and I don’t think that the audience participation is part of the official business so I would suggest that that be omitted.”

Village Manager Mark Honeysett indicated the election results were not in the last newsletter “because of an oversight on our part” and said, “I know that, at the last election, they were included in the minutes, but they’re not really part of the meeting minutes so I don’t know that it’s necessary or appropriate that they be there.”

Trustee Bob Brewer objected to the proposed omission.  He said, “I guess I have a problem with that.  I hear a lot of times people in town here see this newsletter and they think they’re missing a lot of information and, if we’re going to eliminate the newsletter, we should post the regular minutes so that they can get a complete rundown of what was done at the meetings.”

Weiss said, “That’s available at the village office” and indicated that past council action established the practice of creating abbreviated minutes for the newsletter.  She said, “We were trying to save money in the newsletter” and the council action “a couple years ago” was intended to “free up space in the newsletter” because it was getting to be a “very lengthy report.”

Donna Strawser commented on the ‘newsletter minutes’ issue in remarks during the ‘audience participation’ portion of Monday’s meeting.

In the end, the council voted 6-to-1 to approve the newsletter minutes as presented with Weiss casting the dissenting vote.

Donna Strawser, just retired from the office of village treasurer, weighed in on the minutes issue during the ‘audience participation’ portion of the meeting that came immediately after the vote.  She said, “I’d like to echo a little bit of what Mr. Brewer said.  In going about town, and seeing about the petition for election of the clerk and the treasurer to put on the ballot, I have talked to many, many people and they are saying, ‘We don’t get much news of what’s going on at the council,’ and I don’t know.  For 21 years, I saw three managers, lots of council people and I don’t think you should fear saying what’s going on in the council.  I think you should be very open and above board and let the people know what you’re doing here and then that would take away whatever stigma or something about trying to put something under the rug.  I think that you’re brave enough people to say what you mean, to do what you think is right, and not be afraid to let the people know what you’re doing.  Thank you.”

To hear the council discussion and action regarding the ‘newsletter minutes’ issue – and the comments on the subject by Donna Strawser – click here (5:29 – 5.02 MB).

In other business, the council:

  • appointed Jamie Judsen, Greg Hoover and Dr. John Schroer to serve on Constantine’s Downtown Development Authority
  • adopted a council meeting schedule for 2013 that will have the council holding its regular meetings on the first and third Monday each month except for April 1, September 2 and December 2
  • adopted a resolution as a ‘notice of intent’ to seek a Downtown Infrastructure Grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to improve the public parking lot on the east side of South Washington Street
  • and agreed to seek bids for replacement of ‘underdrains’ on all four filters at the village’s water treatment plant.

One Comment

  1. Reconstituted? Perhaps more like Freshly Squeezed

    Cutting out the comments from Citizens from audience participation from the meeting minutes? Gutsy move from a mayor that got beat once by one sister in one election and just barely beat the other one last month.

    ……”She contended that “only the official business be included in the minutes for publication in the newsletter, and I don’t think that the audience participation is part of the official business so I would suggest that that be omitted.”….”That’s available at the village office” and indicated that past council action established the practice of creating abbreviated minutes for the newsletter……..”

    Which past Council would that be that she’s referring to that brought us the past practice of abbreviated minutes? Would that be the Councils of the 70′s and 80′s that I remember years ago, life as a child in our village that brought anger and signs in peoples yards that said, Back Brewer– Axe Aynes and that whole scuttlebutt? I remember a time when I was a kid in our village that between the non-sense at City hall and the school board, people spray painted the words Payton Place over the village signs entering the village? Are we talking about that past Council?

    Oh, so the 70′s and 80′s too far back for relevance…., OK, let’s try the 90′s– Would it be the Council that once upon a time brought us the police dog (funded by who again…I just can’t seem to recall?)….and how’d that all turn out for some at our village hall in the end?

    Maybe she meant it to be the Council that had several members resign right before their recall election was about to take place. Would it be the Council in office during the time of a State Treasury Audit for (if memory serves me correctly) something like a disparity of $120k over a period of 16 years for sewer billing? Would it be the Council that brought us the sewer pipeline AFTER it told its voters they were voting for fixing their wastewater treatment plant and told us we were getting out of the sewer business and what a big cost savings it was (and nearly all of them since have left town).

    OK, so we don’t like the 90′s as an example– let’s go to the next century for some other reference points. Could she perhaps mean the Council that found a $38,000 “clerical error” on a parks project 48 hours before the Council had to vote sign off on the final spending of that project or lose hundreds of thousands of $$$$ in state grant reimbursements? Could she perhaps mean the Council that spent $1.3 million to build a sewer pipeline to Three Rivers as a “cost savings” only several years later to get hit with an 81% sewer rate hike and ask its citizens for another $1.7million to fix it? Or did she mean the Council that showed us a pretty 4 lane bypass that “we” so desperately needed, that later someone tried to blow a 2 lane bypass with alot of our roads cul de sacked and us locals owning the maintenance of the current bridge over the st. joe?

    It’s tough to tell…..I mean with so many past Councils to choose from, I’m not sure which one she’s referring to that we should hold in such high regard to benchmark against for “past practice”

    I’m glad the rest of the Council got this one right. Striking audience comment from the meeting minutes Audience Participation is part of the village agenda and therefore should be reflected in the minutes–I think some of the reasons I listed above should help answer the question “why”. Believe me we will waste more in a half of a year than any perceived savings by making the newsletter smaller, although condensing the minutes will sure make bad decisions alot easier keep off the radar screens of us poor dumb citizens.

    We can’t have the minutes be selectively editorialized based on one’s particular viewpoint on an issue either, but I hope these minutes don’t become very sparse, ambiguous skeletonized descriptions that don’t really depict the goings on of those elected to serve us.

    We do need to be kept informed of the issues that can be discussed to the general public by law and hopefully the issue of keeping the clerk and treasurer as elected positions (rather than appointed) per the petitions the citizens signed will help preserve that…Instead of figuring out how to keep us at information deficit by abbreviating the minutes Madam Mayor, how’s about putting this issue at keeping our checks and balances that the petitions asked for at the forefront…….I would hope some of the reference points provided above outlining what does happen over a period of several decades in our village government would provide adequate reasons why we need those independent checks and balances….

    …and when you get over that, you might wanna ask about what’s going on with the bypass going in and all that traffic going over our precious sewer pipeline. You remember the highway traffic going too slow thru our town that has everyone that lives a hundred or so feet away from it in our downtown and having all their cement foundations rattle, shake and crumble to the ground. Ask what happens when you speed that semi traffic up to full highway speed go rumbling just a few feet over the top of OUR cement lined sewer pipeline to TR…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>