QUINNESEC - After much public comment and in a five to two vote, Breitung Township Board of Trustees granted the township treasurer an unpaid leave of absence.
Dawn Thurston, township assessor and resident, urged to board to grant the leave.
"She devoted most of her life to this place. I am asking the board to reconsider," she said. "She has done everything she could possibly do for this township."
Breitung Township resident Rita Luri asked the board to put aside their harsh feelings and do what is best for the township financially.
"If there were two years left, I could see the stages of going through it (with appointing someone), but there is only a few months left," she said. "Let Anne go out gracefully and Johanna fill the position for less money."
Durl Bradley of Breitung Township said he agreed with Luri.
"I would like to see harmony on the board again," he said.
A few residents said they didn't think it made sense to appoint someone for just 11 weeks, when a new treasurer would be elected.
"I think that whatever is going on with Cahee should be aired at regular board meetings and not at special 7 a.m. meetings," said Breitung Township resident Ben Peterson.
Anne (Cahee) Ethington, township treasurer for 32 years, asked the board on Monday to grant a leave of absence. She said this was her third time asking for this request.
"I have a letter dated June 18 that I can't work full-time or part-time. I have been working six or seven hour days, starting at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. I can't do it anymore," she said. "My body is deteriorating."
Trustee Mary Beth Dixon said her concern was with Cahee's replacement.
"We as a board should have a discussion on how to fill her position," she said.
Supervisor Denny Olson said all of this started in late August when Cahee wanted to resign as of Aug. 31 at 4 p.m.
"It shocked me, so John Gaudette, Anne, myself and Joe Rogina talked about this," he said. "I brought up her working one more week through Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. and then resigning."
Olson said if a CPA came in and took over, that would require board action and deputy treasurer Johanna Provost would stay on as the CPA's deputy.
Olson said this is what the township was going to do until Cahee decided to take a leave of absence rather than resign.
"This is what I tried to do as supervisor - a plan that would work well for the township," Olson said.
Cahee remains as a candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot, along with Carol Taylor.
Johanna Provost lost the primary and is running as a write in candidate.
"I personally could not justify appointing that person to be treasurer when people already spoke during the primary," Olson said. "This is the path of how it started the last week of August."
Cahee said she went to Olson and told him she wanted to resign.
"I didn't know there was another option. Taking a leave of absence was brought to my attention, so my deputy could step in," she said. "It's the end of tax time... I could simply have been done. That was the best approach to have my deputy take over and that was the best option to save the township money."
The board in a five to two vote accepted the treasurer's agreement for a voluntary leave of absence.
Olson and trustee Russ Garrett voted against the motion.
The treasurer's request is effective as of today.
Cahee's deputy, Johanna Provost, who was appointed by Cahee, stays on in the treasurer's office until the voters decide on election day who should take over on Nov. 20.
Township Clerk Samantha Coron, who started with the township as Cahee's deputy, thanked Cahee for her years of service.
Olson said that after almost 10 years on the board, he and Cahee had some differences, but "we were right there fighting together. Thank you for your many years of service."
In other action, the board:
- Presented Zach Kemnitz a plaque of appreciation for earning Eagle Scout after completing his project at the township cemetery.
- Approved the draft copy of the master plan prepared by the planning commission with the assistance of CUPPAD. This is the township's official planning document.
- Approved the millage rate of 4.2 mils on form L-4029, which is required to be filed by Sept. 30.
- Postponed the assessor's request to attend the tax tribunal trial for Home Depot in Lansing Sept. 27-28 and possibly Oct. 1. Cost would be $3,600 which includes travel, meal, lodging and expenses. The issue will be discussed at the Sept. 24 board meeting.
Olson said Van Sickle Drive was paved Monday. State Street is being done today and then Wabash Street and Clark are next before shouldering is done. Repaving of Becker Drive is complete, he added.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.