By Bob Balgemann


POPLAR GROVE – The second village administrator, Diana Dykstra, already has received a public caution from a village board member.

But it wasn’t a negative kind of observation.

It came during Monday night’s regular board meeting after Trustee Don Bawden saw her first administrator’s report, which touched on 34 different issues. He urged her to pace herself so she didn’t get burned out.

“It’s not our intent to overwhelm you,” he said.

The former Darien, Wis. administrator-clerk-treasurer started here Jan. 12, with the Feb. 9 board meeting being her second.

Communication among village officials and with residents continues to be a priority. In her monthly report, Dykstra reported on updating the village’s web page. She said she found “there is a great demand for this form of communication.”

For example, the page had 7,137 views between Dec. 1, 2014, and Jan. 26, 2015. The events/activities page was viewed 844 times; officials and staff page, 525 times; local news (there is a link to the Belvidere Daily Republican), 412 times; village board agendas, 339 times; and village ordinances, 216 times.

Village staffing is an area of interest among at least three village trustees, given the fact there are three people supervising four employees.

Dykstra said she met the Office Manager Maureen Brzinski and her assistant about office operations, workflow, financial software, reporting and office supplies. “There is much more that I will have to learn about the processes and positions,” she said. “I would also like to eventually become trained as a back-up to staff operations.”

She met with Village Treasurer Maria Forrest on financial issues, with a goal of presenting “public budgetary information in (a) format that is more transparent.” They also discussed the capital improvements fund, the need for policy and inventory as recommended by the auditor.

There soon will be opportunity for that as the village currently is working on a 2015-16 budget for the new fiscal year, which will begin May 1.

A second public workshop on the new spending plan will be held at 8 a.m. Feb. 28 at village hall.

Economic development

Growth Dimensions, marketing arm of Boone County and its municipalities, has been told by county officials to focus more on retail growth. Dykstra said she met with the new executive director, Jarid Funderburg, to discuss “roles, expectations, development leads and networking.”

Poplar Grove is proposed to be part of an expanded enterprise zone, which would allow increased incentives to attract new business and industry. A decision by the state on that request could come as early as June.

Unhappiness has been expressed with the service being provided by the Belvidere Park District for Poplar Grove residents, south of Orth Road, who live within its boundaries.

Dykstra said she met with park district officials “to discuss opportunities, establish new relationships, look for improvements to parks, coordination of a park master plan and ability to provide Poplar Grove residents with more opportunities through their organization.”

District officials suggested a movie night be held in Poplar Grove. “We will hear more about this relationship as they look to purchase more park land and develop more opportunities in Poplar Grove,” she said.

A small group of village residents no longer is trying to deannex from the park district.

There were some resident contacts during the last month, she reported. One dealt with traffic back-up on Summit Street, which she said needs to be explored further. She also met with residents on their concerns following the recent snow events, most recently the storm that hit the weekend of Jan. 30.

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