Habermehl named board chair for 7th year

ALPENA – The Alpena County Board of Commissioners held its annual organizational meeting and for the seventh straight year Cam Habermehl was voted as chairman. After Habermehl accepted the nomination Lyle VanWormer was approved as vice chair, as well as chair of the finance committee.

County Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs conducted the meeting until after the vote that appointed Habermehl the chairman once again. Habermehl said he is honored the other commissioners think highly enough of the job he has done to continually elect him as chairman.

“I’m glad they think the county is going in the right direction and I guess it means they think I’m doing a good job,” Habermehl said. “We have a good board right now and the new members have really stepped up to take a leadership role and I just really think we work well together.”

Habermehl said there were few changes to the structure to how the county’s government is set up. He said many of the committees have the same commissioners on them as in 2013, but there could be some shuffling later if need be or if conflicts in schedules arise.

He said he has confidence in all of the committees that make recommendations to the county because of the work the commissioners do to staying abreast on issues. He said the commissioners are more hands-on today than what they were in the past when a county coordinator did a lot of the leg work for the board.

“I think a member of the public can come up to any of us and ask us a question about pretty much anything having to do with the county and we will know the answer,” Habermehl said. “We all know what is going on and we need to know what is going on. All eight commissioners are involved in every aspect. We do our own research, which is the way I think it really should be.”

Jeff Kowalski and Bob Adrian will join VanWormer on the finance committee, with Habermehl being the alternate and Mark Hall will continue as chairman of the personnel committee with Scot McKenzie and Tom Mullaney. Habermehl and Eric Lawson are the alternates.

VanWormer and Habermehl will continue to serve on the Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Management Authority board and Mullaney, Adrian and VanWormer will form the airport committee.

The IT committee will be chaired by Kowalski, with Habermehl and Hall for all technology matters, while the insurance consists of Hall and Habermehl, with Adrian the chairman.

Several of the commissioners also serve on Alpena County Intergovernmental Council committees. Mullaney sits on the communications committee, while Jeff Kowalski represents the country on the air/water committee. Eric Lawson is on the intergovernmental roads committee.

Habermehl said 2013 was an interesting year. He said there were some challenges, but there also were some high points as well.

“We had some good and bad, but that is to be expected,” Habermehl said. “I think 2014 is going to be equally as interesting and busy. I think we will continue to see growing development on M-32 and we intend to move full speed ahead to develop the land at the airport. We may not have gotten a center of excellence test site, but we still plan to move ahead with unmanned aircraft business. I can see things really opening up for us this year and a lot of big things happening.”

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