Deputy to fill court position
MANISTIQUE – The 93rd District Court will be getting a new magistrate this fall, following a nomination from Judge Mark E. Luoma. The Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners approved the nomination during a recent meeting.
According to Commissioner Dan LaFoille, the current magistrate, Belinda Cole, will be retiring in October, with her final day in the office set for Sept. 11. David Maddox, a deputy with the Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department, received Luoma’s nomination to replace Cole.
Upon hearing Luoma’s nomination, personnel committee members LaFoille and board Chairperson Al Grimm, met and agreed to also suggest Maddox for the county board’s approval. According to LaFoille, Maddox would begin his employment as magistrate on Aug. 12, in order to give him ample time for training.
“Generally speaking, we don’t have the luxury of training folks ahead of time,” he explained. “This is a job that has many responsibilities, and the opportunity to get this face-to-face training with Mrs. Cole is important, not only for David, but for our county.”
In his acceptance of the new position, LaFoille said Maddox would attend two magistrate trainings between now and his start date.
“We would incur the cost of the training, the lodging and the travel,” LaFoille said. “Dave has also said that he would be spending whatever time he can in the district court office on his own, to put himself in a better position for the Aug. 12 start.”
Maddox would use accumulated vacation time with the sheriff’s department for the trainings and whatever free personal time he has to shadow Cole in the office before his actual start date, he added. Since he would be considered a “new hire”, LaFoille said Maddox would move from an established B4 MERS (Municipal Employees’ Retirement System) retirement plan to a B2 plan.
“We also have a policy, within our county, that any new positions like this – they receive a 10 percent cut; and we have done that to at least two other individuals,” he said. “We’re (he and Grimm) suggesting that we waive that … because of the time that David will be giving between now and Aug. 12 and the added responsibilities of the job.”
LaFoille noted that if Maddox stayed in the sheriff’s department, with overtime, he would likely make more than he would as a magistrate. He also added it would be in everyone’s best interest to vote on the matter as soon as possible.
Judge Luoma explained he would seek a grant to cover the cost of at least one of the training seminars, though the mileage and some of the meals would still have to be covered by the county.
LaFoille made the motion to approve Luoma’s nomination, allow Maddox to start on Aug. 12, move from a B4 to a B2 retirement plan, and to be exempt from the 10 percent wage reduction as described in county policy.
Commissioner Sue Cameron added she thought the fact that the county had previously reduced wages by 10 percent in at least two other positions and that Maddox would be avoiding this pay cut may serve as a point of contention for some employees.
“The judge and Mrs. Cole have both gone over the responsibilities that the magistrate has, and they are significant,” LaFoille said. “Not that our other department heads aren’t, but this is a pretty big move. I also believe that David’s acceptance of responsibility for getting the training on his own is a big benefit to us, and I appreciate him offering that up.”
He added that Maddox would be entering an office that is currently “working at a minimum” with the amount of staff it has.
“You hate to set policy, but this is kind of a unique situation,” said Commissioner Reiter. “This is not so much a new hire; more of a lateral.”
The board unanimously approved LaFoille’s motion.