Help Wanted: Whiting Lacks Public Servants
Photo: Village of Whiting Trustee Bill Horvath told village leaders Tuesday night something must be done to encourage citizen involvement in local government. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
The Village of Whiting is having a tough time filling openings within municipal government.
Currently four spots are open on the Whiting Tree Board and one Board of Trustee seat is vacant. Two of the five seats on the village’s Public Works Committee are also available, forcing village leaders to consider the possibility of consolidating Public Works and Utilities Committees Tuesday night. Ultimately, the Board decided to keep the two separate for the sake of propriety.
“The Utilities Committee is, for lack of a better term, a rouge committee; it has its own money and doesn’t need authority from this Board for a lot of what it does,” said Trustee Sam Levin. “You can’t blend Public Works into that; that would make me nervous.”
Levin formally resigned from the Board Tuesday night, citing health reasons. He also said he is moving outside of Whiting, making him ineligible for village service.
Former Board Trustee Carol Lepak resigned earlier this year for undisclosed reasons; her spot on the Board was filled Tuesday by Richard Marquad, a Whiting resident who has served on the village’s Plan Commission for the past 5 years.
Last summer the village advertised an opening for a crossing guard at the corner of HH and School Street for $11/hour. No one applied to fill that spot, triggering Trustees are paid about $1600 per year.
“I still think there are a lot of peole in the village who don’t make the connection the Village Board because of the fact that they have limited contact with it,” said Trustee Bill Horvath. “Most people don’t get in contact with a Trustee or the Board until they get upset about something. “We need to make an appeal to residents they can serve in different ways; it may reacquaint people with how this village works a little bit.”
Horvath also said the village needed to get the word out on the village’s website and newsletter.
“We’ve always had vacancies over the past couple of years, and it’s always been in the newsletter,” said President Paul Stroik. “It’s been sent to everyone’s home; it’s been on the website. It’s been advertised in the (newspapers). But we can do it again, and just add to it.”
Sam Levin suggested a village gathering at Lower Whiting Park to engage residents.
“That’s the only way to get the word out, but in the end I think it would work,” Levin said.
Stroik said many residents have told him they don’t mind attending village meetings but are afraid of becoming a target if they apply for municipal service.
“They don’t want to become a target,” he said.
Village Trustees earn about $1600 each year. For more information on vacancies call 715-341-2742.