Salted with Sharks

Alert Reader: Open Letter from Trustee Jenks to Trustee Holmes

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm
The Alert received the following by email December 15, 2013. Letters to the editor may be edited for length and minor typos/spelling issues. We welcome anyone’s input. Send letters to, subject line “Alert Reader.” Thanks for reading!
An Open Letter to Trustee Ken Holmes from Trustee Diane Jenks
To the voters of the Village of Elberta: I ask these questions of Mr. Ken Holmes after the November council meeting, where he stated he has file cabinets full of information going back 57 years that he would get for us if we wanted. I bring these questions to the community because we need to decide what we want as a community. If the residents of this village are happy with the way things are going I will resign my seat at council and back off. I feel we have 3 choices 1. keep things on the track as they are going. 2. un-incorporate and see if anyone wants to adopt a village with a $500,+ deficit. or 3. get involved and move forward. I welcome input from anyone in OUR community. you can email me at or send mail to PO Box 61. I ran for office because I truly believe if you want to live in a better place you have to make it a better place. We are hear to be a voice of the people but can only do that if we hear your voice. I thank all those who have worked hard and been involved and welcome those who are willing to step up and be involved. Sincerely, Diane Jenks, Village Trustee
Mr. Holmes:

I have a few questions for you to pull out of your file cabinet of 57 yrs. You continue to make suggestions at meetings that pertain to certain council members and don’t name us. I would like you to go into your file cabinet and pull this information for me please.

1. When did the village decide the treasurer and clerk needed 64 hours a week to do the job most communities this size do in 20 hours?

2. What council made the decision that 32 hours a week qualified the office for full time benefits instead of the 40 the garage has to work?

3. What council made the decision that full insurance, 11 1 /2 paid holidays, a month’ s paid vacation and 6 sick days was a good idea for an economically challenged village? Maybe the sick days gives the month?

4. What was the basis for the decision that the clerk and treasurer set their vacation days, hours they work, and overtime?

5. How many dollars has the village spent on insurance for the village president when he was already insured through the teachers union, until he qualified for Medicare? Why did the treasurer require the village to pay high premiums when they could have paid for her to be on her husband’s insurance? Why did the clerk cost so much to insure when she was on Medicare? Is this how the office saved the village thousands of dollars in the last 18 years?

6. How many times did the husbands on council vote on financial decisions that included their wives and money in their household?

7. If there is indeed a policy and procedure manual Mr. Holmes why are you the only one that seems to have one? Would you look and tell me does it have a conflict of interest policy?

8. If there is no conflict and the president has the village’s best interest at heart why would you support him voting no on the 20% contribution towards health care for employees?

9. What other information or manuals do you have that the rest of the council does not? By-laws in there somewhere?

10. Was there ever a bid process for insurance packages in the past or to hire auditors? Who chose the companies the village uses and does it come up for bid at budget time?

11. Were you aware Mr. Holmes that the village has failed deficit elimination plans and council was not notified or copied on those letters? Did the quarterly reports that did not get filed cost the village tax revenue?

12. Who made the decision for the village to purchase Blue Stone Catering equipment?

13. Is there a policy in your manual that says it is ok for the village president to call a special meeting for the appointment of a temporary clerk one week before a council meeting and no special meeting or utilization of that meeting to talk about the deficit elimination plan?

14. When was the decision made that Gilmore township clerk and treasurer (same as village clerk and treasurer) be allowed to utilize the village office for another outside job? Is that even legal? Look at your Gilmore tax bill and see what is posted for office hours. Where do you buy your burial plots?

15. Who gave the authority for the office staff and some council members or their families to use the village dumpster when everyone else in the village has to pay for trash pick up?

16. How many attorney fees has the village had to endure because of your statements and the clerk’s mistakes?

  1. Whoa! LOVE #13….

  2. Diane: got another question you can ask too–who gave the DPW permission to use the Village plow (small truck) to do private plowing? he doesn’t pay for the fuel out of his pocket. last year he was seen plowing out a driveway on River Road in Benzonia. if you have a questions feel free to call Charlie and talk to him about it. number is 616-935-7196.

  3. In these uncertain times, we need to be realistic. I don’t care how full your file cabinet is if you are unwilling or unable to open it. That being said, we need to look ahead of us and quit mourning the past. Let’s implement cost cuts NOW. I am perplexed with K. Holmes cost saving measure of purchasing a used fire truck from CA. Maybe he thinks the State of MI intervention is a joke. Reggie Manville went on the record to claim he is on the council to represent the Village of Elberta workers. This obviously included his wife, but excluded Cory, whom he had just passed a (failed) motion to lay off permanently. Joyce G. can’t figure out why there is not a for sale sign in front of the old library. Maybe Ken Holmes can look into his file cabinet and refresh his memory. OOPS! I REMEMBER! Joyce and Ken are the municipal building committee! Other council members made suggestions backed by research. Let’s sweep that under the rug. We know where Ken will put it.

  4. why don’t the Elberta citizens removed the entire board and elect 5 new people? first rule–no one is related to each other or to the ones who work for the Village. means no ex’s either. sorry to say, I agree there should be a age limit on the people who runs for the board.

  5. These are all great questions that should be answered and issues that the community should be aware of. The deficit, where/when it started and what is contributing to it in addition to why a council of intelligent people are unable to quit bickering and make some progress should also be addressed. Understanding how we got into this situation is important so we don’t repeat history. It may also be a starting point for correcting the problem. I certainly don’t want the voices of Diane, Linda and Jennifer to go unheard. Change needs to happen. We say it, the council bickers over it, we write letters about it, certain people claim to know why or how to fix it but no one does anything except talk. Please, village council, do the job we pay and elected you all to do.


  7. Diane, please don’t quit. I know it is frustrating but if we lose you, Linda, or Jen, we will lose any hope of resolving these issues. You gals are on the right side, and you are now asking the tough questions. We (the residents of Elberta) need to pack the meeting Thursday 7 p.m. and let Reggie answer to everyone why nothing has been done in a months time. Hang in there 🙂

  8. Thank you Diane for asking the questions everyone else has on their minds. Please know that you, Linda and Jen are supported as trustees on the council. As business and property owners in the village, Rob and I support anything the village council needs to do to get control of this situation and come up with a plan to move forward in a fiscally responsible way. The village cannot continue to spend money it does not have in the bank. Diane, I urge you to continue to be the voice of reason on the village council.

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