It wasn’t quite business as usual Monday night when the outgoing Orion Township Board of Trustees met for the final time.
Though business was conducted, there was also a lot of appreciation for the three outgoing board members, in particular Supervisor JoAnn Van Tassel. Even the man who won her seat, new Supervisor Chris Barnett, had kind words.
“You have been an invaluable asset to our community over the last 30 years,” he said. “And I want to publicly say that every person up there has been very open to me in this transition. … It’s to the benefit of our entire community that every one of you have sat down with me and gone over things, as well as our department heads. …
“The bad news for you, JoAnn, is I came across your home phone number. I might be using that a little bit.”
“I just hope you keep them in mind when you see your desk tomorrow,” Van Tassel quipped.
Resident John Hart said he’s known Van Tassel since he moved to the township in 1975. “Many people may not know all the things you have done,” he said. “Your wisdom cannot be compared to any others. … I make a motion, if it’s legal, that we name something after you. … I’m very proud to know you.”
Trustee D’Arcy Gonzales, who filled a vacancy on the board for five months and did not run for election, presented Van Tassel and outgoing Treasurer Alice Young with flowers. Young, who served eight years as treasurer before being ousted in the August primary, announced that she’ll go to work at The Athena Group, a Rochester accounting firm owned by her daughter-in-law. She thanked voters for not re-electing her.
“During those eight years I haven’t taken so much as a week’s vacation,” she said. The new job “is a lot less stress than this job and I will get my evenings back. … I’ll be able to take vacations, I’ll be able to spend more time with my grandkids.”
Van Tassel recalled her career dating back to 1976: seven years as a trustee, two stints as supervisor and eight years as manager of the Village of Lake Orion.
“It has been my pleasure and my honor to serve the people of Orion Township,” she said. “There have been many challenges and many rewards. And the best rewards are meeting the people of this community and working with them to address the challenges. ….
“People have asked me what am I going to do. The first thing I’m going to do is go clean the house,” she continued. Then choking up just a bit, she said, “I’ll reintroduce myself to that four-legged kid I live with who’ll be very happy he won’t be as much of an orphan as he has been.”