Prior to the resignations submitted by council members Bob Michalson and Robin Holcomb, the Stevensville Town Council had been considering Mr. Michalson’s conduct as well as the town’s policies concerning council member conduct which were adopted following Michalson’s previous resignation. They contemplated removing him from office, or censuring him and removing him from the presidency. At their most recent meeting, following his resignation on November 5th, the two remaining council members decided to drop the issue.
“I did forgive Mr. Michalson for his conduct towards myself,” said Council member Dempsey Vick, “However, the conduct towards the citizens of this town and the conduct towards the employees of this town was definitely uncalled for. If Michalson had not resigned, I do think that it would have been in the best interest of the Council to seek some sort of punishment.”
Council member Jaime Devlin said, “Everybody needs closure on this with the understanding that this has been going on in our government for decades and it is not allowed anymore. It is not OK to treat other people this way.” She apologized personally for the fact that that the behavior went on for so long “and that we weren’t able to reach a decision as a council…”
“But I think with the resignation that has been submitted that we can put this to rest with a very bold statement that it won’t be tolerated from anybody moving forward. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect… Now we have an opportunity to move forward and put that behind us and I hope that we do so,” said Devlin.
Mayor Brandon Dewey said he appreciated the sentiments shared by both Devlin and Vick. “As executive of the town, I look forward to the opportunity to turn the page on this and move into an era where this type of behavior, hopefully, isn’t exhibited by a council member and, if it is, we move swiftly to address it, so it doesn’t fester.”
Both council members declined to proceed with an analysis of the code of conduct policies as well, at least for the time being. Devlin said that she was hesitant to embark on any major policy changes with two empty seats on the council. Vick agreed, saying that they needed not only to get the two council seats filled but they also needed to give the new council members time to review the current code of conduct before they could begin discussing any potential changes. He speculated it could be around the second week of January.
It was agreed to wait for a full council before any sort of policy review is conducted.
State law gives the council only 30 days from the date the vacancies were created to fill the empty seats. That would give the council until December 5 to make the new appointments. Advertising for the positions on the council has already gone out and applications are due by November 18 at 5 p.m. The two existing council members will review the applications and set up interviews, if necessary, and potentially fill the seats on November 30th.
In other business, the council agreed to a request for an extension of the final filing deadline for the Phase 2 development at Twin Creeks Subdivision. The current filing deadline is set for January 15, 2021 and the developer was seeking to extend the deadline to January 15, 2022. A consultant for the developer from Professional Consultants Inc., Ron Ewart, told the council that there was a two-year extension granted for Phase 1 of the subdivision, but they only needed a one year extension for Phase 2 and were not asking to have the Phase 3 deadline extended.
The council approved an extension until January 16, 2022, because the 15th fell on a Sunday.
Mayor Dewey stated in his executive report that the town was still trying to get information from the County Public Health Department about the number of Covid-19 cases in Stevensville. He said the town administration has been trying to get information on the number of Covid-19 cases in town and has not been successful. He said the information is needed to make decisions as a community but that the county wasn’t sharing it.
The Stevensville Civic Club will still be hosting a Stevensville Country Christmas celebration this December 4, but instead of large groups caroling together there will be a parade of decorated vehicles around 6:30 in the evening. No sign-up is required for the car parade. The Stevensville Volunteer Fire Department will also be participating in the parade with decorated vehicles. Santa will also be attending.
Following the parade citizens can participate in a “parade of trees” as businesses in town will be provided a tree to decorate and prizes will be awarded for the best tree. The public will be the judge. If a business does not want a tree or perhaps does not want to be open, they can still participate by decorating a window. The window decorations will be judged by public vote as well and prizes will be awarded. Prizes will also be awarded for decorated yards. Applications for the contests are available at A2Z Personnel and the Bitterroot Star. The trees will be auctioned off online with proceeds benefitting the Stevensville Civic Club.