Dagenais resigns Long Reach post

Village board leader says he stepped down for personal reasons


February 05, 2002|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

The chairman of the Long Reach Village Board has abruptly quit the panel that oversees Columbia's largest village.

Henry F. Dagenais, who served on the board for six years and was chairman for five, declined to say yesterday why he stepped down.

"It's a personal thing," said Dagenais, 70, a decorated Army colonel who served in Korea and Vietnam. "It's just time to go, time to move on."

Dagenais said that in a resignation letter sent to village officials Wednesday, he "gave a little bit of a reason, but that's between me and the board and the village manager."

Village officials reached yesterday declined to comment or said they had not read the letter.

A message on the village Web site says: "We regret to announce that Henry F. Dagenais has resigned from the Long Reach Village Board, effective immediately."

John Snyder, a former board member, said Dagenais had been talking for quite a while about giving up the responsibilities of the board.

Snyder attributed the timing to criticism Dagenais had received recently over a plan to build a 24-hour crisis center in Long Reach, one of three sites under consideration.

Dagenais has said he personally supports the center, which would serve homeless people, runaways and others in need of temporary shelter. But Dagenais also said he would oppose the plan if that is what the majority of residents wants.

"He's 70 years old, he's a war hero and he's got these nattering nabobs nipping at his heels," Snyder said. "He just packed it in."

But Dagenais said his decision was unrelated to the crisis center, which will be the subject of a town meeting at 7 o'clock tonight at Stonehouse in the Long Reach Village Center.

"The crisis center itself had nothing to do with it," he said.

The board oversees recreational programs and enforces local property standards in the village of 15,700.

The Long Reach Community Association operates with money from the Columbia Association and from funds through its community programs.

Dr. William A. Taylor, vice chairman of the board, will serve as acting chairman until the board selects a permanent chair.

Dagenais will be a tough act to follow, said Karen Hitcho, who joined the board in July.

"I'm just devastated that he's gone," Hitcho said. "He was such an asset to the board and to the community. He was just very knowledgeable.

"He spent hours and hours outside of meetings on programs like the HotSpot [police initiative] and tracking things down for residents. He just spent an enormous amount of time. Everyone in the village knew him."

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