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Wahlen may soon be out as Mount Pleasant administrator

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MOUNT PLEASANT — Kurt Wahlen appears to be on his way out as Mount Pleasant village administrator. 

The Village Board has called a special meeting for Monday to discuss a separation agreement with Wahlen, whom the new board majority has generally opposed. 

The closed-session meeting is set for 7:30 a.m. at Village Hall, 8811 Campus Drive. Board members then may reconvene in open session to vote on matters discussed in closed session. 

Wahlen expects Monday will be his last day on the job. 

"Elections have consequences," Wahlen said when reached by phone Thursday. "That's what I'm facing here."

Power on the factional Mount Pleasant Village Board shifted after the April 5 election, with the new majority often at odds with the current administration. The most high-profile example is a controversial Highway V water and sewer project, which Wahlen helped bring to passage before the election.

Questions over Wahlen's job status were first raised June 3, when the board met for 90 minutes in closed session about his contract, which had expired three weeks earlier. 

Talks about extending the contract never materialized, Wahlen said. 

In another meeting, a fired employee took to a public forum to make a variety of claims about "questionable practices" under Wahlen, who denies the claims. 

It's been part of a turbulent period for the board after two incumbents were unseated in April, in a race driven by their support for the Highway V project. In recent weeks, the board has clashed over closed-session meetings, special assessments for water mains and grant funding for Pike River work. 

Wahlen, the former Racine police chief, began his tenure as Mount Pleasant village administrator in 2013.

"It's time for the village to move on, and if it means getting me out of the way, so be it," Wahlen said. 

Village Board members and Village President Jerry Garski could not be reached for comment Thursday. The village canceled its regularly scheduled Monday night meeting. 

Past turnover 

The village has had all sorts of problems keeping administrators, presidents, financial directors and clerks over the past decade. 

In February 2006, the Village Board fired Village Administrator Kevin O'Donnell, who had been town, then village, administrator for almost six years.

Village President Michael Andreasen, a former Mount Pleasant Town Board member, was hired as administrator in 2006. He was terminated in May 2011 under a cloud of allegations of harassment and abuse. He died of a heart attack in June 2011.

In September 2012, Village President Carolyn Milkie and then-interim Village Administrator Mark Morien both resigned on the same night, citing their inabilities to get board members to embrace change.

Milkie had served as village president for six years. She also was previously village president in Sturtevant.

The village has had four clerks since making the position a full-time staff position in 2010.

Juliet Edmands was the last elected village clerk. She applied for the staff position, but did not get it. Instead, the village hired Debra Salas in April 2011. Salas left the job in January 2012 to become Kenosha city clerk.

Veronica Rudychev was hired in 2012, but resigned in April 2013, citing harassment by board members. Stephanie Kohlhagen, the current village clerk, was hired in July 2013.

In August 2015, the village parted ways with Finance Director Terri Gayhart, whom the village hired in October 2013.

"Elections have consequences. That's what I'm facing here."

 — Mount Pleasant Village Administrator Kurt Wahlen


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