County Commission Highlights

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The happenings of the County Commission, including the resignation of John Jarema as Civil Counsel, building permit issues, and the re-bidding of the Sheriff Substation project.

By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
(231) 222-2119

Highlights of the Wednesday April 25 Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Building department business
Motion to raise building and electrical administration fees from $30 to $35 and to allow the building department to levy fines on builders who do not obtain the proper permits – Nelson Fletcher, building department head, said he rarely issues fines unless it is a flagrant violation. Fletcher also argued that Charlevoix has the lowest permit fees in the region.

Charlevoix County Commissioner Ron Reinhardt voiced concern about raising fees on already struggling citizens.

A motion to allow building personnel to carry multipurpose tools was approved.

Permit fee increase passed with Drebenstedt as the lone “nay” vote.

The motion to allow fines was tabled until a legal opinion could be sought.

Substation bids
The bids for the proposed Boyne Falls Charlevoix County Sheriff substation must be taken again due to what one commissioner called “inequity” in the bid documents.

John Jarema
John Jarema resigned as the board’s civil counsel.

The board accepted Jarema’s resignation which followed a series of serious allegations levied by his chief-assistant prosecutor of bullying and retaliation in the weeks preceding.

The board discussed whether it should keep Jarema on until a replacement is found.

Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen said he hopes the board takes its time and finds just theright replacement rather than rushing the issue.

Charlevoix County Commissioner Richard Gillespie noted that Jarema’s resignation was immediate and he should not be kept on past that.

Charlevoix County Commissioner Bob Drebenstedt said the commission does not have surprises sprung on it as long as the proper procedures are followed.

Jarema’s resignation letter follows:

Charlevoix County
Board of Commissioners


The purpose of this letter is to inform the Board of my desire and decision to step down as Charlevoix County Civil Counsel, effective immediately. If desired by this Board so as not to have a gap in assistance, I am willing to stay onuntil a replacement attorney/firm is found.

I have been told to take a little time to reflect on this decision before I officially put it in writing but it is the right thing to do for several reasons. As I am presently short-staffed, I simply cannot devote the time to County Civil matters and give those matters the time and thought they deserve. Also, I have concerns regarding several criminal files that have been authorized through my office within the last few months. Those issues have yet to be rectified but I am seeking advice on how to deal with them appropriately. Once that process is determined, I may have to audit all the files in my office, which will be a time consuming event.

Please have HR post the position for Charlevoix County Civil Counsel immediately. I believe this board needs to decide whether they would require the attorney/firm to be present for the three meetings that I was required to attend monthly. That would certainly have an impact on the rate that the attorney/firm would quote for this position. For continuity, I would recommend Plunkett Cooney for the position, assuming they apply. They are our labor counsel already and do a fantastic job. I would certainly be available to help in drafting the job description for the posting if requested.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.


John A. Jarema

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