By Carol Stiffler
Fifty minutes into the Tuesday, November 15 meeting of the Portage Township Board, Supervisor Don Reed announced he was done, and left the meeting.
His announcement came practically in the same breath as his sole vote against renewing the township’s propane contract with the Bowman Gas Company. Bowman’s bid was about 50 cents higher than another bid. With township propane use averaging 6,800 gallons, according to Reed, he couldn’t justify the added expense. Using a roll call vote, the other four board members voted to approve the bid. Reed cast his vote last, announced his resignation, and left.
Though his departure was a surprise, Reed said it came after a long period of personal and philosophical tensions within the Portage Township officers.
“The LP, that was kind of the last straw,” said Reed, who previously served for 15 years as the Seney Township supervisor. He spoke to the Newberry News on Thursday. “When I left, I was not a happy camper. I made the statement that they’d have my resignation on or before the next meeting.”
Whether he will truly resign is not yet settled. Reed has not submitted a letter of resignation, and said he will announce his decision at the December 13 board meeting. The December 13 board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Portage Township Community Building.
If he does resign, Portage Township Clerk Pat MacLachlan said the township will have to advertise the vacancy, and any Portage Township resident who is a registered voter can express interest in the seat.
“There would be a public interview of those people that are interested, and then the board votes and appoints someone,” MacLachlan said.
MacLachlan said she did not sense Reed’s departure coming, but acknowledged there have been heated exchanges and tense interactions at board meetings and in the township office, predominantly in the last 6-8 months.
After his departure, the meeting continued for another hour, with MacLachlan as chair.
Reed, who was at the helm when Portage Township voters approved a road bond and saw many township roads get paved, is very aware of the ongoing projects in the township. That includes revisiting the controversial 21-day trailer ordinance, and completing the required Audit of Minimum Assessing Requirements (AMAR) on properties with no record of assessment or inspection. Compliance is required by December 31, and Reed is overseeing the project.
“There’s been a bunch of evaluation of property over the years that haven’t been done,” Reed said. “That’s the biggest hangup to me for walking away: This AMAR inspection.”
Reed said has served on many boards, and had always managed to work through controversy because everyone had a common goal. His experience on the Portage Township Board is an exception.
“Maybe my job here is done,” Reed said.