Grand Traverse Co. Commission Meets To Discuss Future Plans For Administrator

A week after suddenly losing yet another county administrator to resignation, the game of musical chairs continues for the Grand Traverse County Commission.

A week ago Wednesday , former Grand Traverse County administrator Vicki Uppal resigned due to “personal family issues,” effective immediately.

The board approved unanimously, then met Wednesday night for a study session to talk about what happens next.

“I think the most important component for the county board of commissioners is really to have agreement on the process at the very beginning,” says Jean Derenzy, interim county administrator.

Back to square one — again.

Commissioners brought back questions and concerns from last week, including a new take on the vetting process.

“I think we are going to be able to take our time and sit here and vet it,” says Dr. Bob Johnson, commissioner. “The most ridiculous thing that we did was give them questions ahead of time.”

Derenzy says the suggested move in the meantime, split the pressure.

“We are really looking internally to help the day-to-day of the administrative team,” Derenzy says. “The undersheriff and Chris Forsyth, our civil council, agreed to work with the county board to ensure that the day-to-day operation continues and they would be the interim administrators.”

It’s an idea received well by the others.

“I think it’s going to be very significant,” says Sonny Wheelock, commissioner. “It’s going to make our life a lot easier throughout this whole interim period because, on a good day, it’s going to be at least four to six months before we have an administrator, in-house.”

“Instead of looking at one person, you kind of get the best of both worlds,” Johnson says.

The next idea, bring back Gov-HR, the firm that vetted applicants last time.

“Part of their contract is to come back and do another search for us if it wasn’t successful the first time,” Derenzy says.

“We have to tell them more about the kind of people we want,” says Cheryl Gore Follete, commissioner, “We have to tell them we want more people. We need to not give as much authority to them as we gave to them.”

That meeting will be next week.

Meanwhile, the public warns that it’s OK to think it over.

“Good luck,” one man said during public comment. “Remember, you want to get someone in place, but you don’t have to do it quickly.”