Pritzl thanks county board in last meeting

Finance director to serve as interim county administrator
Warren Bluhm
News Director

Oconto County Board Chairman Al Sleeter accidentally skipped the monthly county administrator’s report on the agenda during the Oct. 18 board meeting, causing a murmur around the room.

“I’m still here, Al,” said County Administrator Erik Pritzl, to general laughter.

The meeting was the last one for Pritzl, who is leaving the office Feb. 7 to take back his old job as Brown County director of health and human services, which he left a little more than two years ago for the Oconto County post.

The board voted 28-0 to appoint finance director Lisa Sherman as interim county administrator.

While several candidates have come forward, Pritzl noted that many will have requirements to give 30- to 90-day notice before leaving their current employers.

“Feb. 7 is coming faster and faster,” Pritzl said. “Even if you hired someone today, there’s going to be 30-60-90 days before they can start.”

Sherman has been employed by Oconto County for 34 years, including five years as finance director and 10 years as Health and Human Services business manager before that, making her an ideal pick as interim administrator, Pritzl said.

“Lisa has contact with so many departments,” he said. “As you know, she can talk about policy and procedure and is very well versed in that, understands the finances of the county and the budget, and is familiar with all the general county policies and procedures.”

She also has the temperament for the job and has agreed to do it, he added.

Sherman thanked the board for the opportunity.

“I certainly cannot begin to fill Erik’s shoes. He has taken so many positive steps for this county, and I along with I’m sure many of you will miss his leadership absolutely,” she said. “However, we do have a very strong group of department heads here. I’m confident that together we can keep our ship going in the right direction until that new administrator is appointed.”

She pledged to make herself available for the board if supervisors have questions or concerns.

“I certainly will work as hard as I can and will do my very best,” Sherman said. “Oconto County has been very good to me, and I certainly want to do whatever I can to repay the county and to help out in any way I can.”

She conceded the extra work comes at a busy time of the year for the finance department but said she and her staff are up to the challenge.

“It’ll be a lot of extra hours, but we’ll manage,” she said.

Pritzl used his last county board meeting to thank supervisors for the opportunity and praise the county and its staff.

“Serving in this role as county administrator here has been an honor, a privilege and a wonderful experience,” he said. “People in places like Oconto County are unique and special. What I know, and this is sometimes a best-kept secret, that the county is fortunate to have the work force that is fully committed to their work. It starts at the leadership level, and it’s seen all the way down to the direct service level with the person on the street getting what they need.”

Pritzl said board members “demonstrate a respect and strong sense of obligation to the people of the county and carefully consider issues that come before you,” and he said serving as county administrator has been a great experience.

“I was thinking on the way to work today, I’m going to miss my morning drive. There’s nothing like driving on Highway 41 and crossing the Pensaukee River full of ice, and the sky coming alive from the sunrise, and the sunset going on,” Pritzl said. “There’s so much beauty in the landscape here, and the county’s focus on protecting and preserving those precious resources ensures that it’s enjoyed for generations to come.”

Sleeter said he will take Pritzl up on his offer to be available to help during the transition.

“Thank you, Erik. I have your phone number, and I know where you live,” Sleeter said.