2012-10-04 / Front Page

County delays filling spot

Emergency management coordinator to be interim

MANISTIQUE – The county’s emergency management coordinator position will remain vacant for the time being. In a meeting of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners, members voted to pursue an interim coordinator, rather than hire one of the three candidates interviewed for the position.

The emergency management coordinator position became available in August, following the resignation of Robert Madden. At the time, commissioners voted to post the position opening and have Commissioner Craig Reiter attend any meetings in the meantime. In September, three candidates were interviewed for the position.

During Thursday’s meeting, Reiter explained that while the interviews went well, he was interested in taking another route. After speaking with and obtaining a copy of the county’s emergency management plan from Lt. Don Brown, Michigan State Police Emergency Management Coordinator for Region 8, he said concerns arose.

“We have people in here (the plan) that, not only, aren’t in that position anymore, but (are) no longer in the role of the living,” Reiter said. “Our plan has some serious, serious holes – we are not ready for any type of emergency.”

Instead of hiring someone new to fix the flawed plan, Reiter suggested the county contract with Robert Berbohm, Delta County’s emergency management coordinator.

“To throw someone new into this position right now would be to set up someone for disaster,” he said. “Our emergency program, for whatever reason, is beyond broke. We virtually have no plan.” Using Berbohm for a limited period would give the county the opportunity to use Delta County’s plan as a model and update their plan, explained Reiter. Once everything is corrected, he said the county could again advertise the open position and put someone local in charge.

“We won’t know exactly how long it’s going to take to get our system up and running to where it should be until Bob actually gets in and starts redoing it,” he said. “I just don’t want to set anyone up for failure. We had excellent people apply, but our system – it’s bad.”

Delta County had already expressed their support of this idea, Reiter said, and once local support was received, details of compensation would be worked out and brought back to the board. From that point, Berbohm would be brought in as an interim emergency management coordinator and mentor for his eventual replacement.

“This kind of goes along the line of what the governor’s talking about, too – about trying to consolidate some services,” Commissioner George Ecclesine said.

The board voted unanimously to allow Reiter to pursue Berbohm to temporarily fill the coordinator position.

In other business, the board also adopted the 2012-13 fiscal year budget. According to Audit/Finance Chairperson Dan LaFoille, the budget is balanced, but the county is still awaiting final figures to have a more solid estimate of their financial state. These figures should come in throughout October, he added.

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