2009-01-08 / Front Page

Nellist, Schneider to chair board

Ed Nellist of Dist. 1 and Bob Schneider of Dist. 3 were elected chairman and vice-chairman in 3-2 votes at the 2009 organizational meeting of the Roscommon County Board of Commissioners Wednesday.

Nellist was elected chairman over freshman Dist. 2 Commissioner Ken Melvin, who was nominated by incoming Dist. 5 Commissioner Pam Stephan. Melvin seconded his nomination. Nellist was nominated by Schneider, with support from Dist. 4 Commissioner Marc Milburn. Schneider won the vice-chairmanship over Stephan, who was nominated by Melvin and supported her own nomination. Schneider was nominated by Nellist, with Milburn's support. Nellist will chair the commission for two years, and Schneider was elected to a one-year term as vice-chairman.

Representing Lyon, Lake and Markey Townships, Nellist had been vicechairman since May, 2007. As chairman, he succeeds former Dist. 2 Commissioner Larry Mead, who lost his bid for reelection to the commission last year. Schneider, who represents Richfield, Au Sable and Backus Townships, was appointed to the commission in 2007, elected to a partial term later that year and won a full two-year term in the 2008 election.

In other business, commissioners held a lengthy discussion of health insurance benefits for retired county road commissioners. Road commission Manager Tim O'Rourke told commissioners the road commission declined to make a recommendation on whether Mead, who left the road commission in 1996 and retired as a county commissioner last month, and George Pappas, who remains a road commissioner, are entitled to the benefits. Last month, county commissioners authorized the road commission to determine the level of health insurance benefits to be provided for Mead and current commissioner George Pappas.

O'Rourke Wednesday said state law does not allow road commissioners to determine their own benefits. County commissioners in 1988 approved health benefits for retired road commissioners, but in 1992 rescinded that benefit for future retirees, leaving Larry Mead and George Pappas as the only eligible road commissioners. Prosecutor Mark Jernigan recently ruled Pappas and Mead are still covered by the 1988 motion.

"I don't know if this board should really make a decision on this," county commission Chairman Ed Nellist said during Wednesday's discussion. "...Put it before the judge and let him decide." He suggested taking action at next week's regular meeting, but Commissioner Ken Melvin said the board should make a decision sooner. Commissioners went into a public recess session to further discuss the issue. They were still in session at press time Wednesday afternoon.

Commissioners decided to continue publishing synopsis minutes of their meetings in the Resorter. They agreed to Milburn's suggestion that on divided votes, the synopsis should include a listing of which commissioners voted "yes" and "no."

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