North Henderson trustee resigns amid fight over water bills

A village leader in North Henderson, Illinois is off the board of trustees, resigning in the middle of a fight over water bills.

People in town say their own leaders are breaking the law.

Four out of the six trustees on the North Henderson board are under fire after making late water payments.

“I’ve never had any problems you know and I can’t understand why people can’t do what they’re suppose to do,” said resident Shirley Watson.

Documents show that indeed four out of the six trustees had been behind or hadn’t paid. Twenty-two people living in North Henderson signed a letter asking the village president to have those trustees removed. The issue was brought up again at a board meeting Thursday, August 14, 2014.

Some say it’s not a big deal while others say it’s against the law. The Illinois law states that people can’t take an oath of office in a municipality if they owe it money.  Another concern is the village just recently got a new water system.

“We have a $392,000 loan we are going to be facing here. If we don’t pay the bills we can’t pay the loan,” said resident, Jim Tucker.

At the meeting the village president read a letter of resignation from one of the trustees. The other trustees are still on board, an issue that residents say is far from over.

The village president and the trustees had no comment for News 8. The village appointed a new attorney who will look into the issue and advise the board on what to do.

46 comments

  • Joyce Tucker

    Thank you WQAD for airing this story. It has been a long hard fight to get to this point. There are still miles to go but letting the community know the facts is very important.

    • Lynn

      Yes, I am glad WQAD is following this earthshaking news!) Maybe after a few months they will see that this group of people have nothing else to do with their lives but make trouble. How sad that they would not rather be with ther families or enjoying life. If it’s not where to have the meetings, or water bills, I’m sure they will find something else. Being on TV must be the highlight of their lives!! How exciting!!!????? Glad to see the lawyer at the table!

      • John Kraft

        Lynn, the sad thing here is that you mention nothing about violations of the law. The Illinois Legislature put rules in place for a reason, and one of those rules is that you cannot be arrears in debt to the municipality at any time during your term of office. What is so hard to understand about that simple rule?

  • anonymous

    It’s too bad a small minority can make such a big deal out of nothing. I grew up in North Henderson and it was a great place to live at that point. Unfortunately, former Village President (1 term) Jim Tucker and a few others have nothing better to do with their time than to cause headaches for good people who are serving their village. I’ve witnessed current and former trustees volunteering numerous hours of their time to help that community. I don’t recall Mr Tucker ever volunteering or helping the community in any way. My advice to him and the other miserable people making a mountain out of a molehill: Find a hobby. Leave these good people alone to do what they were elected to do.

    • smokefyre

      Thank you. These outsiders are prying into the lives of the people of this tiny village and exposing them to be poor. Big deal. We knew they were poor before. The fact that a water system was installed without public discussion and that the people are now collectively in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars is not a laughing matter. Forcing a HUGE increase on water bills and then trying to shame people is outrageous. WQAD made this story extremely one-sided. It would be great for them to expose the tactics this little pack of thugs of using to bully the community.

    • Joyce Tucker

      No one will address the issue of THE LAW! You are all entitled to your opinions and I know change is difficult for all of us but this law was enacted for a reason and it is because, apparently, people sitting on a board tend to think they don’t have to pay their bills to the body they represent. Those that represent us are held to a higher standard then the rest of us. Get used to that. It SHOULD be that way.

      • anonymous

        Has anyone checked to see if all trustees under Mr Tucker were ever a day late on their water bill? I would love to know that.

    • Joyce Tucker

      Just to set the record straight, Jim Tucker has spent countless hours working on various problems in this village. He personally installed many (90%) of the new water meters. He didn’t have to do that. He could have had the village pay for somebody to do that but HE did it. Get your facts straight. It also says a lot about a person who can’t sign their name to their accusations.But back to the issue – we have board members that have not paid their water bills on time. In fact, Carol Rogers just admitted last night that she didn’t pay her water bill (again!) in time. What part of the law can’t anyone get? It is against the law of the state of Illinois and all board members have taken an oath to uphold that law.

    • John Kraft

      Those “good people” were elected to follow the law. They broke the law. The penalty is no longer being qualified for office. How hard is that to understand?

  • Nancy

    Has the reporter asked Mr Tucker (the former Village President) if there were board members delinquent on water payments during his administration?

