TAWAS CITY – The Iosco County Board of Commissioners conducted their annual organizational meeting on Jan. 6, implementing some changes to the board for the year.

One of the major changes during the meeting, which was held via video conferencing, was the makeup of the board itself. The board unanimously approved the appointment of Commissioner Jay O’Farrell as chairman of the board, and Commissioner Robert Huebel as vice chairman of the board.

Huebel was previously chairman and O’Farrell was previously vice chairman after a vote of the organizational meeting from last year. 

Before the new appointments, Iosco County Clerk/Co-Administrator Nancy Huebel led the meeting, asking for nominations for chairman of the board of commissioners.

It was Commissioner Charles Finley who nominated O’Farrell as chairman of the board of commissioners. He was seconded by Commissioner Terry Dutcher, and there were no other nominations for chairman of the board. Nancy Huebel called a roll-call vote, and O’Farrell was unanimously voted in as chairman.

O’Farrell took over handling meeting duties as the board’s new chairman. Next the position of vice chairman was filled with a vote from members of the board. Finley nominated Huebel to the position of vice chairman and was seconded. The vote to appoint Huebel to vice chairman was unanimous.

Next the board decided standing committee appointments. O’Farrell cast a motion to keep the current commissioners on their own standing committee appointments as during the 2020 year. 

“We already have commissioners assigned to those committees at this time,” O’Farrell said. “If there is no objection I’d cast a motion to keep them as it is.”

He was seconded by Dutcher and the motion passed 5-0.

There were several other appointments by the board, including one for the Iosco County Treasurer’s office. The board voted unanimously to appoint April Johnson as the county’s deputy clerk. Her new salary as deputy clerk will be $42,656.

Commissioner also entered into a contract with Dr. Jaya Sankaran to serve as the county’s medical examiner. Sankaran, a pathologist, will work as the county’s medical examiner for a fee of $15,000. The contract is effective for two years and expires on Dec. 31, 2022.

In other business, after conducting organizational meeting business, commissioner entered into a closed session to discuss pending legal issues concerning the Iosco County Prosecutor Jim Bacarella, who recently sued the county, winning a temporary restraining order to keep his funding restored for 2021. This was after mass budget cuts from the Iosco County Board of Commissioners in December.

Dutcher cast a motion to go into the closed session, with Huebel supporting the motion. The board entered into closed session to discuss litigation strategy with Attorney Timothy Perrone of Cohl, Stoker and Toskey of Lansing. The closed session lasted for an hour, and commissioners opened the meeting back up at 11 a.m.

After this commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the closed session minutes and to accept and continue with the recommendation and the strategy “devised in our closed session.” The motion was seconded by O’Farrell and passed unanimously.

After the meeting, Huebel wanted to reiterate that he did not see his not being reappointed to the position of chairman as a slight. 

“There is no bad blood,” Huebel said. “I think we have a very cooperative and working board, I wish O’Farrell the best, I am looking forward as vice chairman to working with him because these are going to be a couple of tough years coming up.”

O’Farrell thanked Huebel for his comments, and said that there is a good team working in the county for the citizens of Iosco County.

“There has nothing that has been as challenging right now, we are going to get the job done and we’re going to move on to bigger and better things,” he said. 

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