Jessica Mathews /

The Livingston County Board of Commissioners will consider the recommended appointment of a new Health Department director next week.

Former Director/Health Officer Diane McCormick retired on July 1st. She recommended appointing Deputy Health Officer Matt Bolang to the position, who is the Director of Environmental Health and has already been serving as interim director.

The Personnel Committee met Monday night, which consists of Commissioners Martin Smith, Doug Helzerman, Mitchell Zajac, and Brenda Plank – who serves as chair. Board Chair Wes Nakagiri serves as an ex-officio member.

After months of discussion and a lot of back and forth about whether to appoint Bolang or hire a costly search firm for $21,000, the Committee is recommending Bolang be appointed. The motion passed in a 3-1 vote, with Helzerman opposed. He stated that he has changed his position and now favors a broad search.

Plank stated that she’s had opportunities to talk with Bolang about different things that have come up; more recently about the release of toxic chemicals in the Huron River but also Monkeypox and how that compares to what happened with COVID. She said he is very well versed.

Plank said she’s also heard from a great number of people in the County who have worked with Bolang and their responses were overwhelmingly about how knowledgeable and experienced he is. She went on to say “it’s not the good ole’ boys club” and she believes these individuals want to work with someone who is professional and understands the county, as well as the needs of the county, so she supports the resolution.

Commissioner Martin Smith reminded that the County contracts for a medical director, so they get the benefit of that medical expertise.

Commissioner Zajac commented he shared Helzerman’s perspective on the process, noting the board has tried at one point but a past vote to post the position for 30 days but it didn’t pass the board. In order to keep things moving forward, he said he supported the resolution.

Many residents, officials, and past and present county employees continue to speak out in support of Bolang. During call to the public, one told the board to “stop fighting” and go with the person who has been running the department for the past two months and is well-qualified, committed and professional.

A group of residents and parents, the majority opposed to COVID-19 protocols implemented during and following the pandemic, has been vocal about the search over the past few months. They continue to call for an “exhaustive search” for a candidate with a medical background that will fight against mandates issued by the state and federal governments.

Nakagiri offered an amendment to consider Bolang after an exhaustive search performed by Hiring Solutions, which failed.

The local Health Department never issued any orders or mandates for schools during the pandemic - which has now been declared officially over by President Joe Biden – and instead left decisions up to individual districts.

The resolution will be before the full Board of Commissioners Monday evening.