      • Joyce Tucker

        Once again, speaking without facts. If you want an answer to that question, place a Freedom of Information Act request with the village. That’s how we got our information. And I will reiterate more facts that have been put out there but don’t get heard. The law was enacted in July 2013.

      • anonymous

        Mr Tucker would not allow prospective trustees to file paperwork in January of 2013 (before law was in force according to you) because they were late on their water payment. Was he enforcing a law that wasn’t there? Again, find a freaking hobby and leave these people alone!

      • Joyce Tucker

        Mr. Tucker had no authority to remove anyone from the ballot. Phyllis Bewley, Mercer County clerk, removed the individuals from the ballot. He did notify them that they were not on the ballot. The section of the law that was enforced at that time has been on the books for some time. I am paraphrasing but it said that a candidate had to be qualified to be on the ballot. ‘Qualified’ indicated that the candidate did not owe monies to the public body as well as other things (no felonies, etc.). The section of the law that was enacted in July 2013 has to do with seated board members, not candidates.

  • Diane

    If Mr.Tucker is so concerned about the money situation, why did his administration spend 6100 dollars of the villages tax money on private property? The vast majority of the citizens did NOT sign the petition to remove the current board members who were late with water payment. Why do these same people who cause so much turmoil not run for office?

      • Joyce Tucker

        Current Village President Ron Brown was elected with 27 votes (no opposition). 22 signatures is a pretty good percentage if you ask me.

      • anonymous

        Do some math. 27>22. Also Mr Tucker went door to door soliciting signatures if he had waited for people to come to him he would have 3 to 4 signatures. Have Mr Tucker run again and see how many people would vote for him vs the current president. He didn’t run last time because he knew he couldn’t win because of the damage he did to the village in his one term.

    • Joyce Tucker

      Why don’t you ask a currently seated board member that actually made the motion to pay for that concrete back in 2010? Maybe she can explain it to you.

  • anonymous

    Another issue I found intriguing at the time was that North Henderson had a mowing service contacted yearly to mow village properties. The person was doing a good job but while Mr Tucker was Village President amazingly his sister won those bids. And by the way, she did a poor job of keeping the mowing up.

  • Joyce Tucker

    No one will even address the issue that a currently seated board member is not allowed to be on the board if they are in arrears to the village. What part of that don’t you understand? It is simple. What I interpret from the comments is that you want to make up your own laws and operate under your own jurisdiction. Are you implying that everyone should just look the other way? What laws would be enforced, if any, by this administration? Would it be a case by case basis? Not on my watch.

    • anonymous

      I understand it fully, I just don’t see that a few days is a huge issue, but I guess to some people it is. I hope I never get to a point in my life when I’m so miserable that I have to call the news because a few people are a day or two late on a bill. I guess people in the village should’ve called the news when the previous administration quadrupled the water rates.

      • Joyce Tucker

        You obviously haven’t been shown the water bills of the trustees that have been late. It isn’t just days. It’s more like months for some of them. Kind of like running a tab at a bar. Pay when you feel like it, if you feel like it. What would happen if we all did that? As much as you would like to believe that the water system could function with $6.00/month water bills, you are sadly mistaken. Just as the price of gas has risen, so has the cost of everything else – testing, water operator costs, chlorine, electricity, etc. In order to cover those costs AND to cover future expenses, the monthly fees had to be increased. As important as those increases were, it is just as important that people pay for those services.

    • Diane

      I am no lawyer, but I believe a precedent was set when Mr.T accepted late water bill payments from board memberS during his administration. This was done after the ordinance was amended. Nate, I have lived in the community for 62 years….lol…thanks for the nice comments. You have a great dad!

    • anonymous

      I wonder how many of the people who are raising such a stink about this are volunteering to replace the trustees they want removed? I’m guessing zero.
      Also, a person has to be a special kind of pathetic to drive 200 miles one way to complain at a village board meeting in a town of less than 200 people. I seriously feel sorry for someone like that.

  • anonymous

    If you’re that worried about facts you might wanna tell Mr Tucker to get his straight on the loan. It’s NOWHERE NEAR $392,000. He signed the loan he should know the actual amount that was borrowed. But the actual amount wouldn’t be as dramatic on the TV.

