Commissioners pick Lawson for District No. 8

ALPENA – The Alpena County Board of Commissioners listen to brief introductions from the three men who hoped to replace Commissioner Rick Fortier who died earlier this month, and Eric Lawson of Sanborn Township was unanimously selected.

Lawson said he is open minded, flexible and able to deal with constructive criticism and take direction well. He said his time working as a professor in music has helped him operate budgets as well as deal with people. After the vote he said he is ready to get to work and to help finish some of the work Fortier and the rest of the commissioners have begun.

“I think right now I’m appropriately nervous because there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of committees that need someone to take them on,” Lawson said. “I know Rich was very active in many of them and filling his shoes is going to be hard, but I’ll do my best.”

Before the candidates were interviewed Commissioner Mark Hall explained that an election will be held for a permanent replacement for Fortier will be held in August. If the primary race is a contested race then a final vote will take place in November’s general election. Hall said there is also a bill passed in the Michigan House of Representatives that would tweak the election requirements after a serving commissioner is lost. The bill hasn’t been passed by the Senate as of yet and Hall said he doubted that if it did pass it would be retroactive. He said he is confident an election will need to be held. Lawson said he intends to run to keep the seat.

Lawson said there are some exciting possibilities for Alpena County. He said the possibility of having Alpena and the state being designated a Center of Excellence for unmanned aircraft training and testing, as well the promise of economic development in the area, makes it a good time for everyone who lives in the county.

“It isn’t only an exciting time for me, but I think it is for everybody in the county,” Lawson said. “We need to make sure we make the right calls on things that could affect the future and I have a lot of work to do to get up to speed, but I will be working hard and learning a lot in the next few weeks.”

In other business:

* Commissioner Lyle VanWormer said the request for proposal for the management position at the Northern Lights Arena will go out next week and proposals will be accepted until April 18. The Park Family Foundation and Synchronization’s Management will continue to serve as rink operators until June 30.

* the board agreed to accept a $12,000 bid from Huron Engineering & Surveying to do work on the land at the airport the county wants to develop. A bid from Wilcox & Associates for the same amount was accepted by the finance committee in January, but only a day after Wilcox went out of business and its former employees locally started Huron Engineering & Surveying.

* the commissioners voted to hire Mark Gurisko as the county’s 911 director. Gurisko has been an interim in the position since former director, Mike Szor, retired.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at