County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Sheriff Provides Update, Lauds Employees

Central Dispatch Logs 16,288 Incidents Year-to-Date


HARRISON – In Sheriff John Wilson’s report to the Clare County Board of Commissioners at the June 21 meeting, he noted that to-date Central Dispatch had logged 16,288 incidents, and that his department had handled 9,177 of those.

“We have 63 local, 50 feds in the jail,” Wilson said. “Lori [Phelps] and I met with both Farwell and Harrison superintendents to adjust the amount they were paying.”

He pointed out that one school had been served for 14 years without an increase, and that both were open to the increase in school officer cost.

“They squared it away and put the rates at what it costs to put the liaisons in there for the nine months of school,” Wilson said. “It’s just an in and out, and it’s no cost extra to the county to have them in there [which it had been previously].”

He said Farwell Schools would be getting Deputy Brian Berg, who Wilson said had worked at Clare Police Department and has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience.

“He’s a detective,” Wilson said. “And he really wanted to get in there and do it, so he’s going to Farwell. Mike Heugel, my deputy of the year last year, has agreed to do it for Harrison Schools – also a young guy going in there. We need some solid people in there to be proactive and not be just a reactive type person.”

The sheriff said the department’s three new deputies are halfway through their field training program and are all progressing well.

Wilson said he has been getting lots of positive feedback about the parking lot and how nice it looks, as well as for the additional parking spot.

The sheriff also said he and the administrator are looking at some different parking to solve the problem faced by people who have mobility challenges who need to access the main entrance to the Sheriff’s Office. Wilson said he had brought up the issue before, but it had never really been looked at.

“It’s like we have to do something for these people so they don’t have to walk half a mile to come in my lobby,” he said. “So we’re working on that right now to see if we can’t do something different.”

The sheriff then said he wanted to welcome Dawn Baxter who had just been hired to replace Deb Kenworthy who would be retiring shortly. He also spoke of a new operator in Central Dispatch who would be going into Shadow Phase for two weeks, which means he will work alone while being monitored in the background. Wilson said testing is going on for the last position in Dispatch, which after that position is filled will be up to full staffing.

Wilson also informed commissioners about the new patrol boat and praised Fussman Designs of Clare for its excellent job of lettering.

“It’s out on the lake, Rod Williams is running that,” he said. “Rod does a lot for this county, not just for me but for other things, and I really appreciate him.”

The sheriff also informed that Duane Bean, who has several years in law enforcement, is handling ORV things on weekends.

“We’re sending the two Humvees we got years and years ago back to the military,” he said. “We don’t use them; they run but there’s a lot of mechanical problems and they’re very costly. It’s not worth keeping them, so we’ve got to ship them back to Columbus, Ohio.”

He then noted the auction at his department would be held Aug. 26, purposely planned to coincide with Harrison Street Fair in the hope that auction attendance will increase.

“We’re selling stuff; Senior Services and some other entities are putting some stuff in it,” Wilson said, adding with a chuckle. “And if you see the tent set up there – Brian Tomaski likes to set it up 6 years before we have an auction – I don’t know why he does that.”

Wilson said that, of course the tent is set up to start accepting auction items, and that Norm Yoder would be serving as auctioneer.

“You know in August we’re going to be up to full staff,” he said. “I get shivers thinking about that because we haven’t been up to full staff on the road in four or five years.”

Wilson said that in talking with other sheriffs, Shea in Gladwin or Main in Mount Pleasant, and they’re four to five people down. He said he believed that targeting local people has really helped the effort.

“All three of these are local guys, and I think it will help us if we continue to do that.”

Administrator Phelps added that not only did the department target local guys, but then had received grants to send those recruits to the schooling enabling them to become deputies.

“Which was really helpful,” she said.


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