Walbridge councilman takes over as mayor
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 17 January 2013 10:47
WALBRIDGE - Council president Ed Kolanko has moved into the mayor's seat, and there are now two vacant council seats.
At Wednesday's meeting, the majority of council accepted the "forfeiture" of Mayor Dan Wilczynski's seat, due to too many missed meetings. Councilman Nathan Eikost voted "no."
Kolanko was sworn in as mayor, a seat he'll hold until at least the next general election in November.
First on the new mayor's agenda is meeting with the staff and village administrator, Kolanko said after the meeting.
"We'll let everybody breathe a little bit, open up lines of communication that have been closed for a while," he said.
Wilczynski quit this weekend after Solicitor Brian Ballenger told him there was an opinion supporting Kolanko's research that said elected officials must attend at least 60 percent of the meetings in any two-year period.
Councilman Pat Fox submitted his resignation on Monday, saying he no longer felt like he was part of the team.
With Kolanko moving into the mayor's seat, two council positions are open. Ballenger said council has 30 days to make the appointments, then it would fall to the mayor.
Jan Sawaya, who was elected council president, suggested waiting two weeks to gauge interest in the seats and accept letters of interest.
The town hall was packed on Wednesday, but only one resident commented on Wilczynski's departure.
Larry Boday said he was disappointed in council for "berating" Wilczynski who has served the village well for 10 years. He said most citizens were aware of his absenteeism due to his job and voted for him anyway.
"There are people in this town that voted for the mayor and are not happy with the situation," Boday said.
Kolanko cut him off, saying, "Tonight we are not going to bash Dan Wilczynski. We're not going to bash council."
Also addressing council was attorney Albin Bauer of Eastman and Smith, Toledo, representing Cecil Adkins, a village businessman and former councilman.
Bauer asked council to reconsider the change in speed limits on all village streets to 25 mph, which was made in September. He said there are ways to increase the speed limits, including designating parts of the village streets as "through highways."
The speed limit change was made after some village residents earlier last year approached the administration about increasing them.
The Walbridge solicitor met with an Ohio Department of Transportation representative who said that for the village to have 35 mph speed limits, there had to be more than a mile from a traffic control device to the village limits. It turns out there is not a mile between the lone blinking four-way stop in the village north and south down Main Street and east and west down Union Street. All the streets, including the ones that were at 35 mph, were put at 25 mph.
After the meeting, Kolanko said council has been working on this issue and he expects the speed limits will eventually be changed back to 35 mph, which he supports.
Bauer also said Adkins has concerns about Kenneth Frost holding both the police chief and village administrator positions. The village administrator is the only Walbridge official, Bauer said, who can spend up to $5,000 without council or mayoral approval.
"By my take, the position of village administrator and police chief, or fire chief, are incompatible. And when they're incompatible, they're not allowed to be held by the same person," Bauer said.
Kolanko said he doesn't believe there is a conflict.
"I do know our solicitor has reaffirmed it is acceptable and I have whole faith and confidence in Ken Frost doing both positions. And there are checks and balances in place. Council approves bills every month," he said.
Frost, who has been the full-time police chief since February 2011, was hired as part-time administrator in May after Ken Gilsdorf resigned.
Kolanko said Wednesday that Gilsdorf and Ron Liwo, a former councilman and village clerk-treasurer, have expressed interest in the vacant council seats.