Pence to keep county job on monthly basis

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board with a 4-2 vote Wednesday night voted to keep Steve Pence as the county’s civil counsel representative on a month-to-month contract deal until the position is filled by another attorney or law firm.

“I believe that attorney Pence has indicated that he’d be willing to continue on a month-to-month basis until the dust settles here, and he certainly has represented us competently for the last three years,” Commissioner Stephen Adamini said.

At a November meeting, Pence, who initially requested a three-year contract extension in August, told commissioners he would continue to work as the county’s civil counsel until competent help was found after the board voted to seek other proposals for the job. Pence’s contract ended Dec. 31.

“We need competent civil counsel work here so we better do something,” board Chairman Gerald Corkin said. “We put (the position) out for proposals and heard comments that a lot of attorneys were interested in the job. We put it out for 15 days and got one proposal.”

Attorney Sean Fosmire, of Kitch Attorneys and Counselors in Marquette, was the only bid for the position at $144,000, which is $1,000 less than Pence’s annual payment. It was unclear if Fosmire was the sole bidder or if other attorneys from Kitch would be joining him. Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch said he would get clarification from the law firm regarding the matter.

Commissioners Bill Nordeen and Joe Derocha said they believe the position should be “in-house,” preferably operating under Erbisch’s office. Nordeen also stated that the civil counsel position should be a full-time job, rather than a part-time position, as it’s presented in the contract.

“I’ve said this before throughout the year … I think that position should be in-house for the amount of money we pay,” Nordeen said. “I think we should have a full-time person working eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.”

According to the application found on the county’s website, civil counsel candidates must have a law degree from an accredited law school and licensed to practice law in the state of Michigan. Qualifications include at least six years of progressive legal experience, including civil litigation, knowledge of municipal law and procedures, and the interrelationships of various municipal bodies, labor and employment law, contract law, administrative procedures, legal research and related areas. Experience with municipal utilities, aviation, environmental law, property negotiations, codes and health departments is also preferred.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.