Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saugatuck Township: Four board members say goodbye

Outgoing Saugatuck Township Treasurer Pat Knikelbine talks about her 21 years of service with the township at her last board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Saugatuck Township board members have been yelled at, threatened with bomb scares, named in a lawsuit, called crooks and back-room dealers, but on Wednesday night, the meeting hall was filled with hugs and tears as four of the five board members finished their last meeting.

Jane Wright, Chris Roerig, Jim Hanson and Pat Knikelbine — a total of almost 60 years combined experience — decided not to run for re-election. Supervisor Bill Wester was re-elected Tuesday.

Saugatuck Township Trustee Chris Roerig listens quietly as his wife Linda talks about his 12 years on the board at the Wednesday, Nov. 7., board meeting — his last as a trustee. In the background is Clerk Jane Wright. Roerig and Wright did not run for re-election.
Roerig sat quietly with his head down as his wife Linda told the board the  challenges of serving on the township board. Chris has served on the board for 12 years and 4 years on the parks commission.

“I’ve shared him with the township these many years,” Linda said. “He worked long hours — there was more than one sleepless night.”

He was always patient with the public, Linda said, “more patient than I would be.”

He did what he felt was right for the township and is helping leave the municipality in a strong fiscal condition.

“I’m so proud of his service and so grateful for his contributions to this township,” she said with tears in her eyes.

State Rep. Bob Genetski and Treasurer Pat Knikelbine.

Knikelbine received a tribute for her 21 years with the township, including serving as treasurer, from state Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck. The proclamation was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. It reads in part:

“At a time in our history in which local officials face many challenges and changes, Pat Knikelbine has responded with energy and heartfelt concern for the citizens, businesses and institutions of Saugatuck Township. She has become a staple in this community over the years.”

Many residents pay their taxes in person so they can talk with Knikelbine, said township Manager Phil Quade.

Not running for election was a difficult decision, Knikelbine said, looking at her husband, Gus, in the audience. A bouquet of flowers from her daughter, Deb, rested on the table in front of her.

“It was really hard to make this decision. I love people, I truly love people,” she said. Once she knew that Lori Babinski was interested in running for the post, Knikelbine knew it was OK to leave — the township would be in good hands, she said.

“We hugged. I said I was going to retire,” Knikelbine said.

Babinski, who works in the township office, was elected Tuesday.

Wright and Hanson each served on the board for 12 years.

On Wednesday night, the board approved money to train the new clerk, Brad Rudich, starting today through Nov. 20. Both he and Wright will receive pay for their time.

“It’s important to start. There are lots and lots of details to work out,” said Quade. “The township is very fortunate that Pat and Janie have offered their full and complete cooperation unsparingly in the unusual transition of two key functional positions at the same time.”

“You got the keys,” Wright said to Rudich after the board approved the training time.

The Saugatuck Township board on Wednesday, Nov. 7. From left, Trustee Chris Roerig, Clerk Jane Wright, Treasurer Pat Knikelbine, Trustee Jim Hanson and Supervisor Bill Wester. Only Wester is returning to the board. The others did not run for re-election.

Deb Knikelbine hugs her mom, outgoing Saugatuck Township Treasurer Pat Knikelbine, at the Wednesday, Nov. 7, board meeting.

Pat Knikelbine, left, and her daughter Deb pose for a photo at Pat’s last meeting as township treasurer on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Pat Knikelbine, left, and her husband Gus pose for a photo at Pat’s last meeting as township treasurer on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

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