Christmas Brings Fresh Start for GI City Council


In a year of controversy surrounding the mayor, this holiday season brings a fresh start to Grand Island City Hall.

Grand Island will celebrate Christmas in style with a tree that stopped traffic. A 38 foot blue spruce came to City Hall during last week's snow. This week, it's the centerpiece for a holiday celebration.

City Administrator Mary Lou Brown said, "We're celebrating the 20th anniversary of the lighting of the tree and this year's theme is Winter Candyland."

Then it's down to business with an important city council meeting.

Brown said, "We will have some goodbyes from two council members who are leaving and we'll be swearing in five council members who have been re-elected or elected to begin with."

But it's not all candy canes, there's business to be done, as two new city council members take office.

Mike Paulick said, "That's always been a goal of mine for the last 30 years when I retired; I would go, try to get on the council."

The opportunity comes earlier than anticipated for Paulick. He spent 30 years working for the city, until budget cuts cost him his job.

He says the layoff did not motivate him to seek office, but says he will lean on his experience.

"When you're on one side of the fence you wear one hat, but when you're on the other side you wear another. It's just trying to bring both sides together and have them work together smooth," he said.

It's been far from a smooth year at Grand Island City Hall. Mayor Jay Vavricek asked the city administrator to resign before bringing her back.

The mayor was then publicly reprimanded by the council, and the subject of a failed recall attempt.

Mike Paulick hopes things will improve.

"Just openness between administration and council. There's been a lot of shaky ground the last year but I think if we work together and are open and honest things should work out," he said.

As the city welcomes two new council members with carols and cookies, and a big tree, they look forward to the business at hand.

Paulick said, "Bottom line is taxpayers, that's who we work for."

Festivities start at six on Tuesday night with a high school choir and tree lighting at 6:30.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m., where they will also elect a new city council president.