CHIPPEWA FALLS — Chippewa County Board Chairman Jared Zwiefelhofer plans to resign his leadership post next month after several board members urged him to do so in the wake of his conviction on three hunting-related infractions.
“At this time I would like to apologize to all of the county board supervisors, all of the county employees, and most importantly the citizens of Chippewa County,” Zwiefelhofer wrote. “On Nov. 19, 2018, I made a choice which resulted in me receiving three citations from the (Department of Natural Resources). I have no excuses and take full responsibility for what I’ve done, and for that, I am very sorry.”
Zwiefelhofer added that he knows it has been an “unwanted distraction,” and he hopes to re-establish the trust and respect he once had in the county.
While Zwiefelhofer said he will step down as chairman on March 12, it appears he intends to stay on the board.
“This (resignation as chairman) will open it up for the election of a new county board chair,” he wrote. “The decision of the county board will be final. If the county board re-elects me as chair, I will accept it. If the county board elects someone else as chair, then I will respect that decision and support whomever it may be.”
Zwiefelhofer, who was elected as chairman last April, has been on the board since 2010.
“I ask you to not let this one action completely overshadow my years of service to the taxpayers of Chippewa County,” he wrote to conclude his letter.
Board member Steve Gerrish of Lake Hallie, who is among the board members who publicly called for Zwiefelhofer to step down, said he’s pleased that Zwiefelhofer did so willingly, rather than force a vote from the board, where a majority would have been needed to oust him as chairman.
“I’m happy he’s accepted responsibility for what he’s done,” Gerrish said.
The board was slated to meet tonight, although it is possible it could be canceled due to snow. Gerrish said Zwiefelhofer should step down at the meeting.
“We want a chair in place, and he’s already made his decision,” Gerrish said.
The board’s vice chair is Leigh Darrow of the town of Eagle Point. Gerrish said that Darrow would temporarily run a meeting if Zwiefelhofer were absent, but Darrow doesn’t automatically become chair when Zwiefelhofer steps down.
In an email to media on Sunday, Gerrish was critical of Zwiefelhofer serving on the county’s Legal & Law Enforcement Committee. Zwiefelhofer also is the Bloomer police chief.
“It’s appalling to me that he can be on this committee anymore, as he doesn’t follow the laws of the state of Wisconsin himself,” Gerrish wrote in his letter.
Zwiefelhofer was named as police chief in August 2011. He started with the department as a reserve in 1992.
It remains unclear if Bloomer officials will reprimand Zwiefelhofer. After the citations were filed, Bloomer city administrator Sandi Frion said that the city’s Police Commission is responsible for handling any discipline of the chief.
The Police Commission hasn’t met to discuss any discipline, she added. Frion couldn’t be reached for comment Monday to see if a meeting will be held now that Zwiefelhofer has been convicted.
Zwiefelhofer pleaded no contest to the three hunting citations on Feb. 5: improperly placing bait, possessing a deer killed without bow on an archer tag, and operating an ATV with a loaded firearm. All three are citations. As a result of the convictions, Zwiefelhofer’s Department of Natural Resources privileges are suspended for two years and he must pay $878 in fines and court costs.