Sheriff, former commissioner spar in PI

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Former Presque Isle County commissioner Wayne Vermilya, seated in front, listens to Presque Isle County Sheriff Joe Brewbaker, standing in back, respond to allegations Vermilya made during a March 1 meeting of the county Board of Commissioners meeting.

ROGERS CITY — A former Presque Isle County commissioner on Thursday told the county board that the county sheriff has “contacted legal support” and will be taking action against him.

Former commissioner Wayne Vermilya provided to The News a letter that appears to be from the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Office, saying the office will act “due to (Vermilya’s) false statements and continuing accusations that are without fact and merit.”

Without providing evidence, Vermilya has accused the sheriff of wrongdoing during public meetings.

Vermilya also provided a copy of a March 15 letter he says he sent to Sheriff Joe Brewbaker, requesting Vermilya not be contacted by the sheriff’s office because of an incident there on March 1, when Vermilya says he was followed out of the office by an individual who intended to provoke a confrontation with him.

“That action combined with the derogatory remarks referenced in my complaint, as well as other personally observed behavior, is reasonably viewed as unprofessional behavior,” he wrote in the letter. “As such, I view that behavior as unnecessary intimation (sic) and a threat to my safety as a citizen.”

At a meeting Thursday, commissioners asked Brewbaker to share his side of the story, but the sheriff declined to do so.

The disagreement stems from a heated discussion that occurred between Vermilya and Brewbaker during the March 1 meeting. Following that meeting, Vermilya went to the sheriff’s office.

During a Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, county attorney Joe Kwiatkowski told the board they should enter Vermilya’s comment into the record.

“With respect to public comment, what’s happened with Mr. Vermilya, I think, you should at least receive and file on the minutes the document he’s filed,” he said.

The board voted unanimously Thursday to receive and file Vermilya’s paperwork.

Vermilya, an Onaway Democrat, served on the Board of Commissioners from 1994 to 2002. He ran for the board last year but lost the election.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or