BOC to await millage vote before hiring new director

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

File photo by Dennis Mansfield

Krzysztof Oliwa

KALKASKA – It’s official. Krzysztof Oliwa is no longer the director of the Kaliseum Recreation Complex.

Oliwa, an NHL Stanley Cup championship winning defenseman as a member of the New Jersey Devils and former owner/manager of the Kalkaska Rhinos Junior Hockey team, recently informed the Kalkaska County Board of Commissioners he’d be stepping down as director of the county-owned facility in a March 6 email to board members.

“Due to horrific and life-changing events with my daughter back in New Jersey, I would like to inform you I have decided to relocate back to New Jersey to be close to her and to help with her recovery from injuries she sustained on Feb. 18, 2019, in a near fatal, multi-car/truck accident,” Oliwa wrote.

Oliwa, who earned the nickname “The Polish Hammer” during his days in the NHL, brought the Rhinos to Kalkaska in September 2014. He later offered to purchase the Kaliseum. Instead, commissioners decided to hire him as director in 2017.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of Kalkaska County and its community for the last five years and wish you nothing but the best in the future,” he added in his letter of resignation.

While recently accepting his resignation at their regular monthly meeting March 22, commissioners did not immediately start a search to find Oliwa’s replacement. Rather, they’ve decided to first wait and see whether voters will approve a 20-year, 1.5-mill ballot proposal in an upcoming special election on Tuesday, May 7.

“I recommended that they table filling the vacancy and revisit it after we know what direction the future of the facility is,” said Deborah Hill, Kalkaska County clerk. “It’d be hard to hire someone new not knowing the future for that job.”

The proposed 20-year levy would help raise over $28 million to repair and upgrade the facility, as well as fund operations over the duration of the millage.

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