Vacancy filled on Grayling Charter Township’s Board of Trustees
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A lifelong Grayling resident was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on Grayling Charter Township’s Board of Trustees.
Trustee Dennis J. Long resigned from his position effective May 15 after serving the township for a decade and a half.
“The past 15 years have been amazing,” Long said in his letter of resignation. “I take a great deal of satisfaction in having had the opportunity to work with such a great group of township officials and employees. I am very proud to have been part of such a dedicated group of individuals and of the accomplishments achieved for our citizens.”
Long, who had a year and a half on his unexpired term, said it was simply time to bring in a new member to the township board.
“After four terms, while extremely proud that the voters have trusted me to represent them, the time has come for me to step aside and make way for new energy and ideas,” Long said.
Long, a retired City of Grayling police officer, previously served on the Crawford County Board of Commissioners and Crawford County Transportation Authority Board of Directors.
Grayling Township Supervisor Lacey Stephan III praised Long for his service and dedication to the township.
“Dennis was a great asset, especially with his state connections and military connection and he was always really involved,” Stephan said.
Joe Smock, Marc Dedenbach, and Bruce Zalobsky applied for the open position and were interviewed by a review committee.
Dedenbach is a member on Grayling Charter Township’s Planning Commission, and Zalobsky is a former member on the township’s board of trustees.
Smock was appointed to the board on June 19.
“He impressed everybody and the review board when he interviewed and it was a unanimous decision with the review committee,” Stephan said.
Smock was appointed primarily based on his background with the military. He retired at the rank of master sergeant from Michigan Army National Guard and is a former government employee who worked at Camp Grayling’s Maneuver and Training Equipment Site (MATES).
Township officials are currently dealing with residents impacted by Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which has contaminated their water wells. The chemical leached into the water from Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting foam used by the military and firefighters at the Grayling Army Airfield.
Closing ORV trails on military land is also an issue the township board is working on.
“They all figured Joe would be the best thing for the board right now, especially with everything going on with the military and shutting down the trails and so and so forth,” Stephan said. “The committee thought it was time to get somebody that knew how the military operates.”
Smock was humbled to accept the position. He has served on the Crawford County United Way Board of Directors and has been a Grayling Little League and Grayling Redskins football coach.
“I just thought it was time to do my civic duty,” Smock said. “I’ve been involved in many different aspects of the community, and I thought this would be a new challenge. I’m very honored that they selected me and I’m look forward to working on some of the tough challenges ahead.”
Smock’s wife, Karyn Rauch-Smock, was a teacher for the Crawford AuSable School District for 27 years.
“I feel I have a very good grasp on what goes on here in all areas of the community,” he said.
Smock plans on running on the 2020 election ballot to keep tabs on the health and safety of area residents with the PFAS contamination.
“I want to stick with it. I don’t see this PFAS thing is going away anytime soon. I actually don’t see things getting any better anytime soon. We’re going to have more houses affected,” Smock said. “I want to see that out and I think it’s going to be a few years out.”
Another issue Smock hopes he can help address is the repair and maintenance of roads within the township.
Smock also wants to study the issue of road ends on local lakes when it comes to property owner’s rights and people using the areas to access the water and for recreational purposes.
“That’s always been a topic that sometimes gets hot for a few years and then goes away,” Smock said.