SIDNEY –– The new era of Sidney town government – ushered in with three newly-appointed leaders – faced a setback Monday night, Feb. 10.
The town’s new clerk-treasurer, Etta Hurd, sat through her first town council meeting Monday night, Feb. 10, and then unexpectedly resigned.
Hurd and two new town council members – Sharon Rancourt and Gavin Parrett – were appointed separately by Republican and Democratic Party leaders in January after it came to light that at least two officials had either not been duly elected or appointed.
Hurd announced her resignation at the end of the meeting, saying it was based on personal issues that had just arisen in recent days.
“Things have changed with my family. Today, the news did not get any better,” Hurd told council members and a small group of town residents at the Sidney-Jackson Township building.
She said she could not dedicate the time needed by the town right now and that her resignation would be effective Tuesday, Feb. 11.
“I could go ahead and say in 30 days I’ll be stepping down, but that’s 30 days you could be getting the other person in line and trained. If I didn’t receive this news today, it would be different.”
She had assumed the role Jan. 23.
The move will require Republicans to conduct another caucus to replace Hurd and comes at a time when the town is still trying to transition from the previous clerk-treasurer, Lana Wolfe.
Hurd had been appointed in late January to replace Lana Wolfe who had returned to work for the town after being defeated in an election.
Wolfe returned to the role after the woman who defeated her resigned her role as clerk-treasurer. But Wolfe was never properly appointed.
Moments before Hurd announced her resignation, Town Council President Jack Wolfe, who is married to Lana Wolfe, issued a plea of sorts, asking the town to “go forward,” and “forget about the past.”
He also thanked Hurd, Rancourt and Parrett for “stepping up.”
Aside from the resignation, Monday’s meeting brought about numerous policy changes aimed at transparency and modernizing operations.
The biggest move of the night was an effort to hire a town attorney. The town had relied on an attorney from Columbia City, but he had apparently never attended council meetings and let the town know recently he was no longer interested in that role.
Acting on a recommendation from Rancourt, the town council agreed to work with the Warsaw law firm, Rockhill Pinnick, to provide legal services. Rancourt said her suggestion was based on previous work experience she was familiar with. It was unclear which attorney from the firm would be assigned to the town.
But Rockhill Pinnick attorney Rick Helm, in a letter to Rancourt, offered some basic – and apparently free – advice ahead of Monday’s meeting.
Helm urged the town to contact Accelerating Indiana Municipalities, a group in Indianapolis that works with municipalities in Indiana, that can provide assistance. He also suggested the town reach out to Silver Lake’s clerk-treasurer for assistance as Sidney’s clerk steps into the role.
Rockhill Pinnick offered services at a municipal rate, $225 per hour, plus mileage.
In other action, the council agreed to:
- Establish a post office box for the town in Pierceton so that paperwork is no longer mailed to the home of the clerk-treasurer. Cost is expected to be $46 per year.
- Purchase a cell phone for town business that would be held by the clerk and given to another town official when the clerk is on vacation.
- Purchase flash drives that can be used by the clerk to share town documents with council members.
- Heard a suggestion by Rancourt that they review several previous town audits from the Indiana State Board of Account to see if violations were properly addressed.
- Agreed to send out a letter to all town residents listing meeting times for town council and relevant town ordinances.