By KEVIN NEVERS
The Chesterton Utility has an interim superintendent, at
least for the moment.
At a special meeting on Thursday, the Utility Service Board
voted 4-0 to appoint Town Engineer Mark O’Dell as interim superintendent, in
place of outgoing superintendent Steve Yagelski, whose last day in the
position is today. Member Jim Raffin was not in attendance.
On Jan. 27 Yagelski notified the Service Board of his
resignation and indicated that he has accepted a position with another
The appointment of O’Dell did occasion a discussion.
President Larry Brandt appeared not to think it necessary and suggested that
the three separate divisions of the Utility—Collections head by Supervisor
Jason Ihler, Operations by Chief Operator Dick Condon, and Administration by
Administrative Assistant Jodi Elliott—could pretty well run by themselves
until a new and permanent superintendent is hired.
Members John Schnadenberg and Scot McCord, on the other hand,
pointed to an official chain of command for use in emergencies, approved by
the Service Board at its January meeting, which specifically sites O’Dell as
the go-to man when the superintendent is unavailable. “I think it’s a simple
as following our chain of command,” Schnadenberg said.
Brandt, however, disagreed, on the ground that the chain of
command is “not applicable” in this case, as it was promulgated for
emergencies. “Now we’re talking daily operation,” he said.
“I think the chain of command does come into play,”
Schnadenberg replied, “in the absence of a superintendent.”
“I think (O’Dell) needs to be involved,” McCord said for his
part. “With (Yagelski) leaving, we need a face out there.”
But Brandt persisted, citing O’Dell’s other responsibilities.
“I don’t see him being responsible for handling staff meetings, IDEM
reports, preparing for board meetings,” he said.
Then Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson cut the Gordian
knot. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requires the
Utility to have a designated, official signatory, and the Service Board
really must appoint someone. It could be O’Dell, he said, it could even be
Brandt, but there must be a formal responsible authority.
The Service Board accordingly voted to appoint O’Dell.
Meanwhile, Brandt indicated that he would be speaking with
Leann McCrum of the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center—who
assisted the Town Council in the recruitment of a new town manager—about
beginning the process of hiring a new superintendent. As part of that
process the Service Board will hold a special meting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday,
Feb. 10, at the wastewater treatment plant to discuss the preparation of a
The Service Board also voted 4-0 formally to accept