Council Asks Town Attorney for Legal Opinion of Mayor's Actions
July 19, 2023
Allegations of misconduct and ignoring the Town Council’s checks and balances were made towards Mayor Mary Janacaro-Hensleigh at the monthly Town Council meeting, held Monday, July 17 in the Town Hall chambers.
Two specific items were mentioned by Council President Roy McBride: the first being the new 4-way stop signs located at the intersection of First Street and A Street. The second, the mayor’s approval of employee time off for the Juneteenth holiday and July 3rd.
“First of all, I’m not sure but I think Ed [Guza, Town Attorney] needs to weigh in on this - the override of a policy concerning the budget. The PO was not approved for the 4-way stop signs and they were purchased anyway,” McBride said.
McBride then asked Guza to clarify the conversation he had with the Mayor, as the Mayor had told the Council it was within her right to put the signs up.
“The question posed to me had nothing to do with the actual payment of the signs - it had to do with the authority, Guza said.
Both McBride and Councilwoman Linda Jung agreed that no one was arguing the Mayor’s right to put the signs up, only the use of Town money when the PO for the purchase of the signs was not approved by the Council and the disapproval of the PO voiced by several of the Council members.
“That is one layer - the cost and payment is another issue that was not brought up to me,” Guza added.
“That’s a violation of our policy,” McBride said. “This was not done properly as far as the Council is concerned.”
In regard to employee time off for holidays, McBride stated that the Town’s policy was not followed, as only holidays approved by the State are given time off. McBride noted that the County and the State worked both Juneteenth and the third of July, and asked Guza to weigh in on this situation as well.
Guza said both matters would be looked into and his findings presented.
• The Poultry Ordinance was tabled, as another public meeting must be held as proceedings have carried over into a new quarter.
• The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Town and the Whitehall Saddle Club (WSC) was tabled as the town had not received an equipment list from the WSC yet.
• The Council tabled a discussion of whether to approve a $95,000 TIFF grant request for fiber internet by Telesystem Services.
• The Mayor noted that the town has had an alternate driver working to pick up garbage than usual on Mondays, and if garbage had been missed, to contact the Town Hall at 406-287-3972.
• Maxine Samuelson suggested the Council put together a better fireworks plan, specifically for Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. She suggested allowing the use of fireworks no more than two or three days before the holiday and one day after, with times no earlier than 6 PM and no later than midnight. She cited the anxiety it causes in pets, as well as those with heart issues and PTSD.
• Bridget Morse noted that adding lighting to the 4-way stop signs on First and A Street may help people see the signs better.
• Letters of disapproval of the 4-way stops, as well as allegations of abuse of power on the part of the Mayor, were read by the Whitehall Ledger at the request of the writers who could not attend the meeting - Terry Reed, Kathryn Shelton, and former Jefferson County Commissioner Sherry Cargill. (Reed and Cargill’s letters are published on page 2)
• Candace Ahlin voiced her disdain of the 4-way stop. “This is causing more problems than solving problems,” she said.
BUSINESS LICENSES APPROVED: Paramount Flooring, 2 Bit Whitehall, and Benny’s AirBnB
BUILDING PERMITS APPROVED: Hedegaard - fence permit at 501 Valley View Dr; Hellwig - fence permit at 10 E Viella; Jung - fence permit at 20 Rocky Mountain Dr; and Donat - new structure permit at 3 W Second.
• Zion Lutheran Church sidewalk project - approved $2,700.
• Rodney Wheeler sidewalk project - approved $2,000.
• Candace Ahlin approved to board.
Frontier Days Street closures include Main Street (from Legion to alley) July 28-29; Division Street (from Legion to alley) July 28-29; and D Street for parade setup from 10 AM to 11:30 AM on July 29. Entire park use for Frontier Days, as well as open container variance request, were approved for the Chamber as well.