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A legacy lives on: County surveyor takes over for father

Published 9:10am Monday, April 21, 2014

For newly appointed Cass County Surveyor Thomas Stephenson, the reason for applying for the vacated position last month was quite simple.

“I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, and keep his legacy going, basically,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson’s father, Roger, had served as the county’s surveyor for more than 10 years. However, the 71-year-old died on March 2, while serving his third elected term in office.

Shortly thereafter, the younger Stephenson made the decision to continue in his father’s footsteps, submitting his name to the committee that was formed to appoint a successor.

The committee, comprised of Cass County Probate Judge Sue Dobrich, County Clerk Monica Kennedy and Prosecutor Victor Fitz, announced their decision to appoint Stephenson to the position last week.

In many ways, the lifelong Cass County resident is the ideal choice for the position. Stephenson had worked alongside his father for nearly his entire life, helping him with his surveying work since he was 8 years old, he said.

In 1990, the elder Stephenson formed his own company, Stephenson Land Surveying, where Thomas went to work after graduating from Ferris State University in 1999. In 2012, he and his wife, Diane, purchased the company from his parents.

His father was more than just Thomas’ boss and mentor, though, but also his best friend, Stephenson said.

“He was like an oracle of knowledge,” Stephenson said. “I could always go to him with any questions I had about the job. Even though we may not have always agreed on the answer, he always gave me another way of looking at my problems.”

Today, Stephenson performs surveying work in nine counties across Michigan and Indiana, specializing in boundary surveys, he said.

“My work has been great to me so far. If it wasn’t, I would be doing something else with my life right now,” he said. “I love it. I get to visit somewhere new almost every day because of this job.”

Stephenson currently resides in Jefferson Township with his wife and two children, Morgan and Cade. Stephenson also serves on the Cass County Survey and Remonumentation Board as well as the Jefferson Township Zoning Board.

As the head surveyor in the county, Stephenson’s main responsibility is leading the county remonumentation program, working with other surveyors to identify the county’s nearly 200-year-old corner monuments, which signify property lines, township boundaries and other borders. The county is placing metal markers to indicate these corners, using funds collected from the register of deeds office.

“We have about 20 percent completed as of this year,” Stephenson said. “We have quite a long ways to go still.”

Stephenson will be up for election as county surveyor this year, he said.

 

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