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Local

Bureau County Board says 'no' to Stark County EMA

But says yes, unanimously, to courthouse workers contract

PRINCETON —A split Bureau County Board rejected on Tuesday an intergovernmental agreement between its emergency management agency and Stark County's EMA.

With a 13-12 vote, the board denied a deal that had been months in the making.

Before the vote, Bureau County EMA Director Keenan Campbell, who has spent months negotiating and putting together the agreement, highlighted what the deal would mean for counties. It would have assisted Stark County in building its EMA program to help maximize its funding.

"The intention of this agreement is for Stark County to stand on their own and have a viable program in the near future, with our assistance," Campbell said.

Stark's program has no certification with the state. It lost its director a while back, Campbell said, due to a conflict of interest. The County Board there then hired a part-time employee to oversee operations, however, Campbell said, he's not an EMA drector.

"The program is faltering because he can't keep up with the demands of emergency management," he said.

Bureau County Board members shared a variety of concerns with the contract, including the risks and legal responsibilities the county could incur during a disaster.

Board member Micah Robinson also questioned the current controversy with Stark County's poor financial state and leadership issues from two board members who were set to resign from at their meeting Tuesday.

Bureau County State's Attorney Geno Caffarini also pointed out unknowns that could happen if disaster was to strike in both Bureau and Stark counties, and the liability Bureau County might face with the actions taken in response.

"The issue I had with the contract was, What are you getting to answer to the people of Bureau County? What are you getting by entering into this agreement? That's the issue I've always had with the agreement," he said.

Board members who voted against the agreement included Jim Donarski, Marsha Lilley, Keith Cain, Bob McCook, Chris Maynard, James Thompson, Micah Robinson, Tom Dobrich, Deb Feeney, Paul Humpage, John Baracani, Jane Piccatto and Mary Jane Marini.

Board members who voted for the agreement included Connie Stetson, Mike Kohr, Bob Albrecht, Dan Rabe, John Jacobs, Ralph Anderson, Loretta Volker, Kristi Warren, Marshann Entwhistle, Derek Whited, Dale Anderson and Robin Rediger.

Board member Heather Thacker was absent from the meeting.

In other news, following a closed session, the board unanimously approved the Teamsters contract with courthouse union members, which is retroactive to Dec. 1, 2016. The board also unanimously approved the same salary increases to non-union employees, retroactive to Dec. 1, 2016.

Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus information about the salary increases could not be released to the public until the contract was signed. She said she anticipates being able to release the figures by the end of the week.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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