Hart Township Clerk Tim Tariske, who is under scrutiny by the board for receiving a salary advance in the amount of $3,500 in early August, was asked to resign by two different audience members at the Sept. 11 regular township meeting.

During the first public comments portion of the meeting, Shelby Township Richard Raffaelli resident said, “I would like to note that the minutes from the last meeting don’t reflect my comments. I specifically called for Mr. Tariske’s resignation at the last meeting, and it is not recorded anywhere in the minutes. I ask that they be amended so that the public record reflects that.”

When the township considered the approval of bills and discussed an addition to the agenda about excluding Carol Tariske as the deputy clerk, Trustee Cal Moul asked if the wages and per diems line item were all lumped together. “Can we get an itemized list?” Clerk Tim Tariske said, “That amount includes all wages and salaries we pay to anyone.”

A letter from the township attorney had demanded that Tariske repay the advance by Aug. 13. Moul continued, “Are we obligated to pay the clerk if he owes money to the township?”

Trustee Dick Huntington said, “There’s supposed to be a pay back plan. We need a schedule so we know.”

Treasurer Todd Metzler, who issued the advance, said, “He’s paid a third of it back.”

“With this payment, half will be repaid,” said Tariske.

“No sense throwing good money after bad. I move we not pay any money to the clerk or deputy clerk until this is taken care of,” said Moul.

Huntington supported the motion. Metzler and McGhan voted in favor; Tariske voted no.

In regard to excluding Carol Tariske as deputy clerk, Huntington said, “I’m not doubting her honesty, but she’s in a difficult position. She could be pressured to do something she shouldn’t.”

Tariske replied, “She doesn’t have any signatory rights.”

During the second public comment portion of the meeting, Leo Steffens said, “I’d like to see the remaining funds paid by the end of this month and Mr. Tariske resign his position.” Raffaelli echoed that with, “This is a moral issue. Township money was used improperly. There is no trust. The whole event needs a public hearing and an audit of the books.”

Call to arms needed to improve road conditions

At the Sept. 11 Hart Township meeting, officials were asked if they could would contact the road commission and get help with township roads.

Steve Bruch brought information to the board regarding work done recently on Harrison Road by the Oceana County Road Commission. “They’ve cut down every tree and ditched the road in an effort to ‘fix things.’ What they did fixed none of the issues, and in fact, made the erosion worse. Water doesn’t even go into the ditches. It’s offensive to lose that beautiful canopy of trees and all we got was a bigger problem. They don’t plow the road, brine it or grade it. When I asked the drain commissioner to come out and give her opinion, she said that the road and surrounding area has actually gotten worse since the road commission got involved.”

Bruch also shared that the parking at the end of the road by the disc golf course is also an issue. Not only does the extra traffic tear up the road, but the signage is confusing. People are parking everywhere except where they are supposed to. This property is in the township therefore, he’d like to see this issue addressed by the township.

When Supervisor Jay McGhan gave his report, he presented an application survey the board needs to submit to the road commission for any work they would like done. This report is provided annually by townships so the road commission can prioritize and plan for projects.

“We have a list of road projects already prioritized and outlined through 2021,” Trustee Dick Huntington said.

“Is Baseline Road on your list?” asked an audience member, “The portion from 88th Ave to 96th is really bad.” Richard Raffailli said, “That road won’t last another winter.”

Sheriff Craig Mast, who was in attendance, passed out his report of his department’s activity in the township over the last year. Huntington asked, “What is the status on closing Water Road?”

Mast said, “I took a letter to the Oceana County Road Commission with my concerns about Water Road. It has been suggested that as sheriff I should close the road. I think that idea goes back to when Fred Korb was sheriff and he threatened to close US-31. He threatened that, but never did it. Closing a road is a major undertaking. The posted speed has been reduced to 35 mph which I feel is safe, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s safe. Traveling that road at 55-60 mph is not safe. Personally I’d like to see it turned to gravel and paved next year. I’ve asked Mr. Timmer to attend this as well as other township meetings to share information and answer questions, but he has chosen not to, for reasons I’ll let him explain.

Raffaelli said, “I think it is time to have a call to arms so to speak. It’s time for each township to write a letter to the road commission board specifically outlining their concerns. These letters would have to be read at a road commissioner meeting and become part of the public record. I think if enough entities did that, the board would have to take a look at the job our road commission director is doing.”