Three voters decided the fate of the 72-year-old Village of Mackenzie during the April 3 election.
Assuming preliminary ballot results are certified by election officials, the 12 acres of Mackenzie will disband and be turned over to St. Louis County to govern. Certification will occur by no later than April 17, said Hannah Talley, St. Louis County Election Board administrative assistant.
The decision about the village's potential dissolution was in the hands of only 33 total voters on April 3. A simple majority of 51 percent was needed to disband it. When 18 of that day's voters cast their yes-to-dissolve vote, it equated to 55 percent agreeing to revert to being unincorporated St. Louis County residents.
But just in case the village wasn't going to dissolve, voters also could cast write-in votes for a trustee during the same election. Uncertified results indicated Adina Johnson received 39 percent (17 votes) of write-in support, and Dorothy Berry received 25 percent (11 votes).
Berry, at age 92, is the longest-running Mackenzie trustee for the past 18 years. She currently serves as clerk for the municipality, and has owned her home there for 65 years. Her sister, Patricia Berry, 85, is village chair.
"Some people are disappointed about the change and I, too, have mixed emotions. But I wish they would've had that reaction in the beginning when we started talking and meeting about dissolving, rather than these feelings suddenly surfacing. I guess many people were just satisfied with the way things were running," said Dorothy Berry.
She said a year ago she invited some neighbors to her house to discuss possibly taking over the reins of Mackenzie, but no one showed interest.
"We may be small, but there was constantly things to take care of, such as bills, complaints, election material, making the budget and insurance papers. Over time, it did get a bit tedious," she said.
"We tried to get others to take over our roles. Many of the long-term residents had moved out or are into nursing homes. Newcomers over the years wanted to be compensated for their services to Mackenzie, but we have no tax base and had to rely on grants, as well as state and county funding sources," she added.
Mackenzie is located just south of Watson Road and is bordered by Mackenzie Road and Resurrection Cemetery on the west, the St. Louis city limits on the east, and unincorporated St. Louis County on the south. It was one of the county's 89 municipalities.
Named after Kenneth MacKenzie, a Scotsman who settled in Affton in the 1820s, the village was developed in the 1930s and incorporated in 1946. It has a population of 134, based on the latest U.S. census.
The Berry sisters and three other trustees have been operating the village from Dorothy's home — all as volunteers and all starting to be concerned about aging, health and stamina. With a reported annual budget of $50,000, the Mackenzie team managed a small park, snow removal, garbage collection and contract services with the Shrewsbury Police Department.
Dorothy said losing the support of Shrewsbury police officers was one of the main objections from those who did not want to dissolve the village. In the future, they will be policed by St. Louis County.
The village's residents are served by the Affton School District. Along Mackenzie Road are the village's three streets: Rhodes Avenue, Holly Hills Avenue and Menola Street.
During January, the trustees went door-to-door to collect a sufficient quorum number of signatures to put disincorporation of the village on the April ballot. Legal statutes dictated that 25 percent of Mackenzie's registered voters needed to sign the petition. They needed more than 24 validated signatures, and they got it.
By February, one of the village's trustees of nearly a decade resigned. The remaining trustees didn't know how the vote would go and are concerned about certain village aspects being maintained while also feeling relieved.
Dorothy admits she'll miss having a some control over Mackenzie matters, such as public parking.
"To some degree, the residents always liked being able to make our own rules and ordinances," she said.
She said they have the bills and services handled through April, and are expecting movement of operations during May.
Mackenzie's trustees always met around Dorothy's dining room table on the second Wednesday of every month. While they didn't have a post-election party, the four trustees did gather for one last Mackenzie meeting this week.