Rebecca Pierce Editor
Heather Wing of Bellevue is the new chairwoman of the Barry County Board of Commissioners. Two nominations were made for the post – Wing and Ben Geiger – at the board’s 2019 organizational meeting Wednesday morning. A 4-3 vote for Wing removed Geiger from the county leadership role he has filled for two years. The vote was by secret ballot. Wing was nominated by Jon Smelker, a motion that was seconded by Vivian Conner. Geiger was nominated by David Jackson, with support from Dan Parker.
In the next action by the board, Jackson, who had been vice chairman, was replaced by Vivian Conner. Two choices were proposed for that role: Geiger nominated Jackson; Howard Gibson nominated Conner. In the 5-2 vote, Geiger and Wing voted for Jackson. But Jackson didn’t vote for himself. He voted for Conner, as did Gibson, Parker and Smelker. “These are the same seven people who were in office just a few weeks ago,” Geiger said during a break.
“This is going to be a very cordial transition, and anything I can do to help Chairman Wing succeed, I’m going to do.” In her comments last week about the year ahead, Wing was positive about the board’s accomplishments. “I think this commission has done well the last two years, and I think that the next two, if we can keep the ball rolling the way we have, we’ll keep getting a lot done.”Wing’s two daughters, who were in the audience, expressed pride in their mother being chosen to lead the board. They said she did not actively seek the role, but would not have turned down a nomination, which is how it happened.
Wing is from District 7, which includes Assyria, Johnstown, Baltimore and MapleGrove townships. Conner is from District 6, which covers Prairieville, Orangeville and part of Yankee Springs townships. After the voting was done, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull addressed commissioners during the public comment and praised the board under the leadership of Geiger and Jackson for working well with his department. He expressed the hope that the board, under the leadership of Wing and Conner, would continue to do the same. In other action, the board sets its meeting schedule for the year and approved appointments to committees. Parker offered to relinquish his post on the
Barry-Eaton District Health Department if another commissioner wanted to serve in his place. No one expressed an interest in filling Parker’s seat on the health department board. After a short break, the commissioners met in a committee of the whole session and heard a report from County Administrator Michael Brown on a grant application for $16,413 through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to cover the cost of education, communication and outreach regarding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in Barry County.
The grant amount is based on the number of registry identification cards issued or renewed in the county as of Sept. 30, 2018. With a Jan. 1 deadline for the grant application, the turnaround time to apply was short, so a grant application was submitted, Brown said. But the board’s formal approval of grant funding will be requested later this month when health department officials attend the