Morren, Morgan Keep Top Kent Spots

January 11, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — County commissioners easily retained their leadership last week, but struggled with an appointment to the Agricultural Preservation Board.

Commissioners returned David Morren and Roger Morgan to the posts of commission chairman and vice chairman, respectively. Morren and Morgan have been in those positions since 2003 and both will serve for the calendar year, which is also the county’s fiscal year.

“For myself, I consider it a pleasure to serve as chair,” said Morren.

Morren and Morgan are Republicans and both were re-elected by unanimous votes.

But filling a spot on the preservation board didn’t go as smoothly. By a four-vote margin, 11 to 7, commissioners appointed Brent Beuschel to the panel that chooses which farmland acres to preserve under the county’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) ordinance.

Commissioner Dick Bulkowski led the resistance to Beuschel’s appointment. Bulkowski said Beuschel didn’t go through the standard interview process and was nominated for the board solely because he is a “loyal Republican.”

“What we have here is the political process at work,” said Bulkowski, who suggested Bill Hersch, a Gaines Township dairy farmer, for the spot. But his attempt to replace Beuschel with Hersch fell four votes short.

Bryan Harrison, Gary Postma and Commissioner Gary Rolls also were appointed to the preservation board. The trio and Beuschel will join Dennis Heffron, Jim May and Thomas Nederveld on the panel.

Rolls will chair the board, replacing Commissioner Jack Horton. Horton, who felt the county should at least partially fund the matching portion of its PDR program, voted “no” on the appointments vote. He said his vote was in protest of the way the procedural process “broke down” this year.

Last month, the county’s Finance and Physical Resources Committee rejected a proposal to fund the PDR program. Committee Chairman and County Commissioner Art Tanis said it was unlikely the county would ever commit tax dollars to preserve farmland.

Commissioners also reappointed Amway Grand Plaza Hotel President Joseph Tomaselli to another four-year term on the Convention and Arena Authority board. Tomaselli and past county chairman Steven Heacock represent the county on the CAA.

Nadine Kline was sworn in as commissioner for the 19th District, which includes portions of the cities of Kentwood and Grand Rapids. Kline is the only new board member following the November election. She replaced Kenneth Kuipers in the district.    

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