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BOC rescinds decision to close courthouse

 

By Cathy Taylor

Correspondent In a surprising turn of events, the Clare County Board of Commissioners rescinded their decision to initiate upgrades to the courthouse security system at their April 17th meeting.

In an emotionally divided decision, the Commissioners voted 4 to 3 to halt plans that were previously set in motion at last month’s meeting to lock the doors of the Clare County Building in Harrison.  Circuit Court Judge Joshua Farrell and Clare County Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski initially presented the plans to the Board over a month ago, which included routing all foot traffic through one entrance and passing through weapons screening equipment.

Board Commissioners Jack Kleinhardt, Karen Lipovsky, Leonard Strouse and Rick LaBoda cast the four dissenting votes at the meeting.  Kleinhardt and Lipovsky claimed that after polling the constituents in their districts, the majority felt that the inconvenience of restricted access to the building would far outweigh any safety value.

Commissioners Lipovsky and LaBoda expressed their dismay at not being asked to give their input on the matter when the security plans were in the preliminary stage.  Commissioner Strouse remained silent on the issue.

Commissioner Lynn Grim felt that heightened security within the building would definitely be a step in the right direction, but felt that employees of the courthouse needed a separate entrance and exit point away from the general public.

Board President Jim Gelios remained very much in favor of the proposed security upgrades throughout the entire process and expressed eagerness to implement the changes as soon as possible, with Commissioner Dale Majewski remaining silent through most of the deliberations.

President Gelios concluded by stating that apparently the Board feels that security is not needed at the courthouse and thanked Judge Farrell and Midge for all of their hard work and efforts in the matter.

Mark Russo, a representative from the Michigan State Police, presented Jerry Becker with a certificate of completion from the Professional Emergency Management program.  According to Russo, this designation is a nationally recognized standard in the profession of emergency management services.  The program is developed, taught and administered by the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

“The program gives participants the tools to better protect, prevent and respond to, and recover from all hazards that may affect Michigan communities,” stated Russo.  “And it is my great pleasure to welcome Jerry Becker as a Professional Emergency Manager for Clare County.”

Kim Halis from the Clare County Equalization Department presented for the Board’s approval the 2013 equalized value recommendations.  According to her findings, the 2013 county equalized value has decreased $26,140,083 from 2012.  This is an overall decrease of approximately 2.18 percent.  Clare County’s grand total county equalized value is $1,199,985,734.  Taxable value reports were not available in time for last Wednesday’s meeting.

In other board business, the BOC voted to decline the offer for purchase of the Farwell Post Office building from the Bridgeway Investment Coproration.  BIC is asking $250,000 for the property and feels that by making the purchase the Farwell community would be in a better position to secure postal service for many years beyond the terms of its present lease agreement.

In one final act of business, the Board briefly discussed their recent decision to change from conducting thier business twice a month to once per month.  All seven board members agreed that, despite a little confusion and disorganization with the February and March meetings, things have seemed to fall into place for the April session.  The Board unanimously agreed to continue conducting business once per month, always on the third Wednesday beginning at 9 am.

 

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