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New mayor in Hardwick to work with council on renewed goals

Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness

Willy Baker was sworn in as the new mayor of Hardwick Wednesday night, Jan. 9, in a ceremony that also returned a longtime Hardwick resident to the council.
Gordon “Sam” Hansen served on the council twice before, almost 20 and 30 years ago respectively. He was elected to a new four-year term in November.
“This city needs help,” he said after the meeting. “We now have a council to do it.”
Hansen joins Mayor Baker, Rich Hubbling, Lowell Schelhaas and Tom Haas, who was also re-elected to a four-year term on the council.
Haas was also re-affirmed as acting mayor at the council’s first meeting of the New Year.
Baker said he’ll continue several missions begun three years ago by the late Mayor Janyce Baustian to rid blight in the small town of about 200 residents, address the town’s aging infrastructure and renew community pride among its residents.
“I see in the council now a good group to get things done,” Baker said. “We have a really good core group and we are heading in the same direction.”
For several election cycles, Hardwick had no names on its ballots. Those people appointed to the council left by the next election.
Baker said lack of leadership continuity is reflected in the town’s infrastructure.
Baker said for the past two years he regularly attended council meetings and ran for the mayoral post in 2016 against Baustian.
Baker, his wife, Misty, and their daughter, Makayla, moved to Hardwick eight years ago.
Under Baustian’s term as mayor that began in 2014, she stressed the need for street repairs and was working on solutions at the time of her death in September 2017.
Baker ran unopposed for the two-year mayor seat, replacing Scott Edwards, who was the acting mayor at the time of Baustian’s death. Edwards didn’t seek re-election.
Baker was appointed to fill Edward’s council seat.
Baker, now mayor, said the city’s infrastructure needs have grown to include water and sewer lines, and Hansen added another issue at the Jan. 9 meeting, the wastewater lagoons.
Hansen said the ponds were constructed during his first term on the council and are past their engineered life expectancy.
“We need to have Verlyn (Van Batavia) come to a future meeting and discuss what needs to be done,” he said.
Van Batavia is the city’s wastewater superintendent.
In other business, the Hardwick council:
•accepted a $2,500 donation to the Hardwick Fire Department from Chandler Feed and Grain.
•approved a resolution to add $504 the property at 102 W. First St. for delinquent city services.
•agreed to move the next council meeting to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, from the regularly scheduled Feb. 13 date.

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