Mackinac County Commissioners
Outgoing county commissioners Oliver House and Lawrence Leveille received appreciation from their colleagues on the Mackinac County Board of Commissioners Thursday, December 27, which constituted the last meeting of the board of commissioners before some new members were to take over in 2013. The commissioners accepted certificates noting their dedication, which described their time as “excellent service…unselfishly given.” Mr. House served two years on the county commission. Chairman Leveille served eight years, including two as chairman. All told, Mr. Leveille has served 48 years in Mackinac County, including five terms as the Mackinac County sheriff.
“I’ve enjoyed our time together as a board, both on the professional level and the personal level,” Commissioner Jim Hill said. “We’ve had our differences as we’ve gone along, but the board members seem to be able to put those differences behind them and move on…We were commissioners but we were also friends.”
Mr. Hill acknowledged Mr. House for his willingness to take on difficult projects and see them through, an initiative that “made our lives much easier,” he said.
Mr. Hill formally thanked Mr. Leveille for his two years as board chairman and his decades of service to the county. He is retired from 40 years in law enforcement. He served 20 years, from 1984 until 2004, as the county sheriff.
“Having that experience on the board has been invaluable,” Mr. Hill added.
Commissioner Diane Patrick thanked her colleagues for a job well done.
“You are really going to be missed,” added Commissioner Calvin McPhee.
Mackinac County Sheriff Scott Strait called the completion of Mr. Leveille’s term “the end of an era” and praised his service to the county both as a commissioner and sheriff.
Hudson Township Supervisor Al Garavaglia, who attended the meeting, also acknowledged their service.
“I was impressed,” he said. “I knew our county would be your main goal.”
Mary Swiderski and David Sudol have replaced the outgoing commissioners.
The commission accepted the resignation of Donald McArthur, who served 10 years on the Mackinac County Planning Commission.
Mr. McArthur resigned via a phone call to Mackinac County Clerk Mary Kay Tamlyn. His service ended Thursday, December 31.
“He just feels it’s time for him to go and the planning commission doesn’t have anything to do right now,” Ms. Tamlyn said of Mr. McArthur’s stated reasons for resigning.
Mr. McArthur noted difficulty in seating planning commission members from the western end of the county, the area where he lives, she added.
“He was hoping that we could find a replacement from the west end of the county,” Mr. Hill said. “He said he would start looking into it, and I said I would, as well.”
“I was on the board 10 years. I was on when it first started,” Mr. McArthur told The St. Ignace News. “We set up to meet every three months. I felt like we had everything done we were asked to do, and I couldn’t see wasting $500 a month looking for something to do.”
“Mackinac County is unique,” he added. “That’s one of the reasons we put so much time into it.”
Among other matters, the planning commission was asked by the county board to make a recommendation on spurring economic development efforts in the county in the last two years.
Mr. McArthur said that the planning commission is charged with a difficult task because the county spans roughly one-third the area of the Upper Peninsula and includes “three different cultures” with different interests: the east end, the west end, and the more-highly populated middle section that includes the city of St. Ignace.
“It is hard to do something that is agreed upon by all three,” he explained.
Among his accomplishments, he cites help with creating the master plan. As his biggest challenge, he cited frustration with economic development efforts.
In other business, the board noted “great sadness” as it honored the accomplishments of Ronald Mitchell, who served the community in many capacities, including 23 years as board chairman of Mackinac Straits Hospital and its successor, Mackinac Straits Health System.
Mr. Mitchell died Friday, December 14, after a battle with cancer.
Commissioners passed a resolution honoring his service, which they described as “caring compassion for the citizens of the great County of Mackinac.”