Emmet health board member 'incrementally less concerned about the future' of the department following special meeting – Petoskey News-Review

Emmet health board member 'incrementally less concerned about the future' of the department following special meeting – Petoskey News-Review

CHARLEVOIX — Board members for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan only made one major decision at their meeting Monday, and we don’t know what it was. 
The special meeting, which began at 4:30 p.m. at the Shirley Roloff Center in Hayes Township, lasted nearly three hours, but more than half of that time was spent in a closed session, which was entered into for the purpose of “attorney-client discussion regarding privileged written legal opinion.” Included in the closed session were board members, legal counsel, and deputy health officer Dan Thorell. 
They came back more than an hour and a half later with a motion “that the attorney be directed to pursue negotiations on ‘option one,’ based on parameters set by the Board of Health,” in the closed session. That motion, put forward and seconded by Emmet County Commissioners Charlie MacInnis and Matt Koontz, respectively, passed narrowly, obtaining the support from members Julie Powers, Otsego County; Shirley Rolloff, Charlevoix County; and Scott Hankins, Charlevoix County. 
But it remains unknown what that “option one” was. MacInnis said he was not able to reveal anything further, beyond the motion that was read during the public portion of the meeting. 
“All I can say is that (Health Officer) Lisa Peacock is on the job today doing her usual excellent work,” MacInnis said Tuesday, clarifying that that statement in no way was intended to give any indication of the content of the discussion in the closed session. 
Peacock has been a target of criticism amid the debate over school masking procedures and vaccination guidelines, and has reported feeling threatened by the public and unsupported by some members of the board of health since late last summer. 
Board members have previously attempted, more than once, to vote to remove her from her position. Amid the contention, multiple changes or potential changes to the makeup of the board occurred which had the potential to sway the possibility of such an attempt being made again in the future.  
As of the start of this year, the former chair of the board of health, Sharon Bargy, from Antrim County, was removed from the appointment by the Antrim County board. Bargy had previously voted against removing Peacock. 
Also this month, MacInnis, who has been supportive of Peacock, announced he was resigning from the board due to what he described as a dysfunctional and dangerous atmosphere. He reversed course shortly thereafter, remaining on the board. Both he and Koontz were appointed after two former Emmet County commissioners, who had been less supportive of Peacock, resigned. 
“I am incrementally less concerned about the future of the board of health and the health department,” he said after Monday’s meeting. “It is going to require continued diligence on the part of the Emmet County representatives, but I believe that especially with the ending of the mask mandates that the temperature may drop just a little, and we may see a slight improvement in the atmosphere.” 
He said he found the appointment to be “probably the worst,” he has had while serving on the Emmet County board. 
Peacock, herself, was not in attendance at the meeting Monday, citing concerns for her safety, according to an email she sent to the board members. 
“This elevated level of anger directed at health department staff has unfortunately become part of many of our days as we deliver news that people don’t want to hear such as the need for isolation and quarantine,” she said, encouraging board members to be mindful of their comments and avoid inflammatory remarks. 
Peacock’s office recently announced it would be lifting its mask mandate in schools, which will officially end today, Thursday, at 11:59 p.m. 

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