Building commissioner, floodplain manager, code enforcement officer, GIS manager and secretary of two county boards are among the titles Mike Weir has had for the past 15 years.
Now, he only has one title — retiree.
Weir, 67, a Medora native who lives in Brownstown, retired in late 2000 after 32 years with Cummins Inc. He then learned Jackson County was in need of a building commissioner, so he applied for that position and was hired.
After spending 15 years helping organize and lead that office, he decided it was time to spend more time with his family.
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He said he enjoyed his job. But having to fulfill his daily duties and then attend meetings during the daytime and nighttime was time-consuming and sometimes caused him to miss family events.
“I just felt like the time was right,” he said. “I really liked the job over the years. But I feel I’ve taken the office as far as I can take it, especially through the technology end of it. … With all of that stuff coming along, I just felt it was at the end of my knowledge, and somebody else needed to come in and take it further.”
Conner Barnette, 22, a Brownstown native, recently was chosen by the county plan commission and then approved by the county commissioners to be the new building commissioner.
Weir worked alongside Barnette for a couple of weeks to help him with the transition.
“The main thing that I’ve found and I’ve told him several times is you need to be fair and consistent,” Weir said. “You can’t be so rigid people can’t do things. You need to be flexible. But whatever you do, you need to be consistent.”
Weir graduated from Medora High School in 1967 and then worked at EMC Plastics in town for about a year. He then worked at General Motors in Bedford for six months before being laid off.
In November 1968, he landed a job with Cummins. In 1996, the company signed a historical labor agreement, part of which was to go into a team-based work system.
Weir got in on the ground floor of that system and gained a lot of knowledge and experience in various fields, which he said helped when he took the building commissioner job.
“When I went through the team-based work system, I had a lot of training in one-to-one communication, third-party mediation, conflict resolution and that type of stuff,” he said.
When Weir started as building commissioner, the office was in a small room in the basement of the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown — just big enough to fit two desks, one for him and the other for his office manager, Jo Forister.
The office later was moved to the solid waste management building for a short time until renovations were completed at the courthouse annex. In 2008, the office moved to the basement of the annex.
Then in October 2013, commissioners bought a former insurance office building next to the annex at 202 E. Walnut St., which is where the office remains today.
Weir said the office has come a long way in the past 15 years.
When he started, the comprehensive plan, which involves land use and management, hadn’t been updated since the office started in 1968. That involved working with other county departments.
“We had over 50 people in organizations involved in that because it hadn’t been done for 40 years, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss anybody,” he said.
The subdivision control ordinance, which establishes rules, procedures and standards governing the subdivision of land, also was updated.
Weir also helped update other county ordinances, which again involved working with several county departments.
As building commissioner, Weir served as secretary of the county plan commission and county board of zoning appeals.
He also worked his way onto the county 911 board since the building commissioner issues addresses for new homes and those come up on a map on a computer when someone dials 911.
In the office, Weir assisted residents in a variety of ways.
“If they want to do something on a piece of property it’s not zoned for, they have to get a variance or a special exception, depending on how the zoning is and what they want to do,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to figure that out for them and help them file the paperwork and get stuff set up for the public hearings for it.”
Weir also went out to check sites in order to issue a building permit; enforced codes and ordinances; managed the floodplain; and checked on complaints.
“Ninety-five percent of the time, it’s a good job dealing with the people,” he said. “There are a lot of things you can do, problem-solving type stuff, to help people. They come in and it looks impossible what they want to do and they can’t do it, and then you work with them, and a lot of times you can help them accomplish what they want to do and still say within the guidelines.”
While it will take some time to adjust to not working anymore, Weir said he is ready for flexibility so he can do some traveling and other activities with his family.
“I’m kind of looking into doing some stuff part time because I’m not one to just sit at home,” he said. “I’ve got to do something.”
Name: Mike Weir
Education: Medora High School (1967)
Occupation: Worked at EMC Plastics and General Motors before working at Cummins Inc. from 1968 to 2000; recently retired after 15 years as the Jackson County building commissioner
Family: Wife, Karen Weir; children, Stacy Eder and Clay Weir; three grandchildren