Heights council swears in new members, says goodbye to fire chief

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Photo by Bob Oliver
Twentieth District Court Judge David Turfe (left) swears in city council members Joseph Kosinski (second from left), Margaret Horvath, Bob Constan and Thomas Berry during the City Council meeting Dec. 10. All of the city officials elected in November were sworn in during the meeting, which was the last of 2013. The terms begin on Jan. 1.

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Change was in the air and on the agenda at the Dec. 10 City Council meeting, the last of 2013.

The meeting began with 20th District Court Judges Mark Plawecki and David Turfe swearing in the city officials elected in November and ended with outgoing Councilwoman Janet Badalow and Fire Chief Andrew Gurka saying goodbye to their co-workers and constituents.

Plawecki swore in Mayor Dan Paletko and City Treasurer John J. Riley while Turfe swore in City Clerk Walter J. Prusiewicz and the members of the council.
Beginning Jan. 1, Paletko will serve his third full term as mayor and Riley will serve his sixth term as treasurer.

Prusiewicz, who ran for city clerk unopposed, will serve a second term in office. He was appointed to the position in April 2011 and he was first elected in November 2011.

Re-elected council members Thomas Berry, Joseph Kosinski and Marge Horvath were sworn in along with returning Councilman Bob Constan, who previously served on the council before leaving in 2006 to serve as a state representative for the city.

After the swearing in and the regular agenda business was concluded, Badalow took time to thank her family and the voters of the city for electing her to three terms on the council.

“After 12 years, it’s kind of a shock to be leaving,” Badalow said. “I really appreciate the confidence that the voters of Dearborn Heights have shown in letting me sit on the council.”

Badalow, who has been on the council since 2001, ran against Paletko in the mayoral race but lost. She could not run for both mayor and a seat on the city council in the same election, so her seat was up for grabs in November.

“I’ve been proud to talk to people in the community and bring what they said back to the council,” Badalow said.

Only four of the seven council seats were on the November ballot. The other three will be filled in the November 2015 election, but Badalow has not commented on whether she will run for one of those seats.

It was also announced at the meeting that Gurka will be stepping down from his position as fire chief on Jan. 7 and will be succeeded by Fire Marshal David Brogan.

Gurka has been fire chief since 2005. Before that, he worked for the city as a fire inspector and fire marshal.

Paletko thanked Gurka for his efforts with the city and the Fire Department.

“I will personally miss the fire chief immensely,” Paletko said. “He’s not only a good department head, he’s a good friend and I think he did wonders for the city.”

Horvath and Police Chief Lee Gavin also took time to thank Gurka for his work with the city.

“You’ve been a great asset and a great fire chief and we appreciate everything that you’ve done for the city,” Horvath said.

Gavin said it had been an honor to work with Gurka and that “the citizens of Dearborn Heights have been really fortunate to have him leading their fire department.”

Gurka addressed the council and said it was a team effort that allowed him to do his job.

“I really appreciate all the help that I have received from other city employees, the mayor and other department heads as fire chief,” Gurka said. “We were able to accomplish a lot of goals and tasks together.”

He also thanked the community for its support of the Fire Department.

“Over the years I’ve seen many Good Samaritans come to the aide of their fellow man and neighbor and they’ve been a tremendous help to our department,” Gurka said.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a request from Gavin to purchase seven patrol vehicles, passed the 2013-14 water budget from auditor Plante Moran and re-appointed City Treasurer John Riley to the General Government Pension Committee and Central Wayne County Sanitation Authority Board.

The council next meets on Jan. 14.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)