At final council meeting, Warsaw Mayor Thallemer praised for work ethic, vision

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer (L) listens as Council member Cindy Dobbins tells a story about the two when they were driving to a meeting in Michigan. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — One of the unsung roles of any mayor is serving as the target for complaints on city issues, whether it involve snow removal, garbage pick-up or taxes. And on his final night with city council, Mayor Joe Thallemer was still not immune to that tradition.

As Monday’s meeting was reaching its conclusion, local resident Gary Parker chided Thallemer for not completing or moving fast enough on projects, including the rejuvenation of the old Gatke property and progress on a multi-use development project at the site of the old Owens grocery store.

To be clear, those projects are moving forward, albeit it not fast enough for the man behind Monday’s awkward rant.

Nonetheless, Thallemer politely thanked him for his input and then sat back and listened as numerous elected leaders and other city officials praised him with a long list of accolades.

Thallemer is retiring after 12 years in office and some 27 years in city government.

One by one, officials took turns highlighting Thallemer’s strengths and accomplishments, as the mayor’s wife, Jill, sat in the audience.

“You’re one heck of a mayor and one heck of a public servant,” said councilman Jeff Grose who will step into the role of mayor beginning in January. “I actually call you a friend in the arena now. True friend, true friend.”

“We have been blessed. The mark you have put on this community has been so positive, and I thank you for that,” Grose added.

Council member Jack Wilhite, who first met Thallemer when they were at Warsaw Community High School in 1973, praised Thallemer’s ability to bring people together and produce results. 

“There’s a lot of balls to keep in the air and there’s a lot that’s gotten done,” Wilhite said. “Your ability to keep issues from getting out of hand “has been masterful.”

Thallemer’s moral compass is strong, Wilhite said, “and his love for our community is evident.”

Many spoke about Thallemer’s amount of time on the job.

“I don’t think you will find, probably, anyone that puts in more hours than he does,” said Council Member Cindy Dobbins.

City attorney Scott Reust said Thallemer was able to focus on the big issues while also addressing other topics like trees and cats.

“He wants to deal with the really tough issues and I think that’s what sets him apart,” Reust said. “He’s ready to stand on the front lines and take the punches every day and try to be fair. He’s done a great job with that.”

Thallemer, in turn, credited his father with his work ethic and thanked everyone for their support.

“There are distractractions. There are naysayers. I’ve learned from the naysayers,” Thallemer said.

“Not everything can be perfect,” he said. “The … pandemic got in the way of a few things, caused some ripple effects for several few years, but this has been the greatest job of my life.”

He said the city has been blessed to have such a strong legacy industy like orthopedics.

“We’re an extremely lucky community. Being mayor in this communithy has been a privilige. I just didn’t want to mess it up. I really wanted to do the right thing and you can’t please everybody,” Thallemer said.

Thallemer will be formally honored with a reception Wednesday beginning at noon at the Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavilion. The public is welcome. The event continues until 4 p.m.