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Marenisco Township moves closer to police chief decision


September 10, 2020


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Marenisco — As of the end of August, Marenisco Township has been short a police chief, but Supervisor Richard Bouvette hopes that a new person will soon take on the role.

Former Police Chief Bruce Mahler is no longer in charge, as he left the job at the end of August after giving several months of prior notice.

Bouvette said Tuesday that Mahler now is taking a break before he assumes the reins as township supervisor. Having won the Aug. 4 primary unopposed, he will take over the job when Bouvette retires after the Nov. 3 election.

The supervisor added that three men are still being considered as Mahler’s replacement.

Interviews of those candidates took place just before Mahler left, although the then chief said he had not participated in the process.

Regarding the interview process, Bouvette said, “We conducted them, but we haven’t made a decision yet.”

The three applicants are Marvin Ceplina of Marenisco, Jason Roberts of Ironwood, and Jesse Yesney of Bergland Township.

Ceplina operates Milltowner Custom Trucking in Marenisco.

“He would have to go to school,” said Bouvette, who added that the township would have to pay for the required education, although it’s possible that the cost could be reimbursed or that a related loyalty clause could be included in the contract.

Moreover, said Bouvette, the necessity of Ceplina having to attend a police academy would mean that he could not possibly take over the job until at least June of 2021.

Board members agree, however, that Ceplina’s major advantage is his knowledge of the Marenisco area and its residents.

Jason Roberts of Ironwood would need less preparation time to begin the role as chief. “He is presently a police officer at Lac Du Flambeau,” said Bouvette, who explained that Roberts is willing to leave his Wisconsin job and move to Marenisco.

According to Bouvette, Roberts would need only a two-week class to get the necessary certification to practice law enforcement in Michigan.

The supervisor said Ceplina and Roberts also offer an additional advantage in that neither one needs the township to finance his medical insurance. Ceplina has his own insurance plan, and Roberts would be covered under his wife’s employment.

Not needing to pay insurance could save the township about $20,000, said Bouvette.

Jesse Yesney of Bergland Township is the final candidate. “He would be able to take over immediately,” said Bouvette.

However, the supervisor said it is not clear whether Yesney would be willing to leave his full-time job as a deputy with the Gogebic County Sheriff’s Office. Yesney also is one of Marenisco’s part-time winter officers who help to patrol snowmobile trails.

The supervisor also believes that Yesney may not be willing to move from his home in Bergland, which would make it difficult for him to respond to a problem in a timely manner if he does not already happen to be in the Marenisco office.

Although the former police chief previously had informed the board that it would need a full-time chief in order to qualify for grants and other government benefits, Bouvette said that is no longer the case because the state changed its rules in the past year.

“A part-time person can be police chief now,” he said, estimating that he anticipates the job will take about 24 hours per week. He said all three men are aware that the Marenisco opening is part time.

In the absence of a chief, Brandon Tauer — who, like Yesney, is one of Marenisco’s five part-time winter officers — is the interim chief. He is handling paperwork temporarily but did not apply for the job as chief.

In addition, members of the Michigan State Police and the Gogebic County Sheriff’s Office are doing courtesy patrols of the Marenisco region.

Bouvette said those patrols currently come at no cost, as those law enforcement officials perform the role as “part of their statutory duties.” He said Marenisco residents welcome their presence.

Ideally, Bouvette said he hopes the board will make a decision by the end of this month, but he added that he doesn’t expect someone to begin the new role until at least December.

Bouvette said he may call a special meeting to address the matter before board members have their next regularly scheduled session.

The board’s next regular meeting will be on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Marenisco Town Hall. Due to social distancing rules in relation to COVID-19, anyone wishing to attend should call the hall in advance at 906-787-2463.


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