EagleHerald staff writer

STEPHENSON — The Menominee County Board struggled Tuesday to make decisions regarding the Menominee Regional Airport.

During the board meeting, the commissioners amended an action item on the agenda. Originally, Commissioner Larry Schei was to be appointed the point of contact for Mead & Hunt, the engineering company working with the county to develop the Airport Layout Plan (ALP). However, Schei resigned his position on the airport committee prior to the meeting on Tuesday, stating medical and personal reasons for his decision.

The action item was removed entirely, and the board did not name another commissioner as the point of contact with Mead & Hunt. 

The commissioners approved a motion to continue using the temporary part-time office person, provided by Manpower, until a full-time manager can be hired. 

The motion was approved on a 5-3 vote, with commissioners Schei, Bill Cech, Bernie Lang, Gerald Piche and Steve Gromala all voting in favor. Commissioners Larry Phelps, Jan Hafeman and John Nelson voted against it. Commissioner Charlie Meintz was not present and was excused from the meeting.  

There was some disagreement among the commissioners on the necessity of continuing to employ the part-time person. Hafeman said she does not believe the airport can afford to continue keeping the part-time person. 

Lang said “we run every department in the county on a shoestring,” and every department is understaffed. 

The commissioners discussed the plan for hiring a full-time manager in the future. Some commissioners believe that it is a necessary future expense to help run the airport effectively. Others were less supportive of the notion, and said they believe it is an unneeded extra cost. 

Nelson said the airport can function properly with the current staff in the county administrator’s office. “I believe administration should be able to do it,” he said, adding that Delta and Dickinson counties’ administrative departments run their airports. “Attend a few less meetings and just do more work.” 

Schei says the airport costs the county $200,000 a year to operate, before hiring more staff. “We have one full-time employee with benefits that is running the whole thing,” he said. Schei said he believes that more staff could be added to the budget. 

No agreement on hiring a new manager was made Tuesday.