Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Nov. 13 newspaper on Page A1.
ZALESKI — A lot has changed in the village of Zaleski in the past few years.
The village has received a face-lift of sorts, and it’s now home to an antique shop.
The recent election brought a couple of additional expected changes to Zaleski’s village leadership. Incumbent mayor Craig Walkerow did not run for re-election. Candidate Michale Amerine received 51 votes on Nov. 5, while Jeremy Webb received 35 and Steve Schmucker received 11. Serving on Zaleski’s Village Council will be Barbara Deal (55 votes) and Susan Tripp (64 votes).
It wasn’t that long ago, too, when Zaleski’s village government saw a whirlwind of change. During the May 15, 2017 council meeting, the following people resigned: Mayor Annice Erickson, Council President Cathy Dixon and council member Jim Shively, Solicitor Sierra Meeks and Fiscal Officer/Clerk Nikki Harvey. Gone too were all three members of the Board of Public Affairs. Barb Deal and Letha Toops of the village’s park board also quit.
At that time, all who were left to lead the village government were Walkerow, Carl Webb, Jeremy Webb and Steve Schmucker. Now the council consists of Linda Bartoe, Jeremy Webb, Carolyn Doherty (her husband Ed, who also served on council, passed away recently), Schmucker and his wife Carla Pease.
Terms set to expire at the end of 2019, other than Walkerow’s, are Doherty’s and Schmucker’s.
Doherty, Walkerow and Pease pointed to multiple beautification efforts in the Village of Zaleski.
This year, a visitor’s center was added to the village. Walkerow noted it was a clever way to cover the unsightly village square. The center includes maps, brochures and even a Ski pop machine.
“I can’t think of another town that had a square like that,” Walkerow said. “It was terrible. I brought it up at a council meeting, ‘When you come to our town, that’s the first thing you hit, that square.’”
Walkerow noted the information center is already well-used, with people stopping at it every few hours.
“Our village is the gateway to tourism in the county, so it’s important that it looks nice,” he said.
Other beautification efforts include re-paved sidewalks and the installation of new benches and flower pots. Zaleski also recently saw the addition of a new Little Free Library, located right next to the village’s blessing box near the town hall.
Walkerow stated these projects were funded in-house and through donations from area businesses; the village of Zaleski did not receive grants for these projects.
Well, street lights in the village were covered by a levy that passed — by one vote, no less — on last year’s ballot. Walkerow said reports of theft in the village have decreased as a result.
Looking ahead, Pease, Doherty and Walkerow noted new leadership will have to address issues that come with the village’s central sewage system.
“They’re going to have to look into how to reduce costs more,” Walkerow said. “Nobody wants to see their water and sewage bill go up anymore. There’s not a lot of property in town to divide the cost over.”
Pease estimated the average water bill for a Zaleski resident is between $60-80.
Pease, Doherty and Walkerow hope to see a gas station of dollar store in their village, and they all believe the village is on the right track for that to happen.
“It’s come quite a way,” Walkerow said. “This was a great council; it was positive and wanted to get things done.”