  • Lynn

    So many people have told me this is exactly what he did to the Alexis Ambulance Service and that the volunteers all wrote letters to him saying if he didn’t quit they would all resign! His reputation (such that it is) proceeds him.

  • Nate

    I grew up in N. Henderson. My father is the current president of the village. I’m really trying and failing to understand the motives of Mr. Tucker and the people by his side in this fight. I remember every birthday, graduation, wedding, etc always having his wife’s cake, her cakes will always be my favorite. I remember riding my bike to their house to get sugar or flour for my mom when she was out. This was commonplace in this friendly community. Mr. Tucker and my father worked together often in the EMS and fire department. There is no history of dislike. I can’t understand when or how being neighborly became less important then village finances. My father is the mayor of a small town, be has endured more stress than the position requires or pays. At every request by this group to have trustees unseated, he has sought and followed the guidance of the state’s attorney. My parents have lived in this town for over 40 years, and I’m sure they will spend the rest of their lives there. My father always has the village’s best interests in mind in every situation.

    • Joyce Tucker

      @Nate – I appreciate your statements. I have been visiting North Henderson for over 40 years myself. I remember a gas station (my dad actually bought gas there sometimes), a grocery store, a restaurant. Change has occurred. It would be nice to go back to that but it will never happen. We have attempted to sit down with board members and have discussions. No one will meet with us. How do you mediate differences if both sides won’t come to the table? IF ANYONE on the board wants to have a discussion and deal with this in an adult manner, I would be more than happy to sit down and have that discussion. We have documentation to prove those attempts. I’m sorry your dad is feeling the stress. My brother lost a part of his finger during his administration because of fatigue which led to other health problems that lingered for months. He also dealt with a great deal of stress for not enough pay. But all this does not solve the problem we currently face.

      • Annynomous

        Everyone in life has a choice. A choice to get along, have a good day, be a team player. Some live their lives in misery just to make other’s share the same stench! Go live your life and stop complaining about other’s. Worry about your own problems: Have you checked your current status on if you billing is paid up to date? Look in the mirror. These people are simply trying to do a good deed! Adult bullies….that is who you are!

    • Carol

      So true, Ron served as president for at least 25 years and Jim got in there because Ron was not able to be at the caucus that year. Jim served one year and then Ron was voted back in. What does that tell you about Ron’s leadership and his ability to lead this town?

  • Lynn

    Amen to that Nate! And no, John Kraft, nothing hard to understand about the rules….and we will see how that all plays out!! And again, glad there is a lawyer at the table!

    • Lynn

      PS Joyce, be sure to email John Kraft that he needs to get online to respond again. I would guess he isn’t in the range of WQAD!

  • Diane

    Well it has been great communicating with all you people. I am certain that we are the only people reading it. Anyway, this will be my last post here as I am going to go enjoy this wonderful world God has created and my family which he has granted to me. I pray that there will be peace in this valley (village) someday…SOON. God bless everyone with love and peace.

  • Carol

    Let’s talk about the law, Joyce. A President does not have the power to make decisions that override the board. When you were appointed to be the treasure shortly after moving here, I said to Jim, “As your sister, can she be appointed to the board. Seems like that is a conflict of interest to me?” Jim said, “Any resident of the village can be appointed and I am appointing her.” I then asked if the board gets a say in the matter and was told point blank, “You can discuss it all you want, but I am the president and I am appointing her.” If you look up the rules, you would know that that is not how a board is run. The president is there to lead and give suggestions, but does not have the final say. Also, when the board voted to table the $10,000 park work that Jim wanted to do until the water work was done, it showed up on the agenda the next month. When I asked how it got back on the agenda, I was told, “I wanted it on there. I want to get it done before I leave office.” Not legal, by the way. The board has to vote to get a tabled item back on the agenda.
    I also know that the same people who are on the board that you are trying to remove had late water bills when Jim was in office and nothing was addressed then.
    How many ordinances did you make so that you could “legally” bully people in this town. Jim’s neighbor was bullied about running his semi, it was too loud, even though you can’t hear it run over the noise of the grain bins that sit in Jim’s backyard. He took it upon his self to mow down a gentleman’s roses because “they are on city property”. They were planted along the ditch and improved the looks of the area.
    You are all bully’s and find pleasure in making others miserable. Well, guess what? You don’t make me miserable. I feel sorry for you and pray for you daily, which has not been an easy thing to do.
    The fact is that some of us have been late on our water bills, but they are paid. It is not a crime to pay your bill late or every utility in the country would be capitalizing on that. By the way, Joyce, who was late with their bill this month of the three of you hound dogs?
    If you find a discrepancy with anything that the village board does, then bring it to the attention of the board. In July I asked Jim if he had any proof for the allegations that he was making about the board missing funds. He said yes I do. I asked him, “Then would you bring them to the board so that we can look into the matter and get it resolved?” Nothing was brought to the board, but was taken to Channel 8 news. If you want the board to fix a problem then you have to bring it to our attention. You talk about the board “hiding” information. You three keep saying that you know things that you aren’t telling anyone because it would compromise the water project. If you know problems and don’t reveal them, you are just as guilty.
    The whole problem is that Jim put this town in debt to a point that our grandchildren will be paying it off and he is trying to make himself look better by making it look like it is someone else’s fault.

