CRYSTAL FALLS—At its regular Jan. 14 meeting, the Iron County Board of Commissioners discussed the possibility of becoming independent from the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency or finding another partnership.
According to Chairman Jim Brennan, the question is whether the county could do better by becoming independent from DICSA. The options the board is considering are to stay with DICSA, leave and merge with Gogebic County or become a completely independent entity.
During discussion, the floor was opened to members of the public who wanted to share their feelings about possibly breaking away from DICSA.
Pat Gasperini, a former member of the site council, said she resigned after fighting against DICSA too many times. As a regular at the Iron County Senior Center, she has noticed that the Dickinson County Senior Center offers soup and salad at all meals, but the Iron County Senior Center is only allowed to have soup and salad at Thursday night dinners.
She went on to say that the site council had to fight DICSA for the Thursday night dinners, which 60 to 90 people normally attend.
“I am very glad that this board is working to resolve the DICSA problem,” Gasperini said. She encouraged each board member to attend at least one meal at the center.
Another member, a past president of the Site Council, said the upkeep on the buildings is high and wanted to know how the county would pay for all the programs if it breaks away from DICSA.
Gerald McCole of Channing stated that the “Iron County Board of Commissioners has the opportunity to undo all the damage that has been done to the seniors in the past 10 years plus. They can put Iron, Dickinson and Baraga County seniors on an equal basis.”
He suggested that any meeting of the Iron County and Dickinson County boards include Baraga County officials and that the meeting be held at a neutral location.
The board did not make any decisions, as commissioners asked for more information about financials and what each program costs to run.
“We can’t reduce any funding to the seniors,” said Commissioner Tim Aho. “It is a challenge enough.”
Commissioner Carl Lind stated that both senior centers should be treated equally.
The next step in the discussion will to hold a joint meeting. Brennan said he would try to contact Baraga County as well.
The board also discussed the Cooks Run fish hatchery. The building in which the caretakers were staying does not have proper duct work, as it had some asbestos. They left by November because of the lack of heat.
Dino Giannola informed Administrator Sue Clisch that predators had gotten a lot of the fish and that there weren’t many left.
Commissioner Aho stated that Giannola should be discussing the issue directly with legal counsel, since he feels it is a violation of the lease and is now a legal issue because the taxpayers have not received the fish they had been promised.
Commissioners Ray Coates and Patty Peretto stated that the board should sit down with Giannola to figure out what to do next, as he still owes the county fish.
They hope to have a decision ready at February’s regular monthly meeting.
Brennan discussed timber harvesting and said the county needs to have an extended plan for timber harvesting. The main objective, he said, is to have a healthy forest on county property.
Aho said that the contract isn’t completed yet, but they will have something for the February meeting. Ten percent of the proceeds from the first timber sale will be used to finance the long-term project, he said.
The board voted and agreed to purchase the aerial view plat book from Rockford Publishers in the amount of $32,000.
“It’s an asset to the county and everyone loves it,” Clisch said.
During public comment, Julie Baumgartner asked the board if she and other 4-H parents can go to other municipalities or businesses to raise the funding needed to keep the 4-H clubs going. She said the board allocated $17,000 for the program, but that it would cost a total of $30,000 to keep the program running.
“We need to look forward. We need to see kids grow and accomplish things through the program,” she said.
The board agreed that it is important to the county and will do research and get back to her.
In addition to her comments, Doug Brahee, Extension interim district coordinator, reported the Extension office had received amazing letters from Iron County youths about their passion for 4-H, but wanted to clarify a few misunderstandings.
He said that the $30,000 is not used to just cover salaries for the program and that the Extension is more than just 4-H. He said 4-H programming is offered in different forms: clubs, classroom and school enrichment and a project or short-term program.
Jim Morzella of Crystal Falls presented information about a picturesque DVD of Iron County. The DVD will be housed in the History Room at the Courthouse. He compiled photos to use for the DVD for over 10 years.
During commissioner reports, Peretto reported that MIWorks has a full-time person, and the schedule may change when it is decided which days the office should be open and which days she should be out visiting businesses.
The commissioners also accepted the report on soil erosion permits from Robert Gussert of the Iron Conservation District office.
The board was informed that Julie Kezerle was transferred from the equalization office to the clerk’s office.
The Finance meetings will now be held every other Thursday instead of Tuesdays.
The board approved the treasurer’s journal entries dated Dec. 30.
The board approved the review of bills in the amount of $1,915,121 and $389,521.51.