by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously during a Special Meeting on Monday, Feb. 26 to hire Mike Herendeen as part-time county coordinator. Herendeen is currently employed by the county as an assistant prosecuting attorney, and he is also the Middlebury Township Supervisor. As of Monday, March 5, Herendeen will vacate his position with the prosecuting attorney’s office and assume his new position as county coordinator. He will maintain his elected office in Middlebury Township.
The commissioners have been mulling the decision to hire a part-time coordinator since first discussing the matter during their Jan. 2 organizational meeting. They got to work later that month formulating a candidate description, and a committee comprised of commissioners Jeff Bartz, Dan McMaster and Jeremy Root was then assembled to handle the candidate search.
The county posted the position, but drew only modest interest. The hiring committee conducted interviews, and the overwhelming opinion of the commissioners was that the best candidate was already employed by the county. The commissioners have been picking up the slack in the absence of a county coordinator/administrator since December of 2014, when county administrator T.J. Clark was fired for improper use of county funds, so the current board welcomes Herendeen as the “missing piece.”
“The county is on the up-swing, and we have righted the ship over the past couple years,” commissioner Root shared recently. “We (the commissioners) have all taken on additional responsibilities to make up for not having a coordinator, and we have been pretty successful in doing so, but we all agreed that now is the time to take the next step and add that final piece.
“Now, instead of department heads needing to track down a commissioner or seek outside legal advice when questions arise, we will have a person in place who everyone can go to for answers,” Root continued. “I think everyone is relieved to have someone in that role. We have been able to overcome not having a coordinator, but this will improve the efficiency of all the county departments. Instead of department heads having to figure things out for themselves, we will now be able to work more cohesively towards our common goal of continuing to improve the county.”
Root noted that Herendeen was clearly the board’s best candidate for the position. He shared that Herendeen’s experience as an administrative law judge at the state level, and as the past president of the Michigan State Police Troopers Association union were two key factors in the hiring. Additionally, Herendeen has regularly attended board meetings over the last several years and routinely provided the commissioners with legal advice and explanations, so the mutual comfort level between the two parties was also a factor.
Herendeen’s contract is for three years, he will make $69,000 per year with no benefits, and he will work 30 hours per week. The Monday, Feb. 26 vote included six of the seven commissioners, with Gary Holzhausen absent. Also approved during the meeting was the hiring of Casey Wilder as the board’s executive assistant.