The Village of Morrin will require a by-election after two councillors quit before the organizational council meeting Oct. 27. Pictured is Morrin’s Main Street. ECA Review/S.Salkeld

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Published Oct 29, 2021

If you are a resident of the Village of Morrin and you enjoy voting in elections, good news: you will get another chance to vote for village council in a by-election Dec. 13. 

At the regular meeting of council Oct. 27 it was reported the by-election was needed after two councillors-elect had resigned before they were sworn in.

The first order of business at the council meeting should have been the organizational meeting where councillors are sworn in, a mayor is selected and committee work is assigned. 

However, at the beginning of the organizational meeting which was chaired by village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner it was stated both Ken Balacko and Lynn Helton had resigned before the meeting.

Contacted by the ECA Review Oct. 29, Balacko confirmed he resigned before being sworn-in. “It was a tough decision to make,” said Balacko by phone.

Balacko stated he’s been dealing with a medical condition that’s gotten worse and forced him to resign from council.

Contacted by the ECA Review Oct. 29, Lynn Helton provided her Oct. 22 resignation letter which read, “I have been plagued with inappropriate social media posts by M’Liss about myself and my family since I put in my nomination papers. As well, hate mail resulted from her actions.

“Apparently, I have been elected. However, I am so unimportant that no one from the village office has notified me so that I will know it is official. Now I see on a Facebook post that M’Liss and Ken are planning ‘their’ strategy to take over the village. 

“I feel neither welcome nor wanted so I will stay home where I am appreciated and you can shove the whole village ‘where the sun don’t shine!’”

After swearing in the remaining councillor M’Liss Edwards, Plachner turned the chair over to Official Administrator (OA) Harold Johnsrude who stated two councillors resigning before they were sworn in isn’t a common occurrence. 

“This is a unique situation,” said Johnsrude. “At least, unique to Morrin.”

It was stated Johnsrude would remain in place as OA until a new council was elected and many committee appointments were re-assigned to Plachner until a new council is sworn in.

After more business in the organizational meeting was addressed and that meeting adjourned, Johnsrude called to order the regular meeting of council where the item of “by-election dates” was added to the agenda.

Plachner stated since there were two resignations from the three-person council, a by-election was needed to fill those seats. 

She stated the village has 90 days to conduct the by-election and plans to publicly advertise the by-election Nov. 3 and 10 with nomination day on Nov. 15 followed by election day Dec. 13.

The CAO also noted if only two people step forward for the two seats they’ll be acclaimed and an election won’t be necessary. Johnsrude moved and passed motions for the by-election.

Readers should note in the Oct. 18 municipal election the three council seats for the Village of Morrin were won by M’Liss Edwards (53 votes), Kenneth Balacko (49) and Lynn Helton (39). Former mayor Howard Helton received 26 votes.

Public Works report

Public Works Foreman Dave Benci provided his regular report to Johnsrude. 

Benci stated wiring had to be ordered to complete the security system work at the village office; the wire has arrived and should be completed by Oct. 29.

Benci reported on plans to flush the sewer system and added he’d been told of a company that can perform the service and also flush out calcium with all pipes remaining intact. 

The catch, he noted, is that the company charges $490 per hour for the service. He’s still investigating this option and it likely won’t be considered until 2022.

The foreman also discussed fire hydrant testing. Benci stated the testing revealed three isolation valves weren’t functioning properly and need to be replaced.

Request turned down

During her CAO’s report Plachner noted she had received a request from resident Howard Helton to speak to council as a delegation about sewer problems at his residence.

Plachner stated she turned down Helton’s request on the advice of the village’s lawyer as Helton had sent a letter to the village last July threatening legal action over the aforementioned sewer problem.

This item is reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review. See article HERE.

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