Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Matonich to retire


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BessemerGogebic County Sheriff Pete Matonich announced Friday his intention to retire at the end of the year. A committee of county officials is forming to appoint an interim sheriff to complete his term expiring in 2024.

“It is with both excitement and fond sadness that I announce my retirement as sheriff of Gogebic County,” said Matonich in his announcement, noting his last day on the job will be Dec. 31, 2021. Matonich announced his retirement by email to the Daily Globe on Friday.

Matonich offered no details yet as to what prompted an early retirement after winning election to a third term last November. He was not able to be reached in time for further comment and the sheriff’s office voicemail noted he would be out of the office until Nov. 22.

“I truly appreciated working with Sheriff Matonich,” said Gogebic County Board Chair Jim Lorenson, adding that it will be difficult to replace him and offered best wishes on his retirement. He credited Matonich with leading the department with success through a period growth, and through difficult circumstances such as with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He is a very dedicated public servant and has always had the county residents at the forefront in looking out for their interests,” Lorenson said of Matonich. “You couldn’t ask for anyone better to be in that position. He is understanding and he is compassionate.”

A lifelong Bessemer resident, Matonich started out with the sheriff’s office as a road patrol deputy where he worked for 23 years. He was appointed sheriff in 2010 to complete the term of another retiring sheriff.

Matonich was then elected to four-year terms in 2012 and 2016 and to his third term last November 2020. Prior to becoming sheriff, Matonich served on the Bessemer City Council for 11 years.

A replacement sheriff will take office on Jan. 1, 2022. Michigan statutes provide for the procedure to replace an elected sheriff by an appointment committee to include the county clerk, county prosecuting attorney and county probate judge.

In this case the appointment committee will be Ramona Collins, clerk, Anna Talaska, probate judge, and Nick Jacobs, prosecuting attorney.

“We will start that process the week after next,” Collins said.

Collins said that the process will start with an advertisement for sheriff’s candidates. The window to identify and interview candidates will be short with hunting season and the holiday season, she said.

The appointment committee last formed to replace elected county treasurer Sue Pertile who retired in October 2017, a year prior to her term expiring, Collins said. Advertisements were submitted, applicants were interviewed and former family court administrative assistant Lisa Hewitt was appointed to complete the term expiring in 2018. Hewitt was then elected to another four-year term of her own.

Matonich said it was a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to serve the community in his capacity as a deputy and as sheriff.

“I want to thank the citizens of this great county for all of their support I have received over the years,” Matonich said. “My job was made easier by having such a professional and dedicated staff and continued support from the county Board of Commissioners. I am forever grateful to my wife and family for standing with me through it all.”

While he looks forward to enjoying his retirement, Matonich said he will miss the daily contact with the communities he served, the progress that has been achieved during his tenure and the many friends he has made.

Undersheriff Ross Solberg said outside of work on Friday that he was honored that Matonich had the faith in him to appoint him second in charge to help run the department in 2010. Solberg said he does plan to apply for the interim Sheriff appointment and then to run for sheriff in the next election.

Solberg described Matonich as a dedicated servant who for his entire law enforcement career has always had the best intentions for his employees and the citizens of Gogebic County. He had to make many difficult decisions over the years and he was never afraid to make the tough call, he said.

“It was my privilege to have worked side by side with him as his undersheriff for the past 11 years,” Solberg said. “I wish him and his family the best of luck with his retirement.”