Six applicants vying to fill vacancy on Crawford County Road Commission
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Six applicants are vying for a vacancy on the Crawford County Road Commission Board.
The vacancy is to fill the unexpired term for Jim Burtch, who passed away on December 5. He was 85.
Burtch had served on the road commission since 2003, with many of those years as chairman of the board.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, at a meeting held on Thursday, January 9, interviewed Dennis Neering, Ronald Larson, Roger Popp, Dave Church, James Hulbert, and Darryl Babbitt to fill the vacancy.
Burtch’s unexpired term runs through the end of 2020.
Neering, a retired manager of a power plant downstate, said he would like to give his input to help Crawford County.
“I want to be involved in the community,” Neering said.
Neering said he could deal with criticism when makeing tough decisions on how road projects and funding formulas are selected.
“Every experience is different and you have to weigh which way to go,” he said.
Larson is a former Crawford County Road Commission employee.
He said he would like to see more focus on grading and maintaining side roads during the summer, and making extra passes for snow removal during the winter.
“I think there is a lot of work to be done,” he said. “I’ve been there and worked there.”
Popp, a retired engineer, applied for a position on the road commission last year, but then withdrew his name from consideration.
Since then, Popp has worked with Road Commission Managing Director Donald Babcock on data he has gathered about the condition of roads in the county. His input has made some changes on the five-year plan for road upgrades.
“There is still more to do, and I can do that as a commissioner,” Popp said.
Church worked for 30 years for the Michigan Department of Transportation focused on materials and technology.
Church said he would file to run to continue on the road commission when the deadline for candidates comes on April 14.
“I would take a year to get up to speed, and I would see what happens,” Church said.
Church has previous experience on a board as member of the Beaver Creek Township Planning Commission, which would help him as a road commissioner.
“I don’t plan to be a yes man, but I don’t plan to be a nuisance either,” he said.
Hulbert said he considered applying for the road commission last year, when Scott Hanson and Cris Jones were appointed to the road commission board.
Hulbert retired from working as a social worker and is not planning to run again for the position he holds on the Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education.
“I’m a team player and I think I can contribute,” Hulbert said.
Hulbert said he does not have any agenda for applying for the road board.
“I don’t have any axes to grind,” he said.
Babbitt studied to become a civil engineer focused on repairing roads and bridges in college. He changed his course after earning his master’s in business administration degree.
Babbitt said the health and welfare of residents and people traveling on the roads should be factored into planning road repairs and maintenance projects.
“A lot of it depends on how many people live on that road and the safety aspects,” he said.
The maintenance manager at the Arauco North America plant in Grayling Charter Township, Babbitt said he would have plenty of time away from his job to attend road commission meetings.
“They look for opportunities to be part of the community,” he said.
The county board plans to make the appointment to fill the vacancy at its next meeting, which will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 23, at Kirtland Community College’s Grayling campus, located at 4800 W. 4 Mile Road.