Pionk resigns from road commission Friday morning


September 29, 2018



BessemerGogebic County Road Commission Manager-Engineer Darren Pionk resigned Friday after being suspended earlier this month for allowing equipment and employees to be used at his residence for his personal benefit.

Gogebic County Board of Road Commission Chair Marti Wegner, of Watersmeet, said the vote to accept the resignation at a special morning meeting after a closed session was 5-0.

The road commission issued the three-week suspension on a 3-2 vote at a special meeting on Sept. 6, then met again Friday morning to chart its future.

Pionk had been previously required to turn in his keys and cell phone and stay off the road commission premises for the length of his suspension.

According to Wegner, “Issues had to be addressed” in spite of a body of excellent work. She stated that Pionk has helped the county secure more than $20 million in grants during his tenure.

In addition, Pionk put in a “superstar performance” marshaling state and federal government emergency assistance during the floods of 2016 that devastated portions of Iron and Gogebic County.

Wegner also highlighted Pionk’s “outstanding” budgetary talents and stated that Pionk “will certainly be missed, but that it was time to move on and move in a different direction.”

According to the minutes of the special Sept. 6 meeting, the discussion centered on a rental excavator from a private contractor that was transported to and from Pionk’s home, using road commission equipment and employees.

There was no rental agreement with the equipment owner.

Pionk has been with the road commission since April 2009 and was named 2017 Rural Engineer of the Year by Michigan’s County Road Association.

Patti Hagstrom has been working as interim manager during Pionk’s suspension.

Wegner said the road commission will advertise for applicants for the job. She said Phil Strong has been filling in for the engineering part of the job, with Hagstrom covering the finances.

The road commission board also advertised this week in the Daily Globe for a technician position held by Tom Leaf, who has retired, but has been filling in from time to time, according to Wegner.


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