Grand Traverse County

Morgan Springer

Following two suicides at the Grand Traverse County jail, county leaders are focusing their attention on mental health services there. That will likely mean the county will spend more money on the jail. In a meeting last night, mental health stakeholders suggested some improvements.

Peter Payette

Plans for a mixed-use development next to the Meijer store in Acme Township may finally be moving forward. The 157-acre “Village at Grand Traverse” has been beset with problems since it was built by Acme Township.

Grand Traverse County

Leaders in Grand Traverse County will wait until a new administrator is hired before they decide how to spend a budget surplus.

The county’s finance director says there’s about an extra $8 million in the budget. The money comes from increased property tax revenue and unforeseen savings in employee health care and the removal of the Boardman River dam.

David Cassleman

Democrats have struggled to find candidates to run for office in Grand Traverse County. 

In recent elections, Democrats let most seats on the county Board of Commissioners go unchallenged. 

Aaron Selbig

A 36-year-old female prisoner, Marilyn Palmer, was found dead in a Grand Traverse County jail cell Wednesday night. This is the second death at the jail in the past year.

Kate Teegardin, Flickr

Over the last three years, many of the Grand Traverse County’s top officials have resigned or been fired, and the county is now looking for its fourth administrator since 2015.

Much of the turmoil stems from the county’s pension debt – the amount of money the county has promised to retired employees. Right now, Grand Traverse County doesn’t have enough money to cover the pension debt.


Grand Traverse County

To an outsider, Grand Traverse County is a picture of success. New homes and businesses are popping up all over Michigan’s third-fastest growing county, and property values are on the rise.

But insiders describe a county government in chaos.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

On Tuesday, The Watershed Center said Grand Traverse Bay was officially frozen. The official designation happens after West Bay is frozen from Traverse City to Power Island for more than 24 hours. Even though that's only a fraction of the bay, that's been the official measurement for over a hundred years.

Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper at The Watershed Center, says the bay didn’t freeze over the last two winters – not since 2015. She says, since 1990, it has only frozen between 20 to 30 percent of the time.

Aaron Selbig

A special prosecutor will handle a jail suicide case in Grand Traverse County. The state attorney general has appointed the Antrim County prosecutor to take over.

Alan Halloway hanged himself in the Grand Traverse County jail last summer. An investigation by Michigan State Police found that corrections officers violated multiple policies and procedures. For example, it took officers three hours to find Halloway dead in his cell; they were supposed to check him every hour. 

Grand Traverse County

The administrator for Grand Traverse County abruptly resigned Wednesday.

Vicki Uppal served as Grand Traverse County administrator for only four months. She took over for Tom Menzel in September, and quickly began shaking things up in the county leadership. 

Grand Traverse County

The Grand Traverse County prosecutor wants an outside attorney to handle a county jail suicide case. Alan Halloway hanged himself in the jail this summer.

Prosecutor Bob Cooney is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to appoint a special prosecutor, because he says he could appear impartial in the case.

Cooney has advised the county in a lawsuit related to the suicide, and he was the one who charged Halloway with attempted murder this summer.

This summer a man hanged himself to death in the Grand Traverse County jail. Officers found Alan Halloway dead in his cell in July. It took three hours for corrections officers to discover his body. Officers were supposed to check Halloway's cell every hour, but did not do so, according to a report by the Michigan Sheriffs Association.

 


A fired employee from Grand Traverse County has been offered the position of Emmet County administrator. Jennifer DeHaan served as deputy administrator for Grand Traverse County until the county's new administrator, Vicki Uppal, asked her to resign or be fired for “poor performance.”

DeHaan refused to resign, saying the county's issues with her were political and not about performance. She was fired last month.

Commissioners voted 5–2 to offer DeHaan the administrator position last Thursday.

Grand Traverse County

The family of an inmate who committed suicide in the Grand Traverse County jail claims county officials knew the jail posed a suicide risk for inmates but did little to fix it.

2017 northern Michigan election roundup

Nov 8, 2017
Sam Cordon

Please note, these are unofficial election results.

Traverse City commission:

Traverse City commissioner Gary Howe has lost his seat in a tight race. Brian McGillivary, a former Record Eagle reporter, has won a spot on the new commission. 

Morgan Springer

In Traverse City’s East Bay, on the busy hotel strip on U.S. 31, is Don’s Drive In. The pink and turquoise restaurant is known for its burgers and shakes and the fact that it’s kind of old school.

Grand Traverse County

Three volunteer members of Grand Traverse County's Pension Advisory Board submitted their resignations Monday.

The county has a pension debt of more than $50 million. The advisory board is working to identify ways to reduce it and present those findings to county commissioners.

In their letter of resignation the citizen members – Christopher Radu, Robert Zimmerman and Michael Gillman – say, "our recommendations have been solicited, but appear to be ignored."  

Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County Administrator Tom Menzel announced his resignation last month.

When Menzel was hired in 2015, he had a reputation for righting the financial ship at the National Cherry Festival and Bay Area Transportation Authority. Grand Traverse County commissioners hoped he would do the same for the county.

He immediately started making moves, but some of them – like asking county employees to pay more for their health and retirement benefits – have met with resistance.

It’s a new year, and the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners has a couple of new members – and possibly a new direction. The change comes at a time when the county is facing financial problems – including a pension debt of more than $50-million dollars.

In its first meeting last week, the board elected Commissioner Carol Crawford to lead them into the new year.

Green Party wins Grand Traverse County seat

Nov 9, 2016

Grand Traverse County has a new commissioner from the Green Party. Tom Mair won the seat with 53 percent of the vote.

He ousted incumbent Christine Maxbauer, the chair of the Grand Traverse County board. She received 46 percent of the vote.

"I'm actually pretty surprised," Mair told Interlochen Public Radio early Wednesday morning.

Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office

Last week IPR News Radio reported that police in Michigan are responding to many more incidents today than a decade ago, and they’re doing it with fewer officers. Part of the problem is not as many people want to be police officers these days, and it’s especially hard to hire new officers in northern Michigan.


Grand Traverse County

Judge Philip Rodgers announced his retirement from the 13th Circuit Court this week. Rodgers presided over many big cases in northern Michigan, including the fight over a nine-story building in Traverse City.

In a letter announcing his retirement, Rodgers thanked the attorneys he's worked with over the years, calling them “the most interesting and humorous people in the world.”

Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office

Police all over Michigan have a lot more work to do these days. The number of incidents they respond to are up, but the number of officers is down in most places. That’s in part why the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office has asked the county for funding to hire five new deputies in 2017. But an audit presented to the county board of commissioners last night says that’s not a good idea. 

 


Aaron Selbig

Grand Traverse County Commissioner Christine Maxbauer was sentenced Monday to a year of probation for drunk driving.

Maxbauer pleaded guilty to the charge. She said she drank a bottle of wine at home July 7th before driving to her sister’s house because of a family emergency.

Maxbauer was arrested by Traverse City police after she hit a parked car on Front Street. Police measured her blood-alcohol content at 0.16 percent – twice the legal limit.

In court, she apologized for what she called “poor judgment.”

Veterans Administration

A new project aimed at improving veterans’ health care has the support of Grand Traverse County. County commissioners passed a resolution tonight supporting Project Cherry Tree, a group that wants to connect local veterans with local health care services.

Right now, many veterans have to drive to Saginaw or Ann Arbor for medical care.

Leaders of the new project want to connect veterans with health care services closer to home. The group also wants to provide educational and job opportunities.

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