By Rosemary Horvath
Clare County is moving forward with having condition of buildings evaluated.
The energy services company NORESCO has been courting the county to assess conditions, determine energy-saving remedies and recruit contractors the county would hire.
At this point though there is no money promised and no contract signed, said board Chairman Rick LaBoda. “We are in the initial steps.”
NORESCO will investigate the County Building, animal shelter, sheriff’s department and jail and Senior Services latest acquisition the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Commissioner Jack Kleinhardt expressed skepticism Wednesday at the county board meeting over not having a professional maintenance person on staff although the county’s contracted custodial service handles many of the issues that rise.
It is expected that if Clare does contract with NORESCO it will have to maintain certain requirements staying on top of building maintenance.
NORESCO proposes a fee of $1.2 million for example, but guarantees a client will earn back enough money for bond payments from utility savings. Clare County could save as much as $120,000 annually is the estimate.
Kleinhardt used the problems with the boiler system as an example. New boilers were installed several years ago that require attention by a repairman when something goes awry.
Kleinhardt attempted to move to hire a part-time maintenance worker to which Commissioner Lynn Grimm pointed out there is one already.
Earlier this year commissioners approved hiring a full-time maintenance person at the sheriff’s department with the stipulation the person would be on call for other county buildings. That evidently has not materialized.
The problem, pointed out Commissioner Jim Gelios, is “it is up to us to say what needs to be done.”
LaBoda added that they are more reactive than proactive. “Someone needs to be responsible to check out things.”
He further said NORESCO “will look at buildings and tell us what is hanging by the thread. If we hire them to complete the project, it will save money every year.”
With regard to the Knights of Columbus building at 212 South Broad Street, the county board ratified a bond resolution to issue capital improvement bonds for the purpose of raising up to $135,000 to acquire the land and building and make improvements.
The 4,000 square foot facility will be designated as the Harrison meal site that replaces the Hayes Township Community Center on Grant Road which the township plans to sell.
Senior Services director Lori Ware said Harrison has the largest number of home-delivered meals, currently at 30,000, of any meal site in the county.
Although commissioners were disgruntled Drain Commissioner Carl Parks didn’t bother to attend the meeting, they nonetheless voted to authorize the county treasurer to draw up a contract loaning the drain commission $80,000 that will be repaid to the county with interest.
The money is to repair flood damage done to the Little Tobacco Drain in April.
Among other matters, the county board:
APPROVED having the county pay for a data plan and cell phone for county business only to Information Technology specialist Jim Neff. This arrangement is identical to a plan provided the I.T. person working at the sheriff’s department. Commissioners agreed Neff is on-call for emergencies. County Clerk Pam Mayfield suggested the technical committee discuss a policy for supplying certain employees with cell phones. Court personnel receive a $15 stipend. LaBoda pointed out that in light of changes in the Freedom of Information Act that private cell phones can become part of an investigation.
LEARNED from Commissioner Grim that public health funding falls short of the regional health department. She also reported Lincoln Township has observed gypsy moths and that Area Agency on Aging funding has fallen because state allocations are dependant on a population count of a census. The number of older adults in Clare County is rising but not counted by the census.
LEARNED from Commissioner Karen Lipovsky she attended a northern Michigan Association of Counties conference where a discussion was over farmers unable to hire enough workers to pick field crops. The pay is $11 an hour and housing is provided. Farmers are recruiting college students because the number of migrant workers has fallen. Commissioner Kleinhardt noted the failure to settle immigration policies “affects more on the local level than you expect.”
RECEIVED a report from Treasurer Jenny Beemer Fritzinger that the City of Clare Downtown Development Authority will acquire a professional building at 415 N. McEwan, formerly known as the 415 Building, for economic development purposes. The property was foreclosed on and the city has first right of refusal. Fritzinger also noted that 119 properties are in foreclosure.
RECEIVED information from Commissioner Dale Majewski agreement was reached with TransCanada and antennas will be transferred to the TransCanada tower. Majewski thanked County Administrator Tracy Byard for a lot of work. The move is estimated to save the county $7000 annually in rental fees and it will provide better coverage, Majewski said.
HAS met with Gladwin County Committee of the Whole to share information on issues such as health insurance, gypsy mother, mapping and the jail. Another meeting is set for 1 p.m. July 31 at the Gladwin County Building. Gladwin commissioners invited the board to discuss issues after a proposal to share a county administrator was turned down.
MET IN CLOSED SESSION to discuss pending litigation that has not been filed yet or may never get filed.