Raisin Township board selects interim superintendent

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The Raisin Township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 on Monday, May 12, to select Jim Palmer to fill a new position as Interim Superintendent. Palmer was one of two candidates interviewed for the position on May 8. Melanie Early, of Tecumseh, a former employee of Tecumseh District Library, was also considered.

In making a recommendation that he be hired, Trustee Debra Brousseau, who led a board committee that also included Trustees Larry Crittenden and Dale Mitchell, said Palmer stood out from the other candidates. Palmer has served on Tecumseh City Council, the Raisin Township Board of Trustees, and several Raisin Township Committees. He also served as Interim Township Supervisor for a brief time following the death of Carl Wagner, who had held the post for several years. He also works as a Real Estate Agent for Van Etten Company.

Prior to a vote, current Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh, who voted no, said, “I’d just like to make a comment that I personally have no personal objections to Mr. Palmer as an individual, but the fact that he was Interim Supervisor and also a Trustee and not successful in his election as Supervisor, I think there should be a little more discussion about why we’re bringing Mr. Palmer on as Interim Superintendent when the whole point of the position was to cross lines of the political divide. I just think that should be addressed.”

Just after Wagner’s death in 2012, Palmer decided to run for the position with less than a month to campaign.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but Jim did a write-in campaign and who knows what would have happened if he’d been on the ballot,” said Trustee Tom Hawkins. “He brings so much to this position for the township and I think he’s an excellent choice. I think we as a township are very fortunate to have a guy like Jim Palmer apply for this position.”

Brous-seau said the fact that Palmer had run for office should not preclude him from consideration and didn’t think there would be any question if it were someone else or if Palmer had run for a different type of office. “We selected him for his experience that goes way beyond any other application we received, so I think it’s kind of a disservice to use that as a reason someone shouldn’t be considered, especially someone who’s given a lot of time to committees in the township.”

There was also discussion regarding a transition period whereby Palmer and Cavanaugh would work together to discuss office space, duties, training and other matters. The board members agreed that the officials should have a week to work together and determine what needs to be done for the transition period.

Cavanaugh requested that he have access to a computer to maintain access to budgetary information and to perform his statutory duties as outlined by the Michigan Township Association.

“Although awkward, the ability for us to work together will not be a problem, I can assure you,” said Cavanaugh. “I would like to still have a computer to have eyes on the budget. I’m going to be the one people point to, not Mr. Palmer when the budget doesn’t look right. There are logistics to be worked out.”

Trustee Brousseau said she saw no problem in providing a week, and added if the board needs to assist with anything, it could become involved after that period.

“That will give you time to sit down and look at things for what will work best,” she said. “I would like to see the end result being that you become one of the township’s best ambassadors for us in promoting the things you talked about when you first took office. This is a great place to live. I know roads have been a passion for you, and this will give you time to work on the roads.” Brousseau added that the other township officials should provide support in that in order to see things operate in a “smooth and beneficial way” for the township.

Township resident Brian Kinney voiced an objection to the appointment of an Interim Superintendent, along with pointing out that he believes the township has wasted taxpayer dollars the past few years, especially for roads.

“Creating this Interim Township Superintendent position is just an appalling waste of taxpayer dollars,” Kinney said. “We have a perfectly good township supervisor who received a significant portion of the vote during the last election and a perfectly capable person to do the duties for this board. If that can’t happen, I certainly hope the people in this township remember that in the next election.”

The Interim Superintendent position was created for the remainder of the year.
Following the meeting, Palmer stated, “With the resident’s cooperation, we will all persevere.”




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