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Bricelyn mayor, councilman resign

By Staff | Apr 13, 2014

After a crowded public meeting which was halted multiple times, the Bricelyn City Council officially accepted mayor Arlen O’Brien’s and council member Mike Henning’s resignations.

According to Henning’s resignation letter dated March 19, he is stepping down because of health reasons.

O’Brien submitted his letter of resignation on March 19 as well, according to Bricelyn city clerk Kathy Lowery.

O’Brien’s letter states he can no longer fulfill his mayoral duties because of the increased demands at his current place of employment.

“Larry Burkhow is currently the acting mayor,” Lowery says. “With the election coming up in November, all four City Council seats will be up, along with the mayoral position.”

But, until the November elections, the City Council is looking for two temporary members.

According to Burkhow, there have been six applicants for the open City Council positions.

Council members agreed applicants should state specifically why they are interested in becoming a City Council member; the current applicants have merely said they are interested in the position, according to Lowery.

“We want to add people who have a wide range of different qualifications,” council member Vicky Wobbrock explains.

The public also voiced their concern of the process of selecting the two new council members because of the way Wobbrock was “suddenly” chosen.

Wobbrock provided a letter of interest in the vacant position created when Mary Jo Klingbeil resigned in December, 2013 and her letter of interest was the only one received, according to Lowery.

A motion was passed to add Wobbrock to the council and she took the oath of office at the Jan. 28, 2014, work meeting.

The council also discussed the consideration of payment to O’Brien and Henning for council meetings attended this year.

“I think we will just have them wait until the end of the year, like all of us,” Burkhow explains.

Council members are paid $750 per year and the mayor receives $1,200 per year.

According to Lowery, she is not sure if O’Brien’s pay will be prorated or not. “Before they hired me, Arlen took over city clerk responsibilities, including dealing with deposits,” Lowery says. “He put in a lot of extra work. I took over on Jan. 7 as the new Bricelyn city clerk.”

Near the end of the meeting, county commissioner Tom Warmka voiced his concern because of what he was hearing from the Bricelyn community.

Warmka has been representing the county for 14 years and has 30 years of experience in public service.

“It is an honor and a privilege when you are elected to an office,” Warmka says. “But that also comes with a lot of responsibility to represent the community and hold orderly meetings.”

There is no order, at the Bricelyn City Council meetings, according to Warmka. But he believes the council took a step in the right direction by hiring Lowery as the city clerk.

“I know all people want to contribute, but there is a time and place for it,” Warmka explains. “It’s called open comment or public input where people have the floor for three minutes and can say whatever they would like.”

Warmka believes if the City Council meetings are run correctly, then people will still get a chance to speak.

“There is an awful lot of interest in this room,” he says. “And I think the people deserve a council to be run properly. I think you can right the ship; you are going to have to.”

Warmka also brought up the possibility of the city losing aid provided by the state if things don’t get better.

“Losing state aid money would be devastating to the community of Bricelyn,” Warmka adds.

According to Warmka, things “flat out need to change.”

“Bricelyn has kind of adopted me,” he says. “I come to a lot of functions in the city and I feel like this is my second home town. I hate to see it run like this.”