November 17, 2023 at 2:10 p.m.

21.5 total years of service pushed out the door

Dear Editor,

At the Nov. 7th Arena Village Board meeting Sargent Wyatt Miller and DNR Warden Ben Gruber received thanks for saving the life of a young woman through CPR. The CPR was performed while waiting for the Mazomanie ambulance.

Then, moments later, the resignations of Chief Nicholas Stroik and Sargent Miller as full-time officers came as a shock to all. Chief Stroik has spent 17 years of his life serving Arena. Sargent Miller has spent 4.5 years in the Village. Both officers live here, pay taxes in the Village, shop in the Village and are extremely visible within the community. Both officers have literally been available 24/7. They have paid out of their own pockets for their training and their police dog training and care. They have sacrificed pay increases in order to purchase equipment needed to perform their duties. 

While the Village Board, previously, two years in a row, passed Resolutions to increase pay for the other Village employees before budget work for the next year had even begun, the Police Dept. did not receive increases. The Police Department's consistent adherence to an exact and thoroughly thought out budget process is something the Arena Village Board, under Kate Reimann's tenure, has not done. 

Since 2019, Arena's Village finances have been managed with no thought for the future. This change in Police protection could have been avoided if a thought out budget process was utilized. During this year's Finance Committee budget meeting, a committee member's remark, "There is no money" never rang truer. I have a recording of the statement. 

For a Village Board member to state that Arena is just a stepping stone is also a very uninformed remark. Chief Stroik being here 17 years and Sargent Miller's 4.5 years of service throw that statement out the window. I have done a ride along with Chief Stroik, met with both officers, multiple times and discussed what happens in Arena, the surrounding area and the State. I asked questions about how and why they perform their duties. I can say with certainty, current Board members have not. 

I am pro law enforcement. I fully support two full time officers in Arena. We have a quiet and safer Village and Township, due to the 24/7 service of our officers. With part time service, I predict we will slowly see things change for the worse. To the people who do not support our two officers, I challenge you to contact them and ask them questions. They will respond and I predict you will change your thinking. 

Paul Pustina - Arena, WI