CRYSTAL FALLS—During its regular meeting Sept. 12, the County Board heard a request for help for a project near the Courthouse—including help of a financial nature.
The project would result in reconstruction and widening of Court Street, on the north side of the Courthouse complex, passing by the Sheriff’s Department office and the county jail.
Jeff Bal of GEI Consultants said Crystal Falls may be applying for a grant to help pay for the project. Besides the rebuilt street, the project could include angle parking and replacing the sanitary sewer. Overhead power lines could be put underground, and an electric car recharging station can also win points.
The grant would be through the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Bal said, and points needed to win a grant can come from collaboration with the county.
But a decision is needed pronto: Bal said the grant application is due by Oct. 1, less than three weeks after the meeting. (The project, he said, was not far enough developed for him to appear at the County Board’s August meeting.) “That’s a lot to ask in two weeks, I know,” he said.
Bal asked for at least a resolution of support from the county. “The ultimate would be if you give some kind of financial commitment.”
Board Chairman Carl Lind asked about improving the old “carriage house.” Bal said the project may be able to help.
“This grant is something to improve the downtown aesthetics,” he said. “If something creative could be done with the carriage house—maybe. I don’t have the idea right now.”
The board took no action on Bal’s request, including the support letter, at the meeting.
As for money, Commissioner Patti Peretto said the county is just starting its budget process.
“I personally think it’s not anything I could say yes to right now,” she continued. “We’re just figuring out how much money we have to run on next year.”
• Rosalie King reported on a recent substance abuse meeting she attended and said there is an effort underway to merge the substance abuse and mental health offices.
“We’re nervous about that,” she continued. “There’s a lot of people who don’t get the attention at mental health. If you put the people with substance abuse in there, are they going to fall through the cracks?”
She also asked about openings on the Parks and Recreation Committee. Peretto said there was little response when the positions were last advertised.
Administrator Sue Clisch said there are only two members at present, and they have been asked if they know of anyone interested. The board is supposed to have 10 members, including about seven from the public. King said she would ask around.
• Commissioner Jim Brennan reported that the county’s Economic Development Corp. committee has been working with Global about the possible addition of 25 call center jobs in Iron County, and Global’s need for a grant to expand its facility. The Michigan EDC has encouraged Iron County to request a grant and offered its help.
Brennan also reported that the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency continues to see a loss in revenue. “They’ve got all these services that seniors want, and they have less money to do it.”
DICSA held two recent meetings at the Iron River Senior Center. The first one was well attended; the second one, not so much. “They heard a lot of requests from this county. They didn’t really respond, so I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, but at least they heard it.”
As for the Michigan Works office in Caspian, it has been reopened part-time by a contract provider from Houghton. Brennan said the new person knows what to do but is unfamiliar with Iron County. That is a problem, especially for veterans looking for work. Also, Iron County is underrepresented on the Works Board—Bob Black is the only member at present.
• Commissioner Ray Coates reported that the County Fair had a “very successful” year “percentage-wise, comparable to the last couple years.” Doing especially well: the beer booth.
• Chairman Lind said one of the new wings at the Medical Care Center will be completed Oct. 14, and final completion of the project is now set for March 21. The number of residents is going up, he noted.