CRYSTAL FALLS—NorthStar Health Systems is in need of a new ambulance garage on the East Side, and it is looking to the county for some assistance.
At the Board of Commissioners’ July 24 bi-monthly meeting, NorthStar CFO Glenn Dobson and Mark Tousignant, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, made a presentation, describing their needs and reviewing the relationship the hospital has had with the county in the past.
The current garage, Dobson said, can no longer house either ambulances or EMS personnel.
Since it was built, ambulances have grown larger, he explained.
Also, there is a mold issue in the garage, making it unsafe for staff to stay in the living quarters when they are on duty.
Tousignant explained that the communities supported the ambulance through the 1970s and the mining era.
In the 1990s, Marquette General took over the EMS, and the county allowed them to use the ambulance garage on Ice Lake Road and in Crystal Falls.
In 2000, the Greater Iron County EMS was formed. Then, in 2004, when the hospital became a critical access hospital, NorthStar took back the service.
“We’ve had a long relationship with the county,” Dobson said, adding the hospital would be willing to lease a new facility from the county.
They would like to keep the EMS staff on the East Side, he said, because they provide assistance with clinical duties at the Crystal Falls clinic.
There is some land available near the clinic for a building he said.
A rough cost for a three-stall garage and living quarters is about $160,000.
County Board Chairman Wayne Wales asked if plans to build a garage as part of the Iron County Medical Care Facility expansion project was still in the works.
“We thought you were working with Medicare,” he said. Tousignant and Dobson both said those talks were over.
“We’d just like to put this in the pipeline,” Tousignant said, “by keeping our partnership with the county.”
He said the hospital was just looking for a resolution at this time that the county would support looking at the issue. The board did approve that resolution.
the board once again held off action on increasing the amount of its contract for services with the Northwoods Animal Shelter.
Wales said he was ready to aprove a $400 per month increase.
“It’s been 11 years since the amount has increased,” he said.
“I look at it as a wise investment for the county. They’re saving us money. It’s a wise use of taxpayer dollars.”
Administrator Sue Clisch agreed, saying, “It is a beautiful facility, one of a kind.”
However, she recommended more discussion with the finance committee.
“We’ve had time to consider it,” Wales said.
Civil Counsel Steve Tinti said the issue would require a mid-year budget amendment to change the amount.
Clisch note that “$2,400 for six months was just not in the budget at this time.”
The board decided to take another look at the budget and give the shelter group an answer later in the week.
in other business:
--The board approved the Chicaugon Lake concession’s three-year contract.
--Turned over entries for a county plat book cover contest to Equalization Department Director Joan Mussatto for selection. There is a $50 gift for the winner.
--Approved the same disbursement of administration fees to the county’s senior centers as last year.
--Authorized Clisch to pursue a land exchange for in-kind services between the Forest Park School District and the Sheriff’s Department.
--Took public comment from Blaise Andreski about a boat wash project at Pentoga Park.
Andreski said the project is stalled, and asked the county to form a committee including commissioners and members of the Chicaugon Lake Property Owners Association to work on it.
Wales said he had input from Michigan State University indicating a boat wash would be “a waste of money.”
Andreski responded that he has had conversations with Dean Premo of White Water Associates, who said a boat wash is a first start to addressing the issue of invasive species. No action was taken.
--The board took public comment from resident Larry Field, who expressed opposition to the proposal of a retail building next to the Courthouse.
“Crystal Falls people are hoping it isn’t built near the Courthouse,” he said.
He added that he had done some research, which indicated the area around the Courthouse was considered a residential historical district.
“The public should contact the county with their concerns,” he said.