East siders may recognize the Hertel name as Macomb County's former County Commissioner. Other's may recognize him as the head of the State Fair. Looking back at what he has accomplished in the past, I'm excited to hear that John Hertel has been appointed director of the Office of the Great Lakes.
Here's the full story from the Macomb Daily today;
By Chad Selweski, Macomb Daily Staff Writer
QUOTEJohn Hertel, who was credited with building a model anti-pollution program for Lake St. Clair, will be named today by Gov. Jennifer Granholm as director of the Office of the Great Lakes.
The office, located within the Department of Environmental Quality, sets policy on lake issues such as water quality, water diversion and the invasion of aquatic species such as zebra mussels.
"John has a long and proud history of being a true champion for the Great Lakes," Granholm said. "I know that he will work diligently to ensure that our Great Lakes are protected for our families and for our children for years to come."
Hertel, 56, will give up his position as general manager of the Michigan State Fair to take the $95,000-a-year job overseeing the lakes.
As chairman of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, a post he held from 1997-2002, Hertel won praise from environmentalists for protecting Lake St. Clair with a team of pollution investigators, an environmental prosecutor and a Water Quality Board.
"I care very deeply about the lakes, the condition of the lakes," said Hertel of Lenox Township. "In our discussions (with Granholm), it was clear that this is definitely a priority of her administration."
Hertel will oversee a staff of six and maintain offices in Lansing and Detroit. The job entails considerable diplomatic efforts working with the seven other Great Lakes states and Ontario to establish universal policies for the entire region.
Granholm said Hertel will play the lead role in preventing the diversion of Michigan's Great Lakes water to other states. He will also work with the Michigan congressional delegation to combat invasive species, and he'll oversee efforts to reduce the amount of toxins in the lakes.
Environmental groups welcomed Granholm's appointment.
"We look forward to working with him. The record he built in Macomb County shows a real concern about the environment," said Lana Pollack, president of the Michigan Environmental Council. "We anticipate a positive, active working relationship with that office."
Cyndi Roper, Michigan director of Clean Water Action, said the low profile that the Office of Great Lakes held in the Engler administration will change under Granholm. Her choice of Hertel, Roper added, shows that "a new day is dawning."
Hertel comes to the job with a considerable resume: former state senator, former professor at Lawrence Technological University, former TV commentator and producer, former Wayne County board chairman. He's a current member of the regional board that oversees the Huron-Clinton Metroparks and he's the breeder of award-winning Percheron horses on his Lenox Township farm.
The top Granholm supporter in Macomb County during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Hertel was rumored to be in line for a high-ranking job in the new administration. But Hertel was reluctant to give up his post as general manager of the Michigan State Fair, where he was generally credited with reviving the fair and eliminating the big financial losses of past years. He said Granholm may be several weeks away from naming a new fair director, but he anticipates a smooth transition.
Doug Martz, chairman of the Water Quality Board that Hertel helped create, said Hertel's new status should "open doors" and pay dividends for Macomb County and its ongoing efforts to clean up Lake St. Clair.
Martz said Hertel is a results-oriented leader who will prod every shoreline county to do its part to protect the lakes.
"He gave me a mandate to go out and do the job with a free hand," Martz said. "He told me, 'Don't listen to the politicians. Do what you think needs to be done.'"
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