County approves two exceptions to hiring freeze for prosecutor’s office

(Photo by John Deacon|American Courthouse Photo Archive)

The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners Tuesday approved two exceptions to the county’s hiring freeze to fill vacant positions in the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.

Newly elected Prosecutor Dave Marvin requested approval from the commission to hire attorney Gary Gabry as chief assistant prosecuting attorney. “I wanted to let the board know this is what I consider to be an absolute necessary and emergency position,” Marvin said.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the prosecutor’s office was down to just two assistant prosecutors from what would traditionally be four, according to Marvin, and in lieu of hiring two assistant attorneys at this juncture, he said his priority was filling the chief assistant vacancy.

“I want people to know how lucky we are to have Gary, especially in light of what’s needed to turn things around. […] Gary for weeks now has been in Zoom hearings watching, observing how things are done in the various courts, he’s already been here to the office several hours already, meeting people and becoming acclimated.”

The commission approved the prosector’s request to hire Gabry, as well as a request to hire a document imaging coordinator/secretary. Gabry comes to the county with a wealth of experience, having previously served as Ionia County’s prosecutor for two terms, as well as President of the Michigan Prosecutors Association, and is a Chair-elect of the Criminal Law Section of the Michigan State Bar. Gabry is a Kalamazoo Hackett High School and University of Michigan graduate, with a Juris Doctorate (Doctor of Law) from the Detroit College of Law.

In other business the commission…
•Approved the renewal of grant writer James Hissong’s services agreement, who brought in roughly $2.2 million in funding for the county in 2020.

•Adopted a resolution to appropriate funding to Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services ($257,268) in quarterly transfers of $64,317 in January, April, July and October of 2021, as well as a resolution to appropriate funding to Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency($307,700) in quarterly transfers at the direction of the of the agency.

•Set dates for its 2021 executive and regular meetings, and made several appointments the Community Corrections Advisory Board.

Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor of Watershed Voice.