CRYSTAL FALLS—At its regular April 9 meeting, the Iron County Board of Commissioners voted to hire Don Peterson of Renewable Resource Solutions LLC as a forestry consultant.
According to Commissioner Timothy Aho, each cut will be different, so Peterson will bring logger recommendations for each job back to the board. Peterson will put the sale together.
Jim Brennan, finance committee chair, suggested that all local logging companies have a chance to bid for the work. Aho said that provision could be part of the motion. “If we don’t agree, we don’t have to do it,” he said.
The first step of the project is to hire someone to put the sale together. Any recommendations for the loggers hired for the job would be brought to the board, Aho said, and a decision could be made then.
The motion was accepted unanimously.
The commissioners also approved the switch to wireless internet in the Courthouse by 906 Technologies. The amount is $3,655.
Aho spoke with an IT member and said the product is a universally used product. The estimated cost is comparable to what the equipment should cost.
Questions were raised about whether wireless would work in the courtroom. Sue Clisch, county administrator, said she had been assured it would.
The wireless equipment would be stationed in the Sheriff’s Department and Courthouse.
The board was not able to agree on staggering lunch times in the courthouse’s offices, so a motion was accepted to suspend the discussion until next month’s meeting.
Clisch said it can be frustrating for taxpayers to go to an office and find it closed due to a designated lunch hour. Many people have their lunch break from noon to 1 p.m. and can only do their business during that time.
Joan Luthanan, county clerk, said it is easier for the public to know that an office will be closed from noon to 12:30 instead of possibly being closed due to short staff if the decision to stagger the lunch hours was approved.
Brennan said he was in favor of staggering lunch hours because people may not be aware of the offices closing for a half hour during lunch.
“I think, though, that our job is to serve the taxpayers,” Brennan said. “We are missing the point of why we exist and why we get paid, which is to serve the public.”
Kim Stoker, executive director at the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (WUPPDR), presented information to the new board members about WUPPDR and how it serves Iron County.
During the last five years, Stoker said, Iron County has contributed $37,888 to WUPPDR, with the return on investment being $2,835,515. For every $1 invested by Iron County, WUPPDR has returned $73.94 over the past five years, he said. “Our organization, I think, does a good job for the county,” Stoker said.
Karen Thekan, the chief executive officer at Northpointe, presented its annual report. Northpointe serves 288 individuals in Iron County.
Boyington Place, a group home, and Crossroads, supportive apartments, are both owned and operated by Northpointe and are located in Iron River, Thekan said.
Northpointe’s budget is $17 million dollars, and it employs over 250 people across Iron, Dickinson and Menominee counties, she said. “At Northpointe, we are trying to improve services in the community based on priority needs.”
Based on community needs assessments, she said, the main concerns expressed in Iron County are the lack of mental health service providers, obesity and lack of fitness, lack of child services and transportation needs, Thekan said.
Beth Tappy of the Dickinson-Iron District Heath Department presented the board with an update and information on the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
The SNS is a national stockpile of medical supplies stored at 12 different locations across the country that only the CDC knows about. It was put into place after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Tappy said.
Carl Lind, County Board chairman, would be the local authority for a SNS request in the case of an emergency. If the county and state ran out of supplies, Tappy said, an emergency would be declared, and Lind would work with local law enforcement to receive the supplies at the designated locations.
The local dispensing site for Iron County is the Forest Park school, where the Health Department would be able to take over to get the medical supplies to the public. The janitorial staff would be reached during non-school hours for the supplies to be delivered and dispensed, Tappy said.
“Unfortunately, emergencies don’t happen Monday through Friday from 8 to 4,” Tappy said.
In addition to approving the SNS request, the board may be called upon to address the media in a group effort to get one message out to the public, Tappy said.
The board rejected an increase in wages for Jerry Anderson, building code inspector, due to upcoming certification.
Clisch said she did a study, and Anderson is currently making $22.97 an hour, which is what others make in neighboring counties. Other staff members in the county who have to acquire certifications do not get an increase in pay.
Commissioner Ray Coates said that even employees who are required to have multiple certifications do not usually get raises based on new certifications. The board voted unanimously to reject the pay increase.
In other business, the commissioners:
--Appointed Robert Black to RC&D council.
--Appointed Klaryce Bilski to the Jury Board until April 30, 2019.
--Approved Crystal Bittner’s payout for vacation time ($1,358.59) and Rolayne Jackson’s payout for sick time ($1,837.20).
--A release of accumulated benefits to Melanie Camps ($4,476.78 with longevity of $145.81) was approved. The release of accumulated benefits to Joetta Greig ($4,881.17 and longevity of $262.50) was also approved.
Camps was elected county treasurer and Greig was elected register of deeds during the November 2012 election. Before taking their new offices, both worked in the county treasurer’s office.