Water, leadership irk Beaver Bay residentsFueled by anger over a series of water main breaks, more than 30 people showed up at last Thursday’s city council meeting in Beaver Bay to air grievances about the city administrator John McCurtain.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News Chronicle
Fueled by anger over a series of water main breaks, more than 30 people showed up at last Thursday’s city council meeting in Beaver Bay to air grievances about the city administrator John McCurtain.
The water situation was the last straw for many. More than 50 people in the city of 181, a group that now calls themselves the Concerned Citizens of Beaver Bay, signed a petition to ask that city administrator John McCurtain resign from his position or it be terminated.
The petition, along with a list of 27 questions petitioners want answered, was delivered to Mayor Mark Russell and city council members at the meeting. A portion of the cover letter on the list of questions reads “We believe the Council should either ask for (McCurtain’s) resignation or discharge him. Had the Mayor and Council done a proper background check, it should not have hired him.”
Some of the questions petitioners want answered include various hirings and firings since McCurtain took the job last year, including the circumstances around his own hiring.
Russell told the audience that he and the council “understand the petition,” but that it would not be put into public record, as advised by the city attorney, because some comments could be interpreted as libel. McCurtain did not give any comments to the audience regarding the petition. After Russell addressed the petition, the meeting was opened to public comment.
Resident Ellie Korpi was upset about the water main breaks and that new playground equipment the city received in July was yet to be installed. “I’m really sad for our town,” Korpi said. “Summer’s over and the town looks like hell.”
While comments were overwhelmingly against McCurtain and the impact residents feel he’s had on the city, others wanted to remind residents that he is not the only person working in city government.
“John McCurtain is an easy target,” Deb Russell said. “I think it’s cheap of us to blame John McCurtain when the buck stops with the council.”
Comments about dissatisfaction with the city eventually turned into a shouting match between residents.
Russell calmed the crowd. “I’m pretty sad,” he said. “I wish things were a lot different. I want the best for the city of Beaver Bay.” Russell told the audience once again that their list of questions would not be answered before he consulted the city attorney, who operates out of the Twin Cities area.
The meeting was adjourned after a 45-minute public comment period, leaving residents largely unsatisfied with the meeting.
Just before the meeting, McCurtain announced that the drinking water boil order had been lifted. The water tower project was expected to be completed this week.