Fitzgerald to retire as drain commissioner

Mecosta County Drain Commissioner Jackie Fitzgerald looks through her files on the proposed Ives Drain. Fitzgerald has decided to retire and will be spending her time helping with her mother and her family’s assisted living facility in Tustin. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — After more than a decade serving as the Mecosta County Drain Commissioner, Jackie Fitzgerald has decided to move into retirement.

Semi-retirement, actually.

Fitzgerald provided a letter of resignation to members of the Mecosta County Board of Commissioners at their most recent meeting on May 16, after deciding it was time for her to retire. Her last day will be Sept. 30.

“I’ve been planning retirement for a while now, so it wasn’t a sudden decision,” she said this week. “Part of it is I’m retiring to help take care of my mother. We also own an assisted care facility in Tustin as a family business. I’m already helping there, so this will allow me to be more of a partner in that business and help take care of those already living there.”

FITZGERALD

Fitzgerald said retiring will give her time to focus on taking care of her loved ones.

“The drain commissioner’s work is very demanding and intense,” she said. “With the facility and home life, I want to be able to take care of my husband and my mom. My dad and sister passed away a year ago, so I want to make sure my mother is taken care of.”

Beginning her employment as the deputy drain commissioner in 1996, Fitzgerald took over as drain commissioner in 2009.

Fitzgerald said she is happy with what has been accomplished over her tenure as drain commissioner.

“I think I’ve done a lot of good things,” she said. “It’s not always been popular, but I’m happy with the way I’ve done my job.

“I love my job, there’s no doubt about it. It gets crazy and intense, but it’s also very rewarding and I’m very truly honored to be the drain commissioner for Mecosta County.”

Over the years of following specifications of the Drain Code of 1956, the drain commissioner’s office is responsible for constructing, repairing and maintaining the county’s 39 drains, while inspecting and maintaining seven lake level structures, while serving as the county’s enforcement agency for soil erosion and sedimentation control.

“It gets busy in a lot of ways,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m actually very much looking forward to retirement.

After more than two decades in the office, Fitzgerald said she is very proud of the relationships created with residents who need drain work and the many contractors who have walked through the office’s door at the Mecosta County Services Building.

“God has something else for me to do now,” she said. “Honestly, I think it’s a blessing that I got this job and the experiences I’ve had. But there’s something else for me to do and that’s to take care of my mom.”

Set forth in the Drain Code, an appointment committee comprised of Mecosta County Clerk Marcee Purcell, Probate Judge Tyler Thompson and Prosecutor Brian Thiede will determine who will serve as the next drain commissioner.

Purcell said the committee met this week to discuss the plan and process.

“We will be scheduling our next meeting and at that time we also will include those interested in serving as the drain commissioner to be there,” she said.

The committee will appoint someone to begin the job on Oct. 1. They will serve the remainder of Fitzgerald’s term, which will be a little more than a year before the next election, Purcell said.

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Posted by Brandon Fountain

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