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Local News Summary - March 22, 2023 Edition

Tigers win regional championship
The Hillman Tigers have won the regional championship and are off to the state quarter finals against Frankfort’s Panthers on March 21 in Gaylord. Before tackling the Irish from Mt. Pleasant’s Sacred Heart Academy for the trophy, the Tigers had to get through the Cardinals from the Saginaw Lutheran Seminary.

The Cardinals showed promise early in the first quarter of the semi-final regional game, but the Tigers were quick to dash their hopes of advancing. Hillman’s A. J. Jones zeroed in with a buzzer-beating triple from three-quarters of a court away from the net to put the Tigers up by 10 at the end of the first. Tiger Brenden Rouleau, a sophomore, was spectacular with long shots from the side, and Trenton Taratuta added 26 of his career points in the game that ended 74-60, Tigers.

The Irish from Mt. Pleasant, however, presented a tougher challenge in the championship game. The teams were tied at the end of the first quarter, and the Tigers were up by only one point at the halftime break. Hillman was relying on outside shots that weren’t falling instead of driving inside while the Irish penetrated defense, drawing fouls for chances from the line. Brody Appelgren stepped up on steals and rebounds for Hillman, and Caleb Hiveley transformed himself into a giant spider, wrapping around the opposition in the corners and on the sidelines to help Hillman to a 10-point lead going into the final quarter.

The Irish came within seven points early in the fourth with a triple but would never get any closer. Taratuta was tapping in his own misses as well as those of other teammates. With the game slipping away for Sacred Heart, the Irish began a series of intentional fouls, but the free throws for Hillman were landing. Both benches came into the game as the Irish conceded the loss in the championship that ended 65-53, Tigers, advancing Hillman to the state quarter finals.

A fan of the Irish told the Tribune she was made well-aware of the threat Taratuta posed prior to the championship game. The fan’s fears were realized with Taratuta chalking up 23 points during the championship. Taratuta had already broken Hillman High School’s record for points in a season during this year’s district championship against Mio. The record was set in 2015 by Mason VanPamel and his 627 season points. Through the regional championship, Taratuta has a current total of 712 points for the season. This is the fourth regional championship for the Tigers in the past nine years.

MCCOA board considers wage increases for employees
Board members for the Montmorency County Commission on Aging are considering wage increases for employees. At the March 16 regular board meeting, Harmony Lewis, director of MCCOA, said the financial impact of increases at five percent and seven percent have been calculated.

Five percent wage increases would cost MCCOA an additional $1,125 in payroll every two weeks. Corleen “Corky” Proulx, board member, reminded board members wages were reviewed and adjusted about one year ago, but Randy Wiscombe, board chair, said MCCOA must remain competitive to retain employees.

“There are several more who could be brought up,” Lewis echoed.

In another matter, Laurie Sauer, Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency, told board members more requirements for NEMCSA will be passed down to commissions on aging. An upcoming session for COAs will address Medicaid as redeterminations for Medicaid recipients will take place during a 12-month phase-in period.

“If they don’t complete the paperwork, they will lose that coverage,” Sauer stated.

A program for home care aides focuses on training for those providing care in homes as opposed to those providing care in facilities. Sauer said one trained staff person will be able to train other staff members, but she did not have a cost figure for the training at the time of the meeting.

Student resource officer funding still undecided by county board
The jury is still out on whether county commissioners will approve student resource officers for county school districts that have been approved for grant funding. For three years, the grant funding would pay for half of an officer’s salary, leaving each the school district and county on the hook for about one-quarter of the annual cost at approximately $25,000.

Many thought a decision would be made at the county board meeting on March 16. Multiple attempts to convene to discuss the matter have been canceled. At the recent board meeting, some commissioners said they were not prepared to decide on school resource officers, and an SRO special study session has been scheduled for March 29 at 9 a.m.

There is already an SRO in place for Hillman Community Schools. That district did not wait for grant funding or a contribution from the county, but such financial assistance would help ensure an officer stays in place serving the district. According to Aprille Williamson, county controller, the superintendent for Atlanta Community Schools would like a student resource officer to begin serving the students in Atlanta on Aug. 1.

“Everybody wants it to happen,” said Commissioner Dell Bolser, adding he wasn’t prepared to say which parts of the county budget could be changed to enable SROs.

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Jon L. Rise
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