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Judy Spooner Viewpoint: Friendly wisecracks pervade Grey Cloud meetings

Grey Cloud Island Township Board Chair Dick Adams, in a serious vein, opened the November meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance as usual last week.

Then, silliness took over.

Since I first went there in the early 1970s, my favorite assignment has been covering the township. It's not a job for a rookie reporter since no one wears name tags and there are no name plates in front of the three board members, clerk or treasurer. Residents frequently comment from the audience. A first-time visitor might conclude they have a casual attitude toward holding a public meeting, but that's not true. It's a real democracy because everyone is heard.

They all know each other well and accept who they are, warts and all. Even when a certain resident comes to a meeting to ramble incoherently about an issue, board members listen with respect because he's their neighbor.

During a report on the 51st Halloween party in the town hall, John Waldo, in his third year as event organizer, noted that 100 people attended.

Retiring Town Clerk Rich Mullen said he grilled 88 hot dogs to go with food residents brought to the party, including a cheesecake. Town Board Member Pam Dupre said she got to take it home after the party. "That was a bad idea," she said of her dangerous indulgence of fat and sugar.

Adams announced that the next thing on the agenda was "new business." But Dupre asked why he left out "old business."

Planning Commission Chair Cliff Rodahl asked why commission reports were not on the agenda. "We didn't meet," he added.

Dupre compared her agenda to the one Adams had and it was different.

"I got it off the website," he said.

There was a mistake on that copy, said Elizabeth Bell, deputy clerk. While everyone discussed who made the mistake, Adams wadded up his agenda copy and lobbed it over Mullen's head toward the wastebasket. He missed.

"As a reminder," Rodahl said, "the planning commission didn't meet this month."

The only solemn moment was when Adams and Scott Leick were sworn in for four-year terms. Dean Hoyt was sworn in for his first four-year term.

With the retirement of Mullen at the end of the year, outgoing Town Board member Paul Schoenecker nominated Bell, and Dupre and Adams voted in favor.

Bell, who will fill out Mullen's remaining two years, said if she needed help she knows where to get it. Mullen lives next door to the Bells.

There were other light moments.

The company that rents the township its portable bathroom wants to empty it and store the "thunder hogan," as Mullen calls it, at the town hall this winter.

Board members and residents discussed if it could be used in the winter and, after some crude jokes and comments, decided it wouldn't be used.

If anybody did use it, it would be the job of the new clerk to clean it, Mullen said, teasing his neighbor.

"No one told me about that," Bell shot back.

"There's a lot of hidden duties in the clerk's" job, Adams said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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