Grantwood Village board elects Kelso chairman

By Kari Williams

Newly elected Grantwood Village Chairman Kevin Kelso told the Board of Trustees last week they do not have to get along, but they all have to do the duties they signed on to complete.

If trustees do not perform their duties, Kelso, who was nominated to serve as chairman by Trustee Bob Bess, said he will ask the prosecutor to start a quo warranto action, “which will have you removed from that office.” A quo warranto action is a legal proceeding that contests a public official’s ability to hold elective office.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch told the Call his office or the attorney general has to file a quo warranto action.

“(A quo warranto action) generally means they are holding office illegally or acting beyond their authority,” he said.

However, McCulloch said there are other actions city or village officials can pursue depending on the circumstances.

Kelso also said he wanted to “make it clear” that he knows what each trustee plans to do in the months ahead, which he said can start with the board’s May meeting.

“I want, in other words, an agenda of what you are going to do in the coming month so when we get to June’s meeting we can take a look back and say here’s what I said I was going to do and here’s what I did,” Kelso said.

Kelso said Bess checks the village every day “to see what’s going on” and former Chairman Mark Kienstra “burns vacation days (and) spends his time” in the village.

Village Clerk Will Larson, according to Kelso, needs to “return phone calls within 24 hours,” keep a log of phone calls for insurance purposes, send out the village newsletter “in a timely fashion,” update the village website and “research grants and report to the board.”

Larson, who did not attend the April 16 meeting, delivered a letter of resignation to the board before its meeting Saturday morning.

Kelso said he will oversee landscaping because that is under the chairman’s duties and asked Public Works commissioner Walter Rust to work with Kienstra on a construction project for Grant Road.

Kelso appointed Bess to his previous position of building commissioner, former chairman Kienstra as treasurer and trustees Rust and Larson to their previous posts of public works commissioner and village clerk, respectively.

Rust said he believes his “talents are not being utilized in the village accordingly” due the re-appointed as public works commissioner and feels there are “other people that are more qualified” to hold the position.

“I refer to the campaign literature that was sent out by the trustees that were just elected saying they have over 50 years of concrete and paving experience,” Rust said. “So let’s appoint an accountant to be a public works person who’s responsible for streets.”

Kelso, however, stuck by his appointment.

“Before you can just write checks out, you’ve got to gain some knowledge of these positions so you know what you’re paying for and what you’re doing …,” Kelso said. “Next year it’ll be different. One more year won’t hurt you to continue to be the public works director.”

Rust then questioned if he should expect Kienstra to be “doing things behind (his) back for a year.”

“For this past year, Mr. Kelso has done everything behind my back that he possibly could,” Rust said. “He’s given instructions to the landscaping people, he threw a contract on the table for a landscaping company knowing that I was putting bids out for landscaping work.”

While chairman, Kienstra asked Rust to prepare bid letters for concrete work at the board’s January meeting, according to Rust. Rust said he sent the letters Feb. 15.

“At the Feb. 19 meeting of the board, I came in here (and) there were already three envelopes back from contractors with bids,” Rust said. “Their postmark was dated Feb. 15, the exact date that I was mailing my letter out. I asked at the March meeting if anybody had sent out any communication to concrete companies. Mr. Kelso said he did.”

Kelso said he sent an email to Rust with the companies he was going to seek bids from and that Rush should not have sent bid packages to “those people who before you mailed those out knew those who I was getting bids from.”

“You would have done the village quite a good service if you had gotten bids from three others instead of the three bids that I got,” Kelso said.

However, Rust said he replied to Kelso’s email asking for additional companies and did not receive a response.