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Mike Sutter steps down from utility district board

 

LaGrange County Regional Utility District Board President Mike Sutter officially stepped down from his position Thursday evening at the end of a special work session.

The resignation took effect following an executive session held after the special session.

Sutter noted that, due to the interlocal agreement between the Town of Shipshewana and the utility district, “serving both parties raises not only legal questions, but more importantly the potential for such dual responsibilities being perceived as a ‘conflict of interest.’ Because I have a tremendous amount of respect for the integrity of both this organization and the Town of Shipshewana, I wouldn’t want these accusations to be leveled against either.”

Sutter thanked his fellow board members for the time they served together. “I have had the privilege to serve with members of this board who collectively provide unique and excellent leadership in delivering services to our customers. In many ways, it’s a thankless and much maligned job that is unjustly and unreasonably criticized far too often and with far too much vengeance,” Sutter said.

Sutter praised Operations Manager Don Skinner and Administrator Heidi Sisco and their staff. “As is the case in any organization, it’s the employees who make the organization successful,” Sutter stated. “I want to thank each and every employee of the district.”

Legal counsel John Gastineau was noted by Sutter for his “ability to provide this board and myself with valuable institutional thinking while giving the board straightforward legal advice. Only a person of John’s ability and integrity could make that available.”

Sutter also singled out Engineer Steve Henschen, who has helped design the district’s systems over the years. Sutter stated Henschen has “an understanding of funding sources and an ability to stay on top of contractors while delivering on time and cost effective projects. He is a total professional.”

Utility Board Vice President Ron Kantorak thanked Sutter for his leadership. “I know the last few years have been very tough. Your leadership has been instrumental in getting us through these times,” Kantorak said.

In other business during the special session:

The board approved looking into a customer survey to be done districtwide. A cost and recommendation will be made at a future meeting.

Board member Bob Murphy asked that Gastineau look at whether or not Murphy can continue to serve on the board after Jan. 1, 2013. Murphy is unopposed for a seat on the Lakeland School Board.

A mileage expense was approved for board members who are performing their duties. The issue came up as changes in state guidelines now require the district treasurer to approve each expense voucher in person throughout the month, which requires additional trips to the district office to perform that duty.