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Local News

Barry County goes ahead with training for elected and appointed officials

The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole last week recommended approval of a plan to contract with Leadership Barry County to hold training sessions for elected officials and those appointed to various positions on county boards and committees.

 

The commission brought it up and approved it Tuesday. The agreement covers costs, liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, compliance with laws and non-discrimination, among other legal issues. The cost is $700 for the annual orientation workshop, $500 for each additional workshop and $200 for each quarterly leadership development workshop.

 

Barry County Commissioner Vivian Conner opposed the proposal last week and again this week. Other commissioners had some misgivings, but on balance thought it was a good idea. Conner said the committee heads should give any training needed to new members to fit the individual board’s needs, with materials and training supplied by the Michigan Association of Counties at no charge.

 

It was the consensus of the board that it not be mandatory, but Commissioner/Chairman Ben Geiger wanted to make it clear that the board would appoint who would take the training.

 

Former commissioner Craig Stolsonburg sent a letter to the commissioners with several reasons why the training would “blow up in your faces.” When he was on the board, they had a hard time finding volunteers for positions, he said.

“Now you are considering adding additional burden to volunteers.  This action will further thin the pool of willing/able volunteers to serve at the pleasure of the county board of commissioners… not to mention, you are spending valuable county resources to do so.”
 

Geiger said Stolsonburg brought up some good points and agreed with one of them; that it didn’t make sense to require training for someone on a small board that meets once a year. Michelle Skedgell spoke in support of the training. “Training is not a burden.”  No matter your age or occupation, you can always learn, she said. “The people involved with boards will appreciate it. Leadership Barry County fits in perfectly with your strategic plan and your vision.”

 

Several commissioners noted that the program wouldn’t start until 2019, giving them time to develop criteria on who would be asked to take training. The vote to approve was 6-1 with Conner voting no.

 

Adding to her angst, Geiger didn’t see Conner raise her hand when he asked for comment and then called for a vote on purchasing Granious software for $2,250 and a $7,200 annual fee that would expedite the process of committee assignments.

Geiger apologized and Conner gave some of her questions, but there was no further comment and the 6-1 vote, with Conner dissenting, stood.

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