Nelson to become next Benton Township superintendent

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Kelli Nelson is tabbed to replace Elden Piontek as Benton Township’s superintendent.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Piontek recommended Nelson succeed him after trustees voted to accept his letter of resignation. The board agreed to this unanimously.

Nelson takes over as superintendent Oct. 1. Piontek announced last week he would resign from his post on Sept. 30.

“Thank you for your support and the trust that you’ve placed in me,” Nelson told trustees Tuesday. “I’m excited for the opportunity to serve the board and the township residents. I know the position of superintendent comes with a great level of responsibility.”

Nelson thanked Piontek for his mentorship and said she has “big shoes to fill.”

Trustees further accepted Nelson’s resignation as controller. She had already assumed a lot of Piontek’s responsibilities at the start of her most recent contract. Nelson’s increase of work days from three to four in January were made to assume additional duties.

Piontek gave trustees a breakdown of Nelson’s contract and why he recommended her to be his replacement.

Nelson was given a three-year contract, which ends Sept. 30, 2019. Nelson will be paid about $80,300 a year – a figure that remains the same as she was being paid to be controller.

Nelson now works four days a week, but she was allowed to work up to two days from home. Piontek said the new contract calls for her to be on site all four days per week.

“Ms. Nelson and I have worked very closely together on all the township projects. She certainly is informed and up to speed on what is happening in the township. She’s been here for many years, and tonight I am honored and proud to recommend you approve her contract. While her contract requires her to be here four days a week, the job is 24/7.”

Although Nelson is entitled to insurance benefits from the township, Piontek told trustees she’s turned them down.

Nelson was first hired to serve as the township’s controller in December 2009 and worked through December 2012. She then took one year off and came back in the beginning of 2014.

Piontek said the township should consider filling Nelson’s former position as controller and told trustees he has a candidate in mind.

“I do have someone in mind. They would be looking at three days a week to keep the position part-time,” he said. “The reason I say that is because the township will save on benefits. I hope to bring something back to you before I leave.”

Piontek has one more board meeting left before he resigns. Trustees meet at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20.

Piontek’s role within the township was simultaneously reduced in January when Nelson’s contract was reworked.

His work hours were lowered from five to one day per week with a reduction in annual salary from $57,000 to $28,000. Piontek was attached to the township through December 2018.

Piontek started working for the township as a controller in 1975. After he retired in 2010, Piontek came back as a superintendent in 2013.

“Elden’s been here since I was 4,” White joked Tuesday. “He’s been very important to the township and we’ll miss him.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Sept. 7, 2016)

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