By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer
The Byron Village Council voted during their Sept. 1 special meeting to accept the resignation of Department of Public Works (DPW) Supervisor Mike Granger, less than a month after accepting the retirement of Police Chief Tim Sampey. Granger’s 32 years with the village will come to an end Sept. 9. Trustee Janet Cole and President Kit Brunell were the two dissenters to the motion to accept the resignation, which passed by a 5-2 vote.
Granger turned his resignation letter in to the village office on Monday, Aug. 31,
and it comes after months of contemplation by the longtime village employee. President Kit Brunell informed the council that Granger “wanted to quit six months ago,” and that she had to “talk him into staying.” Granger said in his resignation letter that he “can no longer be associated with a council that is so misinformed and destructive towards its village and its employees.”
“I used to love my job, but the five council members made it intolerable for me,” Granger said later. “They want to micromanage everyone and they don’t know the first thing about running a village. They have no business sitting in those chairs. They all have personal agendas.”
In addition to blaming the council for “running another employee out of town,” Brunell also presented the council with a 10-page packet of job duties and certifications needed to run the village’s DPW. She cautioned the council against thinking that a suitable replacement can be found easily before Sept. 10.
“Honestly, I’m disgusted with this council that this had to go this far, and that Mr. Granger has had to deal with this for so long,” Brunell said during the meeting. “I agree with some of the council members that there have been some issues with Mike, but I personally feel that the last year has been a headhunting situation with many employees, some of whom have left already. I don’t think you will find anybody to replace Mike in the quality of work he gave to this village. We have to have something in place by the time he leaves to take care of our water and sewer. As of Sept. 9, I’m going to be buying bottled water.”
Trustee Vicki Bessenbacher replied that the village “would be fine,” and that the council just needs to post the job. Village attorney John Gormley reiterated Brunell’s point that someone will have to take over Granger’s job duties on Sept. 10, and he suggested that the village look to neighboring municipalities for possible shared service options in the interim. He mentioned Bancroft and Morrice because he has knowledge of their DPW certifications, and the council members also tossed some ideas around during the ensuing discussion. Trustee Ron Berecz was tasked with exploring the possible options.
Brunell had mentioned during the meeting that several council members are responsible for “running village employees out of town,” and it appears that the next employee that is in the council’s crosshairs may be Clerk Marsha Reed. Trustee Hugh Miller questioned Brunell and Reed about the timetable concerning the handling of Chief Sampey’s retirement badge, which was apparently received by the village office on July 14, but was not presented to Sampey during his retirement party on Aug. 10. Miller stated that he did not even know that the badge had been received until Aug. 18, when he personally paid for it at the village office. Miller and Brunell could not agree on the issue, but Reed felt that she had been called a liar during the discussion and defended herself strongly during the council comments section near the end of the meeting.
“I would just like to say that I never lied to you (Miller),” an emotional Reed said. “When I said that I never saw the badge, I never did, and I was out of the country. I’m not a liar! You guys, all you want to do is break this town up. You’re doing a bang-up job. I just hope you guys can live with your conscience.”
Miller never received a satisfactory answer to his questions about the badge, as Reed said that she did not receive the badge and Brunell said that the mixup occurred because there was confusion over who would pay for it. The council had initially voted to pay for the badge, but Shiawassee County Commissioner Jeremy Root had informed them that the action was illegal. Miller then offered to cover the expense, which totaled $56.90. Miller was also upset that the badge was mailed. He intended to present the badge to Sampey personally, but Brunell and Sampey had previously agreed that the badge would be mailed. Miller still hopes to publicly honor the chief in the near future.