Community volunteer pens letter about reasons for her resignation from Orion Twp. committees

Dear Editor and my Fellow Citizens of Lake Orion,

I love Orion Township, I mean how can you not love living, where living is a vacation. I first moved to Orion Township in 2005, my eldest graduated LOHS in 2012 and my youngest will graduate in two weeks.

In 2016, I began serving on the Parks Advisory Committee and until recently was the Chair of the newly formed Parks and Path Committee.

In the fall of 2016, I asked Supervisor Chris Barnett if I could coordinate the new Slow Row LO paddling group and he agreed. That alone has provided me so much opportunity to get to know our community and be the face to visitors all through my love of kayaking and for that I am grateful.

In 2019 George Hanley somehow convinced me to serve on and co-chair the Environmental Resources Committee.

In early 2020 when COVID-19 hit, Chris Barnett asked me to help manage Lake Orion Cares and I did. I delivered food and other items to homebound, sometimes at my own expense when the request for help would come days before the next pantry truck was due.

Why? because I was raised to give back to my community. I don’t need recognition for my time or efforts I did it because it’s the right thing to do.

Therefore, it truly broke my heart to step down from my volunteer commitments last week.

When I went into the State of Township address and saw the vehement disregard for the current public health orders by witnessing the majority of attendees not social distancing nor wearing masks I was disheartened. The board may say this was out of their control, but a few weeks ago they passed a nonbinding resolution, thus in my mind giving the members of the community the green light to show up without masks. In the interest of my own health I decided to exit.

Honestly, I would have shrugged this off but as I made my way towards the exit I saw Jeff Stout, Director of Public Services, talking with a number of people with no mask. I call out Mr. Stout because he was the only staff person I saw without a mask. It became very clear to me that a public servant paid through our tax dollars was making a political statement on “company time” and that does not sit well with me.

To those who say it was only one, please consider that the majority of the staff in the Township are under his leadership. Staff who are required to wear masks while on duty. In my mind that sends a message, either that he is above the law and policies while his staff is not, or that wearing masks while on duty is optional.

I don’t like wearing a mask at work anymore than anyone else, but I do because I am bound to follow the law in my job. I hate that COVID-19 has divided us, and it makes me so sad that I live in a community who values politics over public health.

In closing, I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve my community in so many ways. It has filled my heart time and time again and for that I am eternally grateful.

Michele Arquette-Palermo

Orion Township


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