Benzie County Board of Commissioners Meeting Reports

February 25, 2022 — Special Meeting to Discuss Open Position on Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department  

Board of Commissioner Chair Bob Roelofs (Almira Township, east of Reynolds Road) and commissioners/BLDHD board members Gary Sauer (Blaine, Gilmore, Joyfield, and Weldon townships) and Rhonda Nye (Benzonia Township) met to discuss the three applicants for the open board seat on the Benzie Leelanau District Health Department.

The meeting was led by Katie Zeits, Benzie County administrator. After the three commissioners each discussed the three applicants, Gary Sauer made a motion to recommend the reappointment of Dr. Mark Kuiper to the BLDHD Board. This recommendation will be presented to the whole board at their next meeting on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, and they will vote at that time. All applicants brought different skills to the table. The commissioners expressed hope that the two who are not selected will pursue other areas/boards in order to serve the community.

February 22, 2022 — Regular Meeting:

PUBLIC COMMENT
Mike Ross talked about Dr. Mark Kuiper and encouraged the Benzie Board of Commissioners to reappoint him to the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department board.

DEPARTMENT HEADS
Tom King, Benzie County EMS, reported that the new ambulance will arrive in March. Station 3 furnace failed recently, and he had to act quickly to get a replacement, due to the fact that the station is staffed 24/7. Our EMS was compensated $4,000 for covering an All Terrain Vehicle Race in northern Manistee county ( TWISTED TRAILS OFFROAD PARK). Tom King reported we need another ambulance, we need more staff, and we need 3 additional EMTs.

Amy Bissell, Registrar of Deeds, is retiring as of April 30,2022; Amy supports Paul Eberhart, who is the Chief Deputy Registrar, to replace her. Paula has been there 29 years.

Nate Loop, administrator at The Maples, reported that COVID-19 continues: year-to-date, 30% of the staff has tested positive for COVID. Currently, no residents are positive. To date: 98% of the staff are vaccinated, and 94% of the residents are vaccinated. Currently, there are 68 residents and 119 employees; they still need 1.5 full-time floor nurses. Nate Loop reported there is going to be a need for more memory care; they have a waiting list for memory care patients. They are looking to convert a second household to memory care.
The Maples is working on the millage language for submitting bids for capital improvement.

Commissioner Evan Warsecke (Colfax and Inland townships) has inquired about whether or not Benzie County residents are given priority for admission to The Maples over out-of-county individuals. Nate Loop gave a very detailed answer, which included the fact that 75% of the residents are Benzie County residents or have local relatives. (NOTE: I was very impressed with Nate’s whole report; I look forward to talking with him and meeting him).

ACTION ITEMS
Administrator Katlyn Zeits reports there has been $37,760 paid out in COVID-19 Sick Pay to the government employees and Benzie County Sheriff’s Office employees to date.

The Board of Commissioners acted on a Resolution to Support Paving the Betsie Valley Trail from Beulah to Thompsonville presented by Susan Wenzlik. There are new surfaces that stand up to snowmobile use. The board voted to support the resolution. (Of interest to Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail)

COMMISSIONER REPORTS
Bob Roelofs (commissioner for Almira Township, east of Reynolds) reported that there are two board openings for the Benzie County Economic Development Corporation Board, as Ed Kowalski recently resigned.

NOTE: FYI, the EDC, from their website: ”What we do: Benzie Economic Development Corporation provides a broad range of services and solutions to help new and existing businesses facilitate change, achieve their vision and optimize performance and productivity. This is achieved through partnerships with state, federal, and local agencies.”

Evan Warsecke (Colfax and Inland townships) reported that Benzie Bus is working on board member recruitment. Benzie Conservation District is looking to add staff, and Tad Peacock wants to retire by the end of the year. Someone asked about the BCD seedling sale, and Benzie County Administrator Katie Zeits reported the orders are due by Friday, April 8, and can be picked up Friday, April 22, 2022.

Just before the meeting ended around 12:30 pm, it was brought up by Art Jeannot (Lake, Platte, and Almira township, west of Reynolds) that no one had mentioned the next step in the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department board position appointment process, which had first been brought up at the meeting on January 25, 2022. There were three interviews on February 11, 2022. There will be an open meeting on Friday, February 25, 2022, at 9am at the government building. Bob Roelofs, Gary Sauer (Blaine, Gilmore, Joyfield, Weldon townships), and Rhonda Nye (Benzonia Township) will discuss the three candidates and come up with an individual to recommend to the whole Board of Commissioners. There is no public input at this meeting. (NOTE: I learned today, February 23, in a conversation that I had with Katie Zeits,that she told the board to post the at-large position. And it is true, that Dr. Kuiper completed Dr. Ryckman’s term and had never been interviewed.) They will make their recommendation to the other commissioners at the next BOC meeting on March 15, 2022. The meeting starts at 9am.

(NOTE: For the record, Dr. Mark Kuiper, who is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics, is also board certified in Emergency Medicine. He is highly regarded in Benzie County. Who better to serve on the BLDHD Board? )

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If you wish to see the full minutes, go to: benzieco.net. Scroll down to “Agendas, Minutes and Packets (Current),” then scroll down to “2022 Minutes”, open it, and go to the minutes you wish to review. There you will find business not included in this report.

The Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. You can attend these meetings in-person or virtually.

 

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