Blackberry Township names new supervisor
Fred Dornback, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the job of Blackberry Township supervisor, was appointed to the post Tuesday night.
Township trustees voted 3-1 to give him the job for the rest of the term, which ends in April 2017. Trustee Jim Feece had nominated himself for the position, and was the only one to vote against Dornback.
Former Supervisor Dennis Ryan quit in mid-February after 10 months in the position. He had disagreed with trustees on several matters, and they accused him of procrastinating on tasks.
Dornback, 74, ran as an independent against Ryan, a Republican. Ryan had been slated by a Republican caucus after the caucus' initial choice withdrew. Illinois Township Code calls for a replacement to belong to the same political party.
Dornback said he and trustees researched the matter and believe that as long as Dornback wasn't specifically affiliated with another party, it would be OK for him to serve. He also cast a Republican ballot in this month's primary, Dornback said, and has a receipt to prove so.
Dornback has moderated the township's annual meetings. He is also the superintendent of the township's cemetery, a paid position. Dornback said he will stop taking the cemetery salary and will volunteer his services for the cemetery until a replacement can be found.
"I need to focus right now on learning to be supervisor," he said.
Dornback had already started doing some of the job before his appointment, working on the township's budget with the highway commissioner, clerk and assessor. The township is converting from a calendar year budget to one that starts on April 1, to match the majority of other townships in Illinois, he said.
Dornback praised the cooperation among the elected officers in getting the budget done quickly. "I think that (cooperation) was a missing link," he said.
One of his first goals will be to secure a lease extension for McNair Field, so that a youth baseball league can continue to play their games this spring. Eventually, he would like to sign a multiyear lease for the field.
He also wants to find a field for youth soccer and football leagues to practice on. Ryan had viewed such efforts as inappropriate and tantamount to the township forming a park district without voter approval. Dornback, though, sees it as the township supporting youth programming. "So it is nothing new," he said.
Dornback said he also wants to start having low-cost programming for senior citizens, such as crafts or exercise classes.