Metro-East News

All three Madison County levee board members to be replaced

Madison County Board member Helen Hawkins.
Madison County Board member Helen Hawkins.

Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said he wants his own “team” on the board of the Metro East Sanitary District and will nominate three appointees during Wednesday’s county board meeting, including Democrat Helen Hawkins, a long-time storm water expert.

Prenzler, a Republican, said he nominated Hawkins, who represents County Board District 16 in Granite City, because of her lengthy experience in dealing with storm water and general drainage issues.

“This is Helen’s passion,” Prenzler said. “Helen has forgotten more about drainage than these guys on the MESD board know.”

He added, “I believe she has the intellectual clarity for the job.” The position pays $15,000 per year.

Prenzler said he recently went to the levee board and asked the three members from Madison County if he could “put in my team,” and they agreed and have resigned. They are William Hanfelder, Frank Laub and James Pennekamp. The board has five members. Madison County gets an extra seat because its overall assessed valuation is more than St. Clair County, which gets two seats.

Also nominated by Prenzler for a levee board seat are Charles Brinza, who develops computer programs for the banking industry, and Don Sawicki, a computer consultant. The appointments need county board approval.

Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer, whose city depends on the levee board for protection during flooding, sent a letter May 11 criticizing Prenzler’s decision to replace all three Madison County members.

“I, as mayor of Granite City, am quite concerned over any type of reorganization at this time as there are critical issues facing MESD and I strongly believe replacement of any of the MESD board members is a mistake due to these issues.”

Prenzler said Hawkins’ multiple governmental positions — besides the county board, she is the clerk for Nameoki Township — do not present a conflict.

The county board meets at 5 p.m. in the county administration building in Edwardsville.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk