By Tom Gilchrist
For The Advertiser
ARBELA TWP. — Arbela Township Supervisor Kenneth Panek didn’t persuade his fellow members of the Arbela Township Board of Trustees to approve a new telephone plan at the board’s Aug. 12 meeting. But a township resident called him out for his comments at the meeting.
“Ken, the professionalism at this meeting — snide comments about somebody’s kids calling them? That is totally, completely unacceptable,” Joann Helmbold told Panek after the supervisor traded remarks with Clerk Mary C. Warren and Treasurer Jody Hunt.
“I’m sorry about that,” Panek told Helmbold.
“You’re making us all look like fools out here — blooming idiots,” Helmbold added.
As the five-member board discussed the new “telecommunications service agreement” offered to the township by TDS, Warren accused Panek of not answering phone calls made to him at the township office.
Panek said the new agreement would be cheaper than the existing one and offer Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department officers — who have an office in the Arbela Township Center — their own phone line.
“We (already) have voicemail and we have a separate voicemail for the sheriff’s department,” Hunt noted.
“On the other hand, you tie up the phones with your kids all day long,” Panek told Hunt, who denied the allegation.
Panek stopped pursuing the new plan for phone and Internet service, saying he could tell the board wouldn’t approve the proposal.
There was more than one debate during the meeting. Trustee Wayne Schultz and township employee Deborah Cerasoli locked horns after Schultz questioned Cerasoli for billing the township on occasion for two hours of work to wash “mops and rags.”
“You wanna do ‘em?” Cerasoli asked Schultz. “I’d be more than happy to let you do ‘em.”
“I don’t understand what ‘mops and rags’ covers (on a timecard). Will you explain that to me?” Schultz said.
Cerasoli said she takes the mops and rags used by township workers to clean the Township Center, and washes them at home.
“I went through a Maytag washer in four years — a brand new one,” Cerasoli said. “So any time you wanna (wash them) for $12 (an hour), have at it.”
Schultz asked if the mops and rags need to be washed every week, and Cerasoli said they did, adding that the items “stink” after being used to clean the Township Center at 8935 Birch Run Road.
“Well, they probably do,” Schultz replied. “Throw them away.”
“The mopheads?” Cerasoli asked.
“For $5 apiece you can buy brand new ones,” Schultz said.
“You’re talking about saving money here. You go ahead,” Cerasoli said. “I’ll buy new ones every week, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me but it’s getting a little ridiculous as far as I’m concerned.”
Cerasoli said she is paid $11.65 an hour.
“You’re saying that there are two hours being spent (weekly) to wash mops,” Schultz said. “That would be, probably because of everything else, with your benefits, pushing $30 (weekly).”
A woman in the audience asked Schultz if he was adding in the cost of gasoline to travel to and from a store every week to buy mopheads.
“Are you figuring in gas mileage, too, for going back and forth?” the woman asked. “Because then we’re going to have to listen to people say ‘I saw so-and-so at Menards picking up a mophead and she took too long to walk to the register.’ We’re going to have to listen to that for an hour.”