BEULAH — A Benzie County official who received three traffic citations from a sheriff’s sergeant while en route to a meeting to discuss sheriff’s department personnel matters resolved the issue.
Administrator Chris Olson was ticketed Feb. 15 for disobeying a stop sign, failure to signal and failure to display a valid registration. Benzie sheriff’s Detective Sgt. David Tucker stopped Olson on U.S. 31 and Highland Drive in Beulah.
Olson contested the tickets. His attorney reached a compromise with Leelanau County assistant prosecutor Doug Donaldson, who handled the matter as a special prosecutor. Olson ultimately received citations for impeding traffic and defective equipment, with fines and costs that totaled $350.
“Unfortunately, it occurred. I don’t want to speculate as to motivations,” Olson said.
Olson attended a county Board of Commissioners just after the ticketing incident, a meeting called to discuss topics including the undersheriff’s future pay; a secretary’s wages and hours at the sheriff’s office; union membership of a 911 supervisor position; and health insurance costs for four county employees, including Tucker.
Tucker, the husband of Benzie Commissioner Lisa Tucker, is expected to be the county’s next undersheriff. He hasn’t accepted the job pending clarification on his ability to revert to a union position if necessary and retain benefits, Sheriff Ted Schendel said.
Commissioners agreed to set the future undersheriff’s salary at $51,000 a year, a salary above that of a sergeant.
Olson said he recommended the board not approve Schendel’s request that Tucker receive overtime and other benefits, which he said strayed from applicable statutes and case law that define the position of undersheriff.
“I’d say we have differences of opinion on a number of matters that include allocation of resources and other pertinent matters related to the business of accounting,” Olson said of the sheriff’s department.
Olson’s driving record also includes 10 speeding tickets since 2007, according to Michigan Secretary of State records.
Sheriff Ted Schendel said Olson’s tickets that day were coincidence.
“He was just doing his job,” Schendel said of Tucker. “My take on that is if you’re going to be attending a meeting where the county decides if you might get a raise or not, why would you stop someone, write a ticket and try and circumvent that?”
He continued, “Mr. Olson has no say in the matter whatsoever. As far as what the sheriff’s office gets, it’s completely up to the Board of Commissioners.”