  • The outsider

    I am not a village resident, but have been on various boards. Public officials must understand they MUST set an example of ethics. Thumbing ones nose at the citizens by saying, ” My bill paying habits are none of your business” indicates ethics is not high on your list of moral public duties. Its about time some of foolish statements change to what does the law state and was anyone in violation. If some board members were/are are in violation then fessup and apologize to your citizens and resign as any normal honest and moral person would do. It appears you got caught with your hand in cookie jar and want to distract citizens attention away from your poor performance.

  • Carol

    Hey Outsider, where were you for the last four years when Jim Tucker was president. That is a great example of poor leadership and hiding things from the villagers. More to come once I get my proof together!!!!

  • Joyce Tucker

    @Carol – First and foremost, you CAN be late on your water bill and it isn’t a crime. You CAN’T be late on your water bill and sit on the board. So get off the board and don’t pay your water bill all you want. I don’t believe there has been any issue with a common citizen not paying their water bill. The issue is with seated board members. There is a law against a seated board member being in arrears to the public body.
    For all the other issues – I really really wish you had to ability to sit down and talk about these but, apparently, this is the only way you can communicate. WQAD asked you and Ron Brown for ‘your side’ of the story and you both turned them down. Now you want to spew in an environment where you think you won’t be contested or opposed. If you are opposed, you think that’s bullying. As a public official, that puts you in a tough situation.
    As for bringing this issue to the board – we have done that. We brought it to the board in March 2014. I read a letter from another citizen indicating that Carol Rogers(you) had violated the new law and actually read the law then. I handed a copy of that letter to the village clerk but apparently it was never shared with the board. We also brought it to the board in July 2014 where I directly asked the Village President what he was going to do about the board members in arrears. He said he was going to do nothing. Remember? It was in the first WQAD clip. Those answers are not acceptable. Issues have to be discussed because there is a difference of opinion. When and where can we do that?
    As for my late water bill – I don’t plan on paying a water bill as long as the board members don’t. If you don’t think you have to pay, then why should anybody else? Right now – 3 of the 5 remaining board members had late bills for this month.
    And PLEASE, PLEASE come forth with the ‘secrets’ of the Tucker administration. Bring it on.
    And for the record – nobody in this village called WQAD to cover this story. Not the first time they came or the second time. You can verify that with Jenna Morton.

  • Free water come get it

    I really feel bad for you watchdogs, go enjoy what retirement you have left, all of this 2500$ you show being stollen by the trustees amounts to them being 1 to 10 days late each month and a few times more than a month late, that doesn’t show me that they are stealing money or they feel they do not have to pay water bills it shows me that there like everybody else in the middle class!! Not really a huge deal that you 4 see as such a sin. Grow up!!! I wanted to show my kids that being part of a small community means being involved and do things that try to preserve small towns! I don’t think I was wrong to want to show my kids this. So what’s your end game when all 4 trustees resign because of the sin of a day late. Are you 4 going to swoop in and save the day. I hope not but that’s up to the people I guess. Thank you for the lie I told my children. I should of told them stand back and watch it crumble probably would of been more appropriate !! Oh yea I used to be able to drink my water before you guys got involved with the village!

