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Sparks fly in Caspian as new mayor takes over

CASPIAN—Decisions made by the Caspian City Board of Commissioners caused division and tension among the board and several members of the public at the board’s reorganizational meeting on Jan. 14.
    During the meeting, Mike Varney and Joe Varney, who both won election to the board in November, were sworn in as city commissioners, and Mike Varney was named mayor.
    Last year’s mayor, Tony Dallavalle, was nominated for the position by Commissioner Mark Stauber and Mike Varney was nominated by Commissioner Jody Menghini. Varney received three votes, while Dallavalle received two.
    Both Dallavalle and Joe Varney were nominated for mayor pro tem, and Joe Varney secured three votes to Dallavalle’s two.
    Mike Varney then appointed members to various city committees. He appointed himself and Menghini to the Caspian-Gaastra Fire Authority. During that time, many members of the public in attendance became upset with the choices that were made.
    Stauber asked why Mayor Varney removed him and former Commissioner Colleen Smetak from the Fire Authority when they both have four years left in their contract. Varney said he was not familiar with how the board appointment works and left them on the committees to fulfill their contracts.
     He appointed himself as police department representative, Joe Varney as chairman of the Community Center recreation committee, and Jean Ann Upperstrom as treasurer of the Community Center recreation committee.
    Stauber was appointed to the multi-purpose representative position in place of Menghini. Mayor Varney needed to fill a seat on the zoning board of appeals and the zoning board, but he did not appoint anyone to those positions.
    During discussion of the attorney and auditor positions, Menghini made a motion to put the attorney position out on bids. The motion was seconded and approved.
     Stauber suggested to Mayor Varney that the commission fill the vacancy while bids were being accepted so the board would have legal coverage. Mayor Varney notified the board and the public that for 2013 and a couple months in 2014, the city paid attorney fees totaling $30,000. He also said

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