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Town Hall and More Heated Exchanges at Village Meeting

The minutes from both the March 14 and March 28 Village of Grand Rapids Council meetings have been made available at Restoring town hall, suspicious people, tapping into Northwestern Water & Sewer, and community movies were brought up. Concern over professionalism during the council meetings was also presented.

Grand Rapids Town Hall’s condition has been discussed multiple times during the past few meetings and it appears as though action is being taken to prepare town hall for use by the community. Several businesses were contacted to get a quote on town hall structural maintenance. Two walkthrough inspections were conducted that found support issues near the garage doors, issues with the rise of the stairs, a lean in the southwest chimney, a wave in the ceiling, a railing that is too short for the balcony, and questions on the load of the balcony and stage. The minutes report that these are initial findings and council needs to approve funds and make a vendor selection to move forward.


David Fowler spoke about using town hall for this year’s Grand Rapids Family Movie night. Last year the family movies were held in the park next to town hall. Fowler would like to use town hall so movies could start earlier and so they would not have to worry about weather or mosquitos. Fowler said he would be willing to clean town hall after the movies and requested waiving the no food or drink policy. The first movie is set to show May 28.

Mayor John Berry mentioned multiple incidents of suspicious people going up to homes in and around the village. One incident occurred on the Providence side of the river where a suspicious person went up to a homeowner’s door and asked about items that were in their building. In another incident a person walked up to a house and asked the homeowner to give them a gun.

According to the minutes, there’s been talk about connecting the Grand Rapids waterline to the Northwestern Water District line. The cost is estimated to be $800,000. Council Person Lynn Sylvain asked about the benefits of connecting the lines. Interim Administrator Chad Beyer stated that if something breaks this would allow Northwestern Water to keep water flowing. In return, Grand Rapids would supply water if something happened in their area. According to Beyer, the EPA wants the village to have two sources of water.

There appeared to be tension once again in the March 28 meeting. Mayor John Berry sounded his gavel after council members Lynn Sylvain and Rachel Smith got in a heated exchange.

According to the minutes, Sylvain requested the village website to get revamped. Smith stated that the website was redesigned a year ago. Sylvain stated that the website is not very modern. Smith said the information on the site is accurate and stated that Sylvain could obtain three quotes. Sylvain then asked if she was expected to do everything.

According to the minutes Smith stated, “You bring up a lot of ideas but you don’t implement anything.”

The minutes then quotes Sylvain as saying, “You are full of shit.”

After hitting his gavel, the minutes report Mayor Berry said, “There’s no sense to talk like that.”

Later in the meeting Council Person Jody Donsbach expressed that she would like council to work together and maintain a sense of integrity that has been lost in the last few meetings. According to the minutes, she said she would like to get away from “I” statements and focus on “we” statements because, “we work together and we need to continue to do so.”

Quoting the minutes: “Donsbach stated some things that happened today were extremely unprofessional and she cannot reiterate that enough. Sylvain asked if that was an ‘I’ statement. Donsbach stated, ‘yes’ that was an ‘I’ statement but Sylvain is being unprofessional. Sylvain stated she is following the lead here.”

Sylvain went on to explain that she’s trying to bring multiple items up to date. She then made a motion to adjourn.

Quoting the minutes, “Smith said what you do is you have great ideas but you want everyone else to implement them for you. Smith stated you brought up the rules and regulations and then you came to the meeting and couldn’t bring us one example because you said it was up to us. Smith stated it was your proposal and you wanted to review it. If the rest of Council would have known what you were asking for, everyone would have come prepared. Sylvain stated look what she has submitted more than you guys have done. Smith stated because we are all just a bunch of oafs and don’t know any better, right? Sylvain stated if that is your position than she would make a motion to second that.
Mayor used his gavel.”

You can read the full minutes at

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