  • Responsible

    Money can be exchanged for goods and services. If you want water, you pay for water. It’s really pretty simple. If you do not pay for water, you do not receive more water. As someone who manages homeowners association for the purpose of owning and maintaining a water system I have valuable experience with handling the “people who do not pay”.

    What are the policies of the water department for collecting on past due bills? The Village has to have solid policy and consistent application of it and the benefits and penalties it contains. Does anyone know what the published policy is? Does the Village consistently apply the penalties to those who do not pay, no matter how difficult they may be?

    My association makes it very clear. If you do not pay, your water will be shut off. If you do not pay, you will have a lien placed on your property. If you do not pay, you will go to court and you will pay the legal expenses of the association and the court costs when you lose and you still will have to pay the bill. Very clear. Very simple. Oh and if you think you can just not pay any of that, try selling your property with a lien on it. We do not have a policy of late fees because the consequences are clear. Pay, or go without.

    So why make it difficult for yourself, your heirs, your neighbors, etc.? Here’s a tip. Don’t!

    For those of you out there that are not paying your water bill because you think you can get away with it, look around. You cannot hide. Pay up. Stay paid up. Take something called “Personal Responsibility” and apply it to your life.

  • Carol

    I did respond at the last meeting, but you will notice what I had to say was cut from the newscast. I am not in arrears. As I have stated before, I do not have a water bill in my name, and my husband’s bill is paid every month. I’m sure that the law did not mean that if you pay your water bill late, you can never serve on the board. As in the past, you interpret the law to say what you want it to mean.

    This is the last that I am saying on the matter. Until a judge removes me from office I will be there to do what I was elected to do. Stand up for the rights of the citizens of this village and not let anyone be bullied. You know as well as I do that your problem with me is not a late water bill, but the fact that I stand up for what is right and don’t let any of you bully me around.
    I have done nothing illegal or unethical and will not be intimidated by those whose self esteem is so low that they have to try to make others look bad to make themselves look good.
    God Bless you, Hound Dogs!

  • Water World Warrior

    The village board members are current and all of their water bills are up to date. Ms Tucker seems to think that the current board should be held to a higher standard. Were the board members who were late on the previous presidents board not also to be held to a higher standard…? I guess not. Can the board please be left to do the things that need to be done? All of those people volunteer countless hours to serve this community. The former president and his followers are people who have no friends except for each other. That is because they do not wish to have friends. Being a friend entails thinking of another person with compassion. They do not speak to their neighbors or anyone in the town. They keep to themselves, so they can judge others. Can you imagine that the worse thing people do is be late with their water bill? There are so many problems in the world-hunger, war, illness etc. and those people are worried about the board members water bill. IT IS THE LAW-they rant. I wish people knew how wonderful the board members are. But they are judged by water bill payments. Wow-never having been late with a water bill makes a person faultless.

  • The outsider

    I keep a saying posted in my office. “:Society has gotten to the point where everybody has a right, but nobody has a responsibility.”

    From the outside looking in it appears some board members wish to have the right to pay their city obligations late, but refuse to accept the responsibility of their decision. Your citizens elected you to be RESPONSONABLE representatives. You are being dishonest toward those good citizens when you fail to keep the commitment (OATH) you swore to honor.

    As I stated before fess up, apologize and resign.

    Mr. Mayor, If you cannot muster the courage to honor your OATH and dismiss the offenders, then you need to fess up and join them with your resignation. At this particular time your town needs a STRONG leader!!!

    One final comment: Your petty comments trying to blame others for YOUR misguided rights is what most grammar students do when confronted with playground misbehavior. GROW UP AND ACCEPT YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES.

  • Water World Warrior

    Outsider, you speak of responsibility…the board members are very responsible. They volunteer to paint-put up the American Flag which by the way was never honored by previous president. They build whatever needs to be done. They do not DESTROY the property of the village. As for the president of the village, he does a wonderful, honorable job. Let’s take a vote to see who trusts the former president and who trusts the current one. Odds are the present one will win by a landslide. Who received the money from scrapping a huge water tank that was DESTROYED by Mr Tucker with his own hands without notifying the EPA? Responsible…..I think not!

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