Class of 1991
Published: May 10, 2001
By PAUL DAQUILANTE Of the News-Register
AMITY - After Councilors Gene Lee, Janet Martin and John Yeadon were recalled in November, recently appointed Mayor Jim Anderson said he thought the thud heard throughout the community was city hall hitting rock bottom.
The city has one last hurdle to surmount. Unsuccessful mayoral candidate Tim Butterbaugh just announced his resignation from the council, saying he has moved out of the city for personal reasons.
However, with a new mayor, a pro tem city manager and a new council in place, Anderson believes the city is ready to move forward and bury its tumultuous recent past.
"I and the council have been given an opportunity to take a bad situation and turn everything around," he said. "We're going to start fresh, start rebuilding.
"I think we've started to give the people of this community some hope. We're starting over, but we're starting brand new with new people. It's an entirely different attitude and feeling. That is what I like about it."
Write-in candidates Wendy Hamilton and Kenneth Wood were elected to the council with Anderson in November. Gaylene Dover, Sharon Ingram and Karin Johnson were appointed last week.
The seat given up Tuesday by Butterbaugh, the only holdover from the old council, is the only one the city now has to fill. And Anderson hopes to have someone in place by the June 5 date of the council's next regular meeting.
The 28-year-old Anderson moved to Amity from Missoula, Mont., when he was in the eighth grade. He graduated from Amity High School in 1991.
He went to work in the city's public works department in September 1994, but was fired by then City Manager John Hitt in May 1999 for allowing the water treatment plant to function without an adequate source of chlorine injection. He now works in a similar capacity in Lafayette, which is also rebuilding following a divisive council recall and contentious manager departure.
Anderson was the only council candidate on the ballot in November. He landed the Lafayette job shortly before the election.
Anderson said there was a strained relationship between councilors and city employees under the regime swept out in the recall.
"The biggest reason I wanted to be on council is that I wanted to see a good working relationship between council members and city employees," he said.
Businessman Don Lehman was elected mayor on the strength of write-in votes in November, but he resigned less than three months later. He said he was investing far more of his own time than he could sustain, and without seeing the results he wanted.
"I saw some tension on the council and started thinking about the mayor's position," Anderson said. "I consider myself a neutral person. I get along with everyone on council."
Anderson was named mayor by unanimous vote of the council, supporting his contention.
"Even with a short council, we were starting to pull together and get things accomplished," he said. "We got the water bills on track. We started getting the final portion of the city moving forward.
"Since then, there has been a better relationship between the council and city employees. That's the biggest difference I have seen. The employees seem happy. I've seen significant changes in recent months."
Anderson said the really crucial piece of business lying ahead is choosing a new city manager. It is functioning smoothly with its interim manager, David Kinney, but he fills a similar role in Mill City and lives in Stayton.
Anderson said he wants to see that problem addressed by the end of the summer.
Hitt was Amity's first city manager. He resigned to become city manager in Lebanon at more than twice the pay.
The old council hired career city administrator Terry Bednarzyk of Yamhill to replace Hitt.
But less than three months later, it convened a special meeting and fired her.
It adamantly refused to provide any reason, angering many in the community. That included city employees, three of whom resigned in protest.
Lee, Martin and Yeadon were recalled from office as a result of a community-wide furor that developed in the wake of Bednarzyk's dismissal. They contested their removal, but lost in a landslide in an election marked by a surprisingly strong turnout.
Kinney is working 16 to 20 hours a week. He will remain on board at least until the 2001-02 budget process is completed.
The first budget committee meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 24 at city hall. Kinney will deliver the budget message and the committee will receive comment from the public on a proposed budget.
"The budget process is my No. 1 priority right now," Anderson said. "That process is moving along. Once we get into the fiscal year (July 1), then we can start getting some other things accomplished."
He said he thinks there is great value in having a city manager, and supports permanently filling the position.
He noted, however, "On the flip side, there are financial considerations. Can the city afford the salary?"
Hitt and Bednarzyk each were paid about $35,000 annually, in addition to their benefit packages. Kinney is working for $60 an hour.
"A chain of command is important to me, and I think a city manager completes that," Anderson said. "The city manager serves as a vital part."
Honoring Our Heroes
This area is dedicated to our alumni that have served or are serving in our armed forces!
Lost Class Rings
Have you lost your Amity High School class ring? Have you found someone's class ring? Visit our Warriors lost class ring page to search for your class ring or post information about a found ring.