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Franchuk joins county commission

Deputy Sheriff Dean Franchuk took his seat on the Stark County Commission for the first time Tuesday morning. Franchuk won the district three seat in the November election after Duane "Bucky" Wolf decided to step down after 16 years on the board....

Deputy Sheriff Dean Franchuk (far right) assumed his newly-elected role as a Stark County Commissioner Tuesday morning. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press
Deputy Sheriff Dean Franchuk (far right) assumed his newly-elected role as a Stark County Commissioner Tuesday morning. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press

Deputy Sheriff Dean Franchuk took his seat on the Stark County Commission for the first time Tuesday morning.

Franchuk won the district three seat in the November election after Duane "Bucky" Wolf decided to step down after 16 years on the board. Franchuk has worked for the sheriff's department for five years now during which time he began attending meetings and learning more about the inner workings of the county.

"I'd just like to thank everybody for the support they gave me in the election, and I'm looking forward to working with the residents of the county and making sure that things get done the way that the majority of the county wants," he said.

Commission chairman Russ Hoff said that Franchuk is a strong addition to the commission but noted that he has large shoes to fill.

"I think Dean will be an asset to the commission," Hoff said. "It's a learning process, it really is, and I think Dean will do just fine."

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The commissioners divvied up the committee assignments before the meeting and gave Franchuk his assignments during Tuesday's meeting. He said he was not consulted about those decisions beforehand.

Commissioner Ken Zander asked about Franchuk's status seeing as how he is a full-time county employee as well as a commissioner.

"My understanding was from him that he was going to be using his personal off time and his personal vacation time to cover any commission duties whether it be commission meetings or community meetings or whatever, and that's basically what I believe had to happen," said Tom Henning, the county's state's attorney.

Henning also added that whether Franchuk attends commission meetings or events in uniform is a decision left up to he and Sheriff Terry Oestreich. Henning also noted that Franchuk's employment by the sheriff's department does pose a direct conflict in the commission's dealings with that entity. As a result, he will abstain from those decisions.

"I have my own personal issues with that," Zander said. "I think I've told Dean too. We're elected to make decisions and vote. We're not elected to abstain."

Henning said that the board had dealt with similar conflicts of interest in the past. If Franchuk chose to abstain, then the three other commissioners would vote. The chairman is only supposed to participate if his vote is needed to break a tie.

Hoff also pointed out that the commission can also decide if they would like Franchuk to abstain from a vote.

"I don't think that is going to be an issue," Franchuk said. "That was discussed before I even put my petition in. I discussed with the state's attorney about a conflict on it, and I met with him since because there were some issues brought up again this week that someone was questioning it. I talked to him again, and there shouldn't be an issue with it."

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He pointed out his experience working for the sheriff's department as well as his 28 years working for the state highway patrol and his insight into dealing with truck regulatory enforcement, the road department and permitting.

"I would think it would be a benefit to them to know that they actually have an insider into what goes on in law enforcement," he said.

City proposes amending planning contract

City Administrator Shawn Kessel also presented at the meeting. He proposed a joint powers agreement relating to the planning contract that the city and county have shared for the past several years.

"The nature of this joint powers agreement is changing because I think it's the intent of the county to have planning services in the future, and the city of Dickinson is downsizing our planning department," Kessel said.

The agreement would reverse the roles in the current planning contract so that the city would then contract these services from the county, he said. Kessel has met with several of the county commissioners to discuss the proposal, and asked that the county planner would dedicate 10 hours a week to the city - preferably eight hours on Wednesdays and two hours on another day.

The city would maintain an office for the planner at city hall to work in on Wednesdays, but the planner could work the remaining hours at their county office. The city would then pay the salary and benefits for the planner during those times.

The commission opted to wait on making a decision until after they had filled the planner position - which they are close to doing, Hoff said. Kessel said that the city had not yet approved the contract and would wait to vote on it pending the county's approval. The county will revisit the proposal at their Dec. 27 meeting, so, if approved, the city will address it at their first meeting in January.

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