Jones resident replaces retiring road commissioner

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The newest leader with the Cass County Road Commission is no stranger to the snow that has coated local roadways the last several days.

Jamie Stafne

Jamie Stafne

Cass County native and longtime Jones resident Jamie Stafne was appointed late last month to serve as the newest county road commissioner by the Cass County Board of Commissioners. Stafne replaces outgoing Leroy Krempec, who retired after seven years with the commission at the end of December.

Stafne was voted into the position by a vote of 6-1 by the county board during its last meeting in Cassopolis.

The local business owner and manager with Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area was one of the top applicants during the county’s search to fill a vacancy on the road commission in the fall, a position that eventually went to Edwardsburg’s Robert Thompson.

Growing in Marcellus and Jones, Stafne has spent most of her life living in the confines of Cass County. A 1988 graduate of Marcellus Community Schools, Stafne studied business at Michigan State University, graduating in 1992.

While spending several years working in real estate development and doing nonprofit work, Stafne has spent much of her life working for Swiss Valley, which has been owned and operated by her father, James Wiseman, for nearly 50 years. Today, she works as a manager with the ski area, where she handles everything from on-hill programming to social media, she said.

“Whatever needs to be done is what you do when you work in the family business,” Stafne said. “There’s days when you’re wrapping hot dogs in the cafeteria and days when you’re out on the hill holding an event for 300 people…it’s all about getting things done and keeping customers happy.”

She also started and runs her own business, Heart Smart Events, which organizes the annual Melting Mann dirt road race every year. It was while trying to obtain permits to host the event several years ago that Stafne was first introduced the operation of the county road commission.

Attending several commission meetings, Stafne became interested in the process of managing the county’s roadways. Having prior public service experience with the Cass County Economic Development Corporation and several other local chambers of commerce, she decided to apply for a position with the commission last year when the vacancy arose.

“I feel like I have something to contribute,” she said. “I have experience, I’m interested in the vitality of the county and I’m raising my kids here. I want to make this county the best that it can be.”

While her first time serving on a county road commission, the Jones resident has plenty of experience — in management and in public service — to help her excel in her new position, she said.

“I can use these same skills to make sure our roads are in good condition and that the issues that need to be addressed are addressed,” she said.

For now, though, Stafne intends to spend her initial time with the commission learning as much as she can after she is sworn into the new role later this month.

“I look forward to serving the community I enjoy…I’ll work hard,” Stafne said.