Williamston City Council welcomes newest member, to fill vacant position next week

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While the Williamston City Council welcomed its newest member to its ranks — council member John Bisard — there is one spot still up for grabs.

And for at least the next two weeks, it’ll stay that way: Vacant.

As is procedure, the City Council met again Monday evening, as it’s wont to do every second and fourth Monday of the month. And as part of the agenda, the public servants interviewed the third and final applicant for the open spot, Paula Curtis.

Curtis brings a Williamston-heavy resume, as she said she’s been in the town for the past 55 years.

For about the last 35 years, too, she worked with the fire department. Her accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed, especially for Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Whelton.

“She’s been with the fire department when they were in that cruddy building they were in for a long time,” Whelton said. “She’s an amazing person, she runs that fire department.”

The Williamston City Council is pictured on Feb. 12, 2018, at the Williamston City Hall, located at 161 E Grand River Ave.

Curtis then stood at the podium for the brief interview, just a few questions directed her way, touching up on her past and then some.

“I just want to see if there’s any way I can help out the city and move things forward,” Curtis said during the Monday meeting. “I know there’s a lot things you guys have going on. I’ve been here a long time, and I just want to help.”

The other two applicants — Daniel Rhines and Stephen Bartig — had already been interviewed by the council. They both submitted their applications beforehand, hence the earlier evaluating period.

Rhines, however, was in attendance, as Mayor Tammy Gilroy pointed him out within the modest gathering. While he didn’t give a full-out interview, he did take one question from the City Council: What type of board positions Rhines has been in over the years.

“Worked on the jubilee committee for about the last eight years, bringing different events for that and what not,” Rhines said. “But other than that, I didn’t have time for anything like that.”

The open position on the City Council appeared when former council member Sean Bertolino resigned from his post. Bertolino cited personal reasons as to why he left his post.

“While I enjoy public service, and hope to return to a role along these lines at some point, I have had an increased business opportunity allowing me to better provide for my young family at this time and as always, value God, Family and then everything else in my life,” Bertolino’s statement to the City Council said. “All the best and please do not hesitate contacting me if I can be of any service to any of you.”

The Williamston City Council is pictured on Feb. 12, 2018, at the Williamston City Hall, located at 161 E Grand River Ave. The vacant City Council position is pictured with no placard and nobody in the seat.

The note Bertolino sent to the City Council was effective Jan. 17. And as required by the city charter, the City Council must appoint a new council member 60 days after the vacancy first occurs.

“We basically advertise to the community that we have an open City Council seat,” Gilroy said.

Thus, the timeline was created. The final day intrigued citizens could submit an application was on Feb. 7.

With Monday’s meeting being the last day to interview applicants, Curtis, Rhines and Bartig are the final standing for consideration. An official determination on who will become the newest council member will be decided during the Feb. 26 City Council meeting.

While the future is still up in the air for the trio of Curtis, Rhines and Bartig, the City Council welcomed a new member in Bisard.

“So far, so good,” Bisard said. “This is my first meeting. I’ve sat on the planning commission, I can’t even tell you how many years. I was asked by a former council member if I could step up and fill a seat.”

First official City Council meeting under his belt, Bisard saw a meeting that lasted just under an hour. And his term is off.

Though he did say there were thoughts of leaving Williamston and never returning back in the day.

“I grew up here,” Bisard said. “Went away to the Navy, just said I would never came back, but I came back because it’s home. It’s a sense of comfort, that’s why I came back.”

The Williamston City Council will make a final decision on who will fill the vacant position at the Feb. 26 meeting.

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