By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
Charlevoix County’s new Prosecuting Attorney began his term in office this week.
Allen Telgenhof, who was elected by a more than 2:1 ratio back in 2012 officially began his four-year term as the county’s new top cop on Jan. 1.
“I hope to be a steadying influence in the office and in county government in general,” he said. “My entire career has been devoted to solving problems, not creating them, and I plan to continue this as prosecuting attorney.”
Telgenhof has chosen to retain all of the full-time prosecutorial staff currently employed by the county.
“Since the election, one support person moved and resigned and was replaced by a temporary worker,” Telgenhof said. “As you have reported, one attorney was fired and was replaced by the contracted worker who was hired during her leave of absence.”
Telgenhof speaks of former Chief-Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shaynee Fanara, who has filed suit against Charlevoix County and her former boss John A. Jarema—the former county prosecutor.
“The office staff will be myself, Mark Muniak—assistant prosecuting attorney for eight years, now promoted to chief assistant prosecuting attorney; Katrina Martin—assistant prosecuting attorney who I worked with for years in private practice; Kristen Herriman—child support specialist); Libby Mikulski—victim advocate and witness coordinator; Shana Reeves—administrative assistant; and, Mary Shepard—newly hired executive legal assistant, has worked with me for years in private practice,” Telgenhof said.
According to Telgenhof, he plans on maintaining consistency, fairness and confidentiality in his new office.
“Internally, we will follow the county’s employee handbook together with some policies specific to our office and the type of work we do, such as confidentiality,” he said. “Externally, we will have policies to ensure that charging and plea bargaining are done on a fair and consistent basis.”
Telgenhof said one of the major areas where he intends to focus on is communication.
“I will reinstitute monthly meetings with the police chiefs and sheriff’s department and to personally attend the regular meetings of the detectives, JOLT drug team and domestic violence task force,” he said. “I will also reinstitute an open door policy, especially with law enforcement.”
Telgenhof added, “It is so important to communicate, to be accessible and to be accountable.”
Telgenhof said he and his team will work hard to ensure any ongoing cases receive immediate attention to help usher a seamless transition.
“We are fortunate to live in an area that is such a beautiful, desirable place to live,” he said. “Our challenge is to keep that atmosphere and keep it a safe place to live an visit. We do this by being fair but firm when it comes to law enforcement.”
Telgenhof added, “I am excited about the new position and the challenges and opportunities it presents.”
While his term began Jan. 1, there will have a ceremonial swearing-in, that is open to the public, at 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 4, in the 33rd Circuit courtroom located in the Charlevoix County Building, 301 State St. in Charlevoix.