Archived Story

Mayor names Russom board

Published 8:01am Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

Mayor Donald D. Lyons Monday night appointed City Manager Kevin Anderson, First Ward Councilwoman Lori Hunt and citizen James Benedix to represent Dowagiac’s interests on the new Russom Park Committee with Silver Creek Township.

Previous council action authorized formation of a panel to provide planning and oversight for the newly-acquired Russom Park on the corner of Yaw Street and Middle Crossing Road.

The committee will consist of six seats.

Silver Creek will also appoint three members.

“I can’t say I’m surprised nobody called me to even interview me for the Russom Field board because the mayor said many years ago I’m unfit for any board,” Howard Hall said, “but I’m concerned that all three of the people you appointed have a position with the city.”

Benedix, who sought the Second Ward council appointment which went to Jim Dodd, is vice president of the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival.

“You couldn’t find a normal person working 9 to 5?” Hall questioned. “So many people talk about how only friends of the council and mayor get appointed to boards. You just proved it here by not going out into the community and finding somebody. I knew you wouldn’t give it to me, so I’m not surprised by that. But you couldn’t find a resident with kids who’s not involved in the city somewhere? Then you wonder why everybody says you only get appointed to a board if you’re with the in clique.”

Hall also derided appointing the trio to open-ended terms as “lifetime appointments. I find that disturbing.”

“The intent of this committee,” Lyons said, “is to study proposed use for that site and to look at potential recreational opportunities that other areas in the county might have.
“The intention is that this committee at some point in the fairly near future in the next year or two will go away and be replaced by a permanent committee.

“Right now, it consists of just Silver Creek and Dowagiac. There may be an opportunity for other townships to come on board with that program. If so, that committee would be reformulated,” Lyons said.

“At this point, Silver Creek has three appointments, we have three appointments. They have a board member, township Supervisor (Bill Saunders)” and a lay member who works in a parks department in Elkhart, Ind.

“We felt it would be appropriate to do the same thing,” the mayor said. “Lori has had a strong interest in that recreational facility and will do a good job there. Mr. Anderson representing the city and the citizen make a good, balanced approach. That’s my recommendation,” which the council confirmed in separate votes upon presentation by Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin.

Lyons acknowledged that he nominated Benedix “largely on the recommendation of the interview board” who quizzed nine council candidates.

“I thought those people demonstrated an interest in this community and an interest in being involved. It was appropriate to take a member of that group, and I chose the one I thought best qualified,” the mayor stated.

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