BOC pulls appointment to VA committee

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

BELLAIRE – After hearing biting criticism during public comment regarding its March 7 decision not to accept the Veterans Affairs committee's recommendation for a new member and, instead, appoint someone else, the Antrim County Board of Commissioners failed to support a motion to appoint and confirm that appointment during its evening meeting on Thursday, March 21.

The controversial vote, taken during the March 7 meeting when vice-chair Karen Bargy was holding the gavel in the absence of board chair Ed Boettcher, said that the appointment process had been handled incorrectly during the previous meeting. 

Bargy requested that she make the appointment of Calvin Shooks and that the board ratify her appointment.

The motion to confirm the appointment of Shooks, a Central Lake resident and Vietnam veteran, came at the tail end of a lengthy meeting during which a number of other business items were discussed, including news that the roof of the former bank building the county purchased less than two years ago suffered expensive water damage over the winter.

Both Barb Bradford, a longtime member of the Antrim County Planning Commission, and Jeannette Hayes, widow of longtime Veterans Affairs Committee member Mike Hayes – who passed away in December – noted their displeasure with the board for overriding the recommendation of the VA committee to appoint Libby Hiser, a Gulf War veteran and resident of Bellaire, to the committee.

If appointed, Hiser would have been the committee's only Gulf War representative, and first woman to ever serve on the committee.

"You ripped up long-held policies and threw them away," said Bradford, who thanked Commissioner Bargy for her motion on March 7 to appoint Hiser, which failed by a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners David Heeres, Terry VanAlstine, and Dawn LaVanway voting against the appointment. Commissioners Brenda Ricksgers (who left the meeting early), Josh Watrous and Jason Helwig, as well as board chair Ed Boettcher, were absent from the meeting for that vote.

Directing her remarks to the other board members – which on March 21 were once again short due to the absence of LaVanway and VanAlstine – Bradford, whose husband was a decorated veteran said, "Shame on you. You took the legs right out from under everyone on the committee. The way you handled this was wrong."

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