Bess calls for Rust, Larson to resign

By Kari Williams

Grantwood Village Building Commissioner Bob Bess called for the board’s newest trustees to resign their posts at the village’s tax-rate hearing last week.

Village Clerk Will Larson and Public Works Commissioner Walter Rust were elected to the board in April, ousting former Chairwoman Cathy Forand and former Village Clerk Pat Williams.

Bess told the Call he was prompted to call for the resignations after comments Rust made at the board’s last meeting regarding Kelso directing the village’s landscape company, Euphorbia Lawncare, to do work in the village.

“The meeting before (the tax-rate hearing) Walter Rust had a probably three-page statement where he just chastised our treasurer (Kevin Kelso) something terrible,” Bess said. “… So I thought Rust, you’re not doing your job. Will Larson’s not doing (his) job.”

Bess also said Larson has not bonded Kelso as treasurer, noting that Forand still is authorized to sign checks.

Bess said he asked Rust what he plans to do with the remaining $30,000 of the landscaping budget, saying that all Rust and Chairman Mark Kienstra have done is “gone around and spray painted slabs of concrete with arrows and zeros and X’s.”

Bess said neither Rust nor Larson disputed Bess’s comments.

“They didn’t have anything to say about any of it,” Bess said.

Rust has said at past meetings he is still learning.

However, Bess told the Call during his time as public works commissioner, he also did not know “anything about concrete.”

“We started mudjacking right away and stabilized the streets and spent more money than what was in the budget, but we had some extra money,” Bess told the Call. “And (we) did all of that and it turned out all right, and I don’t know why he can’t do that either. I’ve been there, done that.”

Rust told the Call his reaction to Bess’s request was that he will not resign.

“To me, it’s that simple,” Rust said. “(Bob Bess) said he wanted me to resign. He didn’t give specific reasons as to why he was calling for us (to resign).”

Rust said he believes he is doing his job and that Bess used “generalities” in his reasoning for the resignations.

Larson told the Call he was “surprised” by Bess’s actions.

“It wasn’t on the agenda,” Larson said. “It was kind of outside the scope of the meeting, and, frankly, it was really unwarranted.”

Larson said Bess did not give “any real examples” of why he asked for the resignations and said he intends to remain on the board and that the board still has “a lot of work to do.”

“I think the trustees just need to find a way to work together and really find a way to do what’s best for the village,” Larson said, “and we need to come together and everybody needs to do their share and stop all of the backbiting and infighting that’s going on.”

Kienstra did not respond to requests for comment.