By Cathy Taylor
Brett Hansen, Operations Manager for Clare County MMR, appeared before the Clare County Board of Commissioners last week, assuring them that MMR will be able to handle all of the County’s emergency needs. Hansen reported that they have received calls from area residents concerned about whether MMR will be able to handle the extra call volume created by the closing of their competitor United Rescue Service.
Hansen added that United Rescue subscriptions will continue to be honored by MMR until August 31 of this year. After that time residents can purchase subscriptions to MMR Plus.
In honor of National CPR Week beginning June 1st, Hansen presented the Board with a new Automated External Defibrillator unit (AED) for use in the county building. The unit is valued at $1,300.
County Administrator Tracy Byard gave an update concerning insurance quotes for the Harrison Airport.
It was previously brought to the attention of the Board that Clare Airport was paying substantially less for insurance premiums than Harrison. Byard reported that a quote has been secured that will ultimately result in $1,663 savings for the county.
Byard also announced that the Bridgeway Investment Corporation, the firm that currently holds the title to the Farwell Post Office Building, would like the county to consider purchasing the Farwell Post Office building. The matter will be placed on next month’s agenda.
Brian Anderson, President and CEO of Middle Michigan Development Corporation, gave an update concerning the business climate in Clare County. He announced the promotion of Kathy Methner to the position of Clare County Director of the MMDC and Michigan Works Region 7D merger.
According to the MMDC’s annual report, they have helped area businesses in procuring nearly 1.2 million dollars in grant money over the last three years and have been instrumental in creating over 300 new jobs for the companies in the area that they have assisted.
Anderson spoke to the Board about one of the MMDC’s latest endeavors that he referred to as a Food Hub. The Hub will be situated next to the Harrison Library and will serve as a community kitchen. It will provide an opportunity for area farmers to distribute their excess fruits and vegetables.
Clare County District Court Judge Joshua Farrell and Clare County Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski presented their plans to the Board for updating security protocols at the Clare County Building. Judge Farrell indicated that Clare was one of the very few counties left in the state of Michigan that has not adopted tighter security measures for its courthouse.
At the Board’s recommendation, the plan will be set in motion immediately and will be implemented in three separate stages. When fully in place and operational, the Clare County Building will have one entry/exit point on the south side. All employees and visitors entering the facility will be required to pass through a scanning unit and weapons screening process.
Shortly after 11:00 am, the Board recessed and went into the Committee of the Whole meeting.
Undersheriff Miedzianowski was the first give a presentation.
“We are exploring the possibility of purchasing eight AED’s for our mobile patrol units,” Midge stated.
“We plan to use a 50/50 match grant for this and we are also looking into funding through other grants as well. MMR has agreed to provide training for our staff free of charge.”
Midge also asked the Board for a motion allowing the Sheriff’s Department to replace any part time staff vacancies that may arise at their discretion as long as they remain within budget allowances. The Sheriff’s Department feels this is important because of the need to continually maintain adequate staffing in proportion to out-of-state renters. Often when a corrections officer’s position is vacated, it creates a deficit in the ratio of officer/inmate coverage which would threaten the jail’s ability to continue housing the renters. This would in turn create a significant loss of revenue for the Department.
The motion was later approved at the regular Committee meeting.
The Board also approved the purchase of two new road patrol vehicles and a refurbished vehicle. Two new totally outfitted Chevy Caprices will be purchased for $62,000 along with a 2010 Ford Crown
Victoria for $5,200 . The Crown Vic will be utilized as an undercover vehicle and will require an extra $3,000 to get it road ready. A total of $76,414 had previously been allocated for these purchases.
Other Corrections Department business included the approval of installation of a fee-based, revenue sharing inmate video visitation system via the Internet. This will allow families to visit with inmates from their home computers. There will be a 50 cent per minute charge for the service for the internet visitors.
Approval was also sought for the implementation of an E-cigarette program for jail inmates. Midge confirmed that the program represents one of the innovative routes the department is taking to draw more out-of-county renters to the jail. He also stated that other counties with half the inmate space of Clare County’s jail and with no state renters have generated over $13,000 with this program.
In subsequent Board business, a motion was made and approved to make the part-time Clare County Animal Control Officer position full-time.
A motion was made and approved to appoint James Anthony for a one-year term as an alternate member of the Soldiers Relief Commission, with the term to expire February 20, 2014.
The motion was made and approved to reappoint Joe Phillips as Clare County representative to the Community Mental Health for Central Michigan for a three year term, effective April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2016.
The motion was made and approved to accept budget adjustments totaling $854,550.64 and to approve the expenditures for the month of February 2013 in the amount of $1,712,535.80, with the General Fund expenditures totaling $948,406.92.
The next scheduled meeting for the Clare County Board of Commissioners will be April 17 at 9:00 am, with the Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled for the same day beginning at 11:00 am.