By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — The Village of Boyceville has been without an attorney since February 1.
Cindy Swanepoel, village clerk-treasurer, reported at the Boyceville Village Board’s February 9 meeting that she had hand-delivered a letter to John Higley at his office in Menomonie, asking the attorney to reconsider and take the village back as a client.
Higley terminated his attorney-client relationship with the village over a personnel matter involving Boyceville police officer Jennifer Anderson.
According to the minutes from February 4 Finance, Planning and Personnel Committee meeting, “Correspondence from John Higley terminating our attorney-client relationship was discussed. We don’t have any attorney as of February 1. Discussion was had on what prompted his decision and it was learned he wasn’t told of the transactions taking place with police officer Jennifer Anderson and couldn’t work with us when he isn’t kept in the loop. (Village President Gilbert) Krueger stated he thought (retired Boyceville Police Chief Dan) Wellumson had discussed the matter with John Higley and that Higley was the one who suggested the attorney in Eau Claire that we hired. The committee decided to send a letter to Higley in that it was our mistake and plead that he return as our lawyer.”
“Do we have any chance to get him to change his mind?” asked Village Trustee Herb Dow at the February 9 meeting.
Swanepoel said when she dropped off the letter at Higley’s office, he was surprised to see her.
Higley said he would think about it, would discuss it with his partners and would get back to the village about it, she said.
Several village board members wondered how long it would take Higley to make a decision.
“I did not feel I was in a position to give him a timeline,” Swanepoel said.
During her discussion with the attorney, Higley brought up a point Swanepoel said she had not considered.
If an issue has been going on for six months, and Higley has not been kept informed and a village board member calls and asks a question, Higley would be giving an opinion without having sufficient background, she said, adding that without sufficient background, “he is at liability.”
The village board can consider how to proceed after Higley has given his answer, Krueger said.
“We (should) involve him faster. We do not consult when we probably should,” Dow said.
Jo Palmer, village trustee, wondered what the village should do in the meantime.
“Tread water,” Krueger said.
The Boyceville Village Board has approved a job description for the police chief position.
Village board members tweaked the job description in several areas before approving it, including sections referring to janitorial duties, keeping the police department’s personnel records in the clerk’s office, and making sure someone is assigned to open the community center when there is a storm warning.
In the section dealing with janitorial duties, those duties should be defined, said Village Trustee John Hellmann.
“Janitorial duties” makes it sound as if the police chief is responsible for doing all of the cleaning, such as washing the floors and windows, Palmer said.
The village has a janitorial service to clean the police department, Swanepoel noted.
Several village board members suggested changing the wording to “general housekeeping duties” or “basic housekeeping duties” to reflect that the police chief is responsible for light cleaning duties, such as emptying garbage cans or picking up trash around the police department.
As for the personnel records, village board members agreed the police department’s personnel records should be kept in the village’s human resources office, which is the clerk’s office.
Village trustees also agreed it is vitally important to have someone be responsible for opening the community center when there is an active storm warning.
Either the police chief should be responsible, or the police chief should make a schedule and assign people to open the community center and then lock it again when the storm is past, they said.
The Boyceville Village Board unanimously approved the police chief’s job description with the changes that were discussed.
Krueger suggested the public safety committee research the possibility of electronic door locks that would automatically open the community center doors when the storm warning siren is activated.
In other business, the Boyceville Village Board:
• Learned from Don Rose, director of public works, that he is keeping a close eye on the water temperature and that the coldest he has found is just shy of 40 degrees Fahrenheit at the dead-end on Second Street. Rose also reported the deepest frost is 58 inches under Main Street. At this time last year, in what turned out to be the coldest winter since 1904-05, village residents were asked to keep their water running to help prevent the water mains and laterals from freezing.
• Approved purchasing for the clerk’s office two new computer towers, two new computer monitors, one printer and Microsoft 2013 software in the amount of $3,513. The new office equipment for the clerk’s office is a budgeted item.
• Denied a request from HighSpeedInternet.com to have a listing on the village’s website. Village board members agreed business listings on the village’s website should be limited to businesses located in Boyceville. “I cannot walk down the street and go into their office,” Krueger commented.