BESSEMER – The Gogebic County Board of Commissioners voted last week to appoint Peter Tacconelli of Bessemer and Whitney Vernetti of Ironwood to 3- year terms on the Board of Directors of the county’s Community Mental Health Authority in Wakefield.

The board also voted to reappoint three incumbents to the board: Joseph Bonovetz of Bessemer, who is also is a county commissioner; Carrie Braspenick of Wakefield; and Patricia Crabtree of Ironwood.

Bonovetz abstained on the otherwise unanimous vote.

The action followed a recommendation from the board’s Personnel and Negotiations Committee, which met directly before the board meeting on April 10.

Committee members interviewed the candidates during that time. Committee Chairman Daniel Siirila directed the interviews and pointed out that he also serves on the CMH board.
“It’s a pretty complex board,” he said and explained to applicants that the position would require related training and occasional travel out of the region.

Both new members said in their applications, and during their interviews, that their family members had used CMH services.

Tacconelli, who is also the mayor of Bessemer and has served on several other boards, said he especially appreciates that his late brother, who had Down’s Syndrome, had benefit- ted from Special Olympics opportunities.

Overall, said Tacconelli, “I know the importance and what it takes to take care of these people.” He said that, if appointed, he would strive to “make sure there’s nobody left behind.”

Vernetti said her son, age 13, who is disabled, uses CMH services. She said she has experience as a pharmacy technician and represents children in her job at the Western U.P. Health Department. She is also a member of CMH’s Consumer Advisory Council. Vernetti said she worked to convince Walmart to offer shopping carts for people with disabilities. She also is working with other community members to revive use of a duet bike that allows an able-bodied bike rider to include a person with disabilities on the ride.

After the meeting, Siirila said that “three or four different fundings” contribute to the complexity of serving on the 12-member CMH board.
He added that he nevertheless has confidence in the new board members. “I think they’re going
to do real well,” he said.

Two other persons from Iron- wood also had applied for the opening. They were Randy
Kasich of Ironwood, who was interviewed, and Kathy Koivisto, who had been scheduled for an interview but could not make it.

5 appointed to Community Mental Health Board