By Cathy Taylor
During the opening public comment portion of their Feb. 2012 meeting, the Clare County Board of Commissioners listened to the concerns of Clare County resident Randy Gray in regards to the DTE Smart Meter recently installed at his residence. Mr. Gray distributed a letter to Board members that he received from DTE concerning their right to install the meter.
“This meter was installed at my residence while I was travelling away from home and without prior warning that this was going to be done,” began Gray. “My opposition to these meters is the fact they are being forced upon us. They are meters and transmitters, and being a transmitter, I don’t know all of the data that is being transmitted.”
Gray continued, “I object to this and I believe it is a violation of the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution. I believe it may also violate federal and possibly state wiretapping laws.”
In the letter presented to the Board, DTE assured Gray that they were currently working on language for an opt-out program for customers. Gray commented that they should get the opt-out program in place before they start installing the meters.
Board Chairman Jim Gelios informed Gray that the matter would be referred to the county’s legal department for possible action.
Also appearing before the Board was Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis. She asked for approval to hire two temporary part-time attorneys to replace Assisstant Prosecutor Tracy Akins. Akins will be taking maternity leave in April and could possibly be gone for 12 weeks. Ambrozaitis said there are several retired area attorneys that would be interested in filling the position.
“We have some very large cases pending, cases that will take up more time than what normal cases would,” stated Ambrozaitis. “To leave the office down with only two attorneys would be detrimental not only to the cases, but to the overall pursuit of justice.”
The Board approved Ambrozaitis’ request unanimously.
Sherry Spoolman, MSU Extension Coordinator, introduced Michelle Stiglich as the replacement 4-H Coordinator. She is replacing Nancy Petree. Spoolman also announced the return of employee Sharon Jeffrey, who will be doing foreclosure program counseling.
In other Board business, a motion was made and carried to approve the Statutory Finance Committee meeting minutes of January 22 in the amount of $132,851.73 and the minutes from February 5 in the amount of $155,027.37.
A motion was made and carried to approve the expenditures for the month of January 2013 in the amount of $1,757,058.13, with the General Fund expenditures totaling $810,804.06.
County Clerk Pam Mayfield reminded the Board of the upcoming election in May for the Beaverton School District. The election will affect Arthur Township in Clare County. Mayfield also issued the reminder that the county 9-1-1 millage expires this year.
Mayfield also announced that she had received notification from the state that Clare County will be receiving $21,728.80 from the state’s Remonumentation Fund.
County Treasurer Jenny Beemer-Fritzinger informed the Board that she had been contacted by MSHDA to participate in the Step Forward Michigan program. The program helps tax payers save property that may be going into foreclosure.
“If eligible, Clare County homeowners can get up to $30,000 in aid,” commented Jenny. ” But the application process is not easy. It is about 23 pages long, but we plan to set up something to help people fill these out.”
Veteran’s Services Director Renee Haley gave an update on the Veterans Memorial presentation held this past January. Haley said over 90 residents participated in the event, and there has been a tremendous response to the project since then.
“We have been approached by several area banks that expressed an interest in becoming unique contributors,” mentioned Haley. “We also have a 5K fundraising event coming up as well as a golf outing at the Tamarack.”
Commissioner Karen Lipovsky informed the Board she is currently investigating why Harrison Airport is paying considerably higher taxes than what the Clare Airport pays. She will report her findings at a future meeting.
Commissioner Dale Majewski gave an update on the emergency narrow band issues. He stated that the changes required by the state has created significant radio reception problems.
“When the county made the required changes to the narrow banding, we were told there should only be a 3 to 5 percent loss in reception at the most,” stated Majewski. “From a fire department standpoint, we are experiencing a lot more than that.”
Majewski estimated that the southern portion of the county experiences roughly 15 to 20 percent loss of reception due in part to the location of the south tower. Majewski is exploring several options that will allow the county to move the south tower from its current location on McNeilly hill to a location that will allow better transmission and reception.