BOC won’t support bulletproof glass for prosecutor

July 25, 2014

By Rosemary Horvath

Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis has been left to resort to her own means after the Board of Commissioners last week turned down her request to pay to have bullet proof glass installed at the lobby window of her department.

Commissioner Jim Gelios, a retired police officer, moved to accept but the motion died from lack of support.

“No other commissioner would second the motion so they never discussed it or voted on it,” Ambrozaitis replied in an email.

Commissioner Dale Majewski was absent at the board meeting.

Ambrozaitis has not abandoned the plan and she will investigate possible grant funding assisted by County Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski and Emergency Manager Jerry Becker. She said both department heads support her request.

She added, “I’m not surprised that the board members took the stance that they did.  Commissioner Dale Majewski and Commissioner Jim Gelios clearly understand the need for additional security within the county building and have been supportive in our efforts to tighten security; however, the other commissioners have dug in their heels in opposition to any additional security measures.”

A majority of county commissioners have shunned installing safety precautions at the County Building and court wing for years, except to have one or more sheriff deputies stationed in the lobby when courts are in session.

However, four entrances to the building have easy access.

A metal detector that has never been used stands inoperable in one corner of the lobby.

“We plan to continue to seek alternate funding for the bullet proof glass.  The safety of my staff is very important to me,” Ambrozaitis said.

Contacted after the meeting, Commissioner Gelios said he was stunned when his motion died from lack of a second. A common procedure is to have an issue go through the process of discussing before it fades away, he said.

“I was shocked. The request was for $2,000 something. There is usually a second so we can discuss an issue but we never got to that stage.”

Gelios added there should be “building security, period. A full-time deputy should be sitting at that desk (in the building lobby) five days a week.”

This week, commissioners began the annual task of hearing recommendations from departments on revenue and spending preparing a new budget for the next fiscal year. County Administrator Tracy Byard supplied the board with statistics to assist in the discussions that will continue over the next month or two.

The Harrison-based dispatch center which falls under the sheriff’s supervision received approval to establish a backup dispatch center at the Clare Public Safety Building.

The alternate location would be utilized in the event the Harrison site is disabled due to an emergency such as a blackout from inclement weather.

Theoretically, it also could be used to handle increased call volume.

Dispatch was authorized to spend $39,000 from its fund balance to purchase equipment.

Commissioners heard from a small group of irate Hayes Township neighbors over an owner allowing his two dogs to run loose in their neighborhood. The neighbors said they feel their safety is endangered.

The group also has appealed to the Hayes Township Board of Trustees and Neighborhood Watch.

Contacted after the meeting, township Supervisor Terry Acton explained the dog owner allows his pit bulls “to run free as long as the tickets are paid. To date six tickets have been issued and five paid.”

Acton replied in an email that “the township attorney indicated that the animal control is well with in their rights to pull this man into court on a show cause hearing. The neighbors are scared out of their minds and have come to me as a last resort. They have ceased to call in complaints because of the obvious inaction. It is a matter of time until this situation turns ugly.”

David Gendregske, county animal control officer, confirmed Friday that one of the two animals had been taken to the shelter.

“We do what the law allows us to and the law does not allow us to shoot them.”

A show cause hearing will be set. According to Gendregske, the dog owner has pleaded guilty to one dog causing damage suspected of killing a cat.

“Wheels of justice grind slowly,” the director added. “Only a judge can take away someone’s property.”

This particular dog owner has received seven tickets from the animal shelter. “They have been pleading guilty and paying fines,” Gendregske said.

The animal shelter takes complaints about loose animals daily. Sometimes, owners who consider animals their pets are indifferent to feelings of the public.

“Animal control can pick u to 100 dogs from around the county. I’ve picked up pit bulls in several different locations. Dog owners sometimes are not cooperating when they consider these animals their pets.”

Supervisor Acton and Commissioner Gelios met Saturday to discuss what options are left. The prosecutor’s office also has been contacted.

“You’d think violations would carry higher fees,” Gelios said later. “My concern is making sure we are doing all we can and following property procedure. It’s in the hands of the court.”

Gelios said the county administrator has been asked to follow up with the issue.

Last week, commissioners also heard complaints from Hayes Township resident Ray Elliott and several other area residents about the noxious odor they believe comes from Waste Management’s Northern Oaks Recycling and Disposal Facility at the end of Larch Road, less than two miles from Elliott’s home.

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