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January 6, 2014

Clarksville Council re-elects president

Polston’s re-election meets resistance, is ratified on 4-3 vote

CLARKSVILLE — A new year means new beginnings, unless you’re a member of the Clarksville Town Council.

For the second straight year, council member Bob Polston will serve as the council’s president. Last year, the vote to make Polston president was unanimous. This year, Polston was made president by a 4-3 vote.

“I’ll serve the town of Clarksville the best I can,” Polston said, “whether I get four votes or seven.”

Polston voted for himself, as did Democrats Bob Popp, Don Tetley and Paul Kraft, who nominated Polston for the post. Kraft was made vice president of the council on a subsequent, unanimous vote.

Polston’s reelection came as a surprise to Democrat Councilman John Gilkey, who nominated Republican Paul Fetter to take the reins in 2014.

“I am [surprised] because when this board came into office, our expressed intent at that time was that the presidency would rotate each year among the various members of the council,” Gilkey said. “It wouldn’t be one councilperson for the entirety of the four-year term; we would draw upon the differing expertise of the different council members during that four-year term.”

Fetter and Hauber each had similar recollections of an arrangement between the four first-term members of the council. Polston had already left the council chambers when Gilkey mentioned the arrangement and was not immediately available to comment on it.

“We originally had talked, when we first were all elected, that we would spend one year each as president. It was just an agreement that we had,” Fetter said. “That’s what we were trying to follow, the tradition. I guess the rest of the council didn’t feel that way after the second (vote).”

Polston’s reelection to the council presidency wasn’t the only surprise of the Monday reorganization meeting. Nancy Kraft will represent Clarksville as the Democratic Party appointment to the board of managers of the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau, but her Republican counterpart for the next two years will be Cynthia Knopp, who replaces Tony Singleton.

“Mr. Popp had mentioned that Tony Singleton ... didn’t want to be on the tourism bureau again, and that he wanted to nominate Cynthia Knopp as a Republican appointment,” Hauber said.

Hauber said he talked to Singleton prior to the meeting, and that wasn’t the case.

“We were told that this Republican woman would step up and serve by a Democrat,” Hauber said. “I don’t know. You can take that for what it’s worth, I guess.”

Popp had already left the council chambers when Hauber made his statement.

The vote for the tourism bureau appointments was 4-2-1, with Gilkey abstaining, as he is employed by the bureau. Fetter and Hauber voted against.

Knopp is the general manager at Derby Dinner Playhouse.

“The tourism bureau is normally supposed to have people who are involved in tourism, and that’s what she’s involved in,” Polston said.

When reached for comment, Singleton expressed disappointment in the move, and said he had been excited about the direction of the tourism bureau with the appointment of a new director. Singleton conceded that it could be possible that comments he made in the wake of the disbanding of the Clarksville Town Manager Search Committee might have factored into the decision.

All of the town’s department heads were reappointed for one-year terms. Most of them were reappointed by unanimous votes, save for one: Building Commissioner Ilpo Majuri was reappointed by a vote of 6-1, with Gilkey against.

“I just simply was not totally pleased with the job performance,” Gilkey explained. “It may or may not have been his fault, but there were some issues that I brought up to him that were resolved very slowly or never seemed to be resolved.”

Gilkey declined to be more specific.  


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