Office Lady

By Bob Balgemann


POPLAR GROVE – Diana Dykstra is in her second year as Poplar Grove village administrator and as the saying goes, “so far, so good.”

She has received a glowing evaluation from Village President John Neitzel, and the three village board members who didn’t want to keep the first administrator, Mark Lynch, think his replacement is doing an excellent job.

President Neitzel said he thought Dykstra was “doing a fine job” and felt village board members thought the same.

“Diana is effecting positive change in the services provided to our residents by our entire staff,” he said. “Equally, she is implementing policy changes that the board has approved. These additional changes are improving accountability by village staff and the services provided.”

One component of improving the level of service, he said, is changing the village’s computer software program for utilities, finance, and other administrative functions. That will improve services, reporting and analytics within those areas, he added.

Additionally, he said Dykstra was “a great ambassador for the village, regionally, by actively participating in regional economic planning groups.”

She is a member of the board of directors of Growth Dimensions, the marketing arm of Boone County and its municipalities.

The president said he believed her involvement in such organizations would help spur economic development in Poplar Grove.

“We are trying to position our village as a desirable location for new commercial and light industrial opportunities,” he said. “This will be of benefit to all residents by expanding our tax base and lessening the tax burden on our residents.”

More transparency

Trustee Owen Costanza was one of the board members who voted against Lynch being retained for another year.

He said what he liked most about Administrator Dykstra was her transparency.

“She thinks everything should be in the open,” he said. “If you want something from her, just call and ask.”

“I’m completely confident with her in there,” he said. “She’s on top of things, follows the law and understands customer service. She knows she works for the public.”

He also liked the way the village “is being run more like a business.”

Another no vote came from Trustee Ron Quimby.

“She’s done a great job of re-engaging our village with the county board,” he said of Dykstra. “She has repaired a lot of things I think were broken; she has taken on tasks that needed to be done.”

Also, she has “reorganized a lot of things, so we’re on the right path for the future,” he said.

She helped bring a Dollar General store to the village, he said, and reconfigured the village’s annual budget so it was more understandable. On top of that, he said she continues working on policies, an employee manual and procedures, while making changes at village hall “to make us more efficient.”

Finally, he observed, “She’s a hard worker with a great personality.”

The third vote against retaining Lynch came from Trustee Jeff Goings, who could not be reached for comment.

How it happened

Changing to a village administrator form of government was advanced by Village President Bradley Rightnowar, after voters put him and three new trustees in office in 2009.

He subsequently left to take a job in Springfield, but the notion that the village needed a professional to run the day-to-day operations persisted and Lynch was hired in 2012.

However, he only lasted 1 1/2 years. He started looking for a new job after the board voted 4-3 on May 12, 2014, to keep him for another year. President Neitzel casting vote was the deciding factor.

Lynch then resigned June 30, giving 30 days’ notice, and left to be administrator of Whittier, Alaska.

There was some talk about returning to a mayor-strong board form of government. Ultimately, trustees agreed the village with a population of more than 5,000, as of the 2010 census, needed to be professionally and proceeded to find a replacement.

Dykstra rose to the top of 16 candidates and went to work Jan. 12, 2015. She came from nearby Darien Wis., where she was village administrator and also served as village clerk and village treasurer.

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