Citizens, Mayor Speak Out on Potterville Investigation

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

The doors to Potterville City Hall opened temporarily Tuesday night for the first time in a week -- and citizens poured in to hear what the council has to say about the locked doors, a Michigan State Police criminal investigation and two employees suing the city.

"We completely understand your questions, concerns and frustrations of not knowing what's going on at this time," Mayor Julie Nelson said, reading from a statement. "We are also concerned and frustrated."

But Nelson said the city can't and won't say much more on the matter until that investigation and lawsuit are resolved. Citizens had plenty to say for themselves.

Because of the ongoing problems, "city business is not getting done," Charles Dreser noted.

Much of citizen comment focused on City Manager Timothy Sadowski.

"My biggest concern is that that man was in this building with those allegations made," one woman said at Tuesday's meeting. "If they're true, he should have been the one out the door."

The council and city attorney told residents Sadowski is now on paid leave.

That same manager placed city Treasurer Wanda Jean Darrow and Deputy Treasurer Donna Hannahs on paid leave after they took their concerns about problematic financial records to the state police. Darrow and Hannahs are suing the city.

(City Attorney Thomas Hitch says he doesn't know if the two will be able to go back to work when city hall reopens.)

The council went into closed session to discuss that suit later in Tuesday's meeting. Many citizens took the opportunity to walk across the street and down the block for a meeting with Denise LaFave Smith, the attorney representing those two employees suing the city.

"I think this being more relaxed and the council and the mayor not being president," LaFave Smith said. "They can speak among themselves and feel relatively safe doing that."

Back at City Hall, Hitch says the criminal investigation is ongoing.

"The whole plan is that the audit will be complete by the end of the week or the beginning of next week," he said.

That means it'll likely be days before the doors to Potterville City Hall reopen permanently.

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