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Local News Summary - August 21, 2019 Edition

County board considers pursing a bond to pay off retirement debt
County commissioners have decided to spend $20,000 to see if pursuing a bond to pay off the retirement debt for the county employees with the most seniority makes sense. If so, the entire process would cost the county $70,000-$75,000 while saving the county about $3 million.

At the regular Aug. 14 county board meeting, Commissioner David Wagner, county board chair, said he was against bonding until he learned Rogers City officials are saving about one million dollars for seeking a bond for the same purpose.

“I thought it was just another debt,” Wagner explained.

He assured pursuing a bond would not have negative repercussions on retirement pensions and indicated a bond would protect the pensions in a worst-case budget scenario. The county has put $300,000 into the Municipal Employees Retirement System in the past couple years, but the county continues to get deeper in debt.

“I don’t see another way,” Wagner said.

According to Commissioner Daryl Peterson, the county has been keeping up with the retirement debt for newer employees but would have to borrow an estimated $7 million to clear up the debt for employees with more seniority.

“We have to do something to save the county,” Peterson said at the meeting. “Our employees deserve that pension.” MERS has not been earning the percentage on investments as was anticipated, and Peterson maintains, because the county doesn’t have debt beyond MERS, it would reflect a good credit rating that would be beneficial in pursuing a bond. The board voted in favor of paying PFN Financial Advisory Services $20,000 to determine if a bond would benefit the county.

The board also passed a motion in favor of waiving the bid process in the matter of paying for financial advisory services regarding a bond, because there are reportedly only two companies in the state qualified to provide such service.

Sinking fund projects approved for Hillman Schools
School board members in Hillman have approved sinking fund projects to take place this year. Kelly Burwell, school board president, told the Tribune the top priority is replacing shingles on the elementary school and adding roof vents.

“The roof has outlasted the life of the shingles,” Burwell told the Tribune.

The next priority is installing cameras in both school buildings, which is expected to be completed by the school’s IT specialist to save money for the district. The technician is also working on upgrading the server foundation, so the district can expand, technologically.

Doors and frames at the entrances to the elementary building are to be replaced, and technology upgrades planned include more mobile carts for laptops, a teacher workstation and replacement of lab equipment. There are also plans to upgrade the electrical system at the elementary school to accommodate added technology.

Safety starts on the way to school - School bus safety tips
ALPENA, MICH. The Michigan State Police (MSP) wants to remind parents to talk to their children about bus safety and remind motorists to share the road.

“To reduce the chance of transportation-related injuries, we encourage parents to teach their children about proper behavior around a bus,” said Community Service Trooper Ashley Simpson, Alpena Post.

Parents should talk to their children about the School Bus Danger Zones that extend 10 feet from the bus in all directions. When leaving the bus, children should walk 10 feet away from the bus before turning. Children crossing in front of the bus should move forward away from the bus until they can make eye contact with the driver. They should never cross in front of the bus without the driver’s permission.

Additional safety tips for parents to share with their children:

• Have a safe place to wait for the bus, away from traffic and the street.

• Do not run or play while waiting for the bus.

• Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver. Never go behind the bus.

• Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.

• Walk to the bus stop with a buddy.

• Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard. Never cross the street against a light, even if you do not see traffic coming.

• Do not talk to strangers. Tell your parents if a stranger tries to talk to you.

• Never leave with a stranger or get into a stranger’s vehicle.

Motorists are reminded to pay attention to school bus lights and observe the school bus stop law. Locally in the Alpena area buses are equipped with cameras, allowing law enforcement to observe vehicles in violation of active school bus lights after the event has taken place.

When approaching a school bus with its lights activated, motorists should always:

• Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing.

• Come to a complete stop at least 20 feet away from the bus when its overhead red lights are flashing. Do not proceed until the bus resumes motion and/or you are signaled to do so by the bus driver.

• Proceed with caution when the hazard warning lights, located near the headlights, are flashing.

Death Notices
Full obituaries are in the Tribune print & paid online edition
Susan E. Bliss
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