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Local News Summary - February 21, 2018 Edition

Motion passed to pay for new 911 phone system
County commissioners have passed a motion to pay $172,808 for a Motorola phone system for 911 and three years of maintenance with Commissioner Don Edwards voting in opposition. At the Feb. 14 regular county board meeting, the board voted in favor of paying for the system, now, instead of financing at an additional cost of $5,000.

Much discussion took place about whether to finance the purchase. Financing would allow time for some 911 phone surcharge money to come in and offset the cost of the phone system, but Commissioner Bert LaFleche said it would be better to pay for it now.

“I just don’t want to have this big bill down the road,” he explained.

Donna Baranyai, 911 director, reminded commissioners the 911 equipment is old and it is common knowledge the phones need to be replaced. She also reminded them radios and possibly a radio console will have to be replaced soon. The new phone system plan includes proactive monitoring and mapping as well as maintenance.

DNR reminds anglers of ice shanty removal dates
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers that mandatory ice shanty removal dates are approaching. Regardless of the date, shanties must be removed as soon as the ice is unable to safely support them. The ice quickly can become unsafe for anglers to retrieve their property in warmer weather.

Ice shanties on Lake St. Clair must be removed by sunset Sunday, Feb. 25.

For counties in the southern Lower Peninsula, shanties must be removed from the ice by midnight Thursday, March 1.

The deadline for removal from waters in the northern Lower Peninsula is midnight Thursday, March 15. Counties in this area are Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Emmet, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Isabella, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon and Wexford.

On Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters, ice shanties must be removed by midnight Thursday, March 15. For all Upper Peninsula counties, shanties must be removed by midnight Saturday, March 31.

Following the mandatory removal dates, ice shanties still may be used but must be removed daily from the ice.

Shanty owners whose structures fall through the ice are subject to penalties of up to 30 days in jail, fines of $100 to $500, or both. If a shanty is removed by a government agency, the court can require the owner to reimburse that agency for an amount of up to three times the cost of removal.

For more information on Michigan’s ice fishing regulations and shanty removal dates, check out the 2017 Michigan Fishing Guide.

DNR conservation officers also remind individuals venturing onto the ice to use extreme caution as temperatures begin to rise in the spring. The repetitive thawing and refreezing of ice weakens its integrity, decreasing its ability to support additional weight from individuals, snowmobiles and shanties. Deteriorating ice, water currents and high winds increase the probability of pressure cracks, which can leave anglers and others stranded on ice flows or at risk of falling through the ice.

To learn more about staying safe while on the water or in the woods, visit

Governor Snyder proposes large landfill fee increases
Governor Rick Snyder would like to raise the landfill dumping fee paid to the state from 36 cents to $4.75 per ton. The proposal that would fund cleanup of contaminated sites and other environmental programs would pick up where the Clean Michigan Initiative leaves off.

The 1998 CMI bond issue approved by voters raised $675 million, but that funding is expected to be depleted this year. The new fee structure is expected to generate $79 million, annually.

“Michiganders deserve a smart and safe plan to ensure the protection of our environment and public health; today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” Snyder stated in a recent interview with another publication.

The administration seeks to solve issues with about 7,000 abandoned mills and foundaries as well as other hazardous industrial sites. Snyder has indicated he is against another bond initiative, because he estimates it will be another 10 years before Michigan’s current bonds are paid off.

“We can come up with a better initiative to keep going and do it in a way where, hopefully, we don’t leave our kids in debt after we’ve spent the money,” Snyder said.

At a recent landfill meeting, Connie Gerrie, administrator for the Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Management Authority, said the local landfill took in 72,742 tons of waste last year, which, under the new proposal, would equate to $344,242 owed to the state. Combined with other state mandates and responsibilities regarding perpetual care, Gerrie estimated the new proposal would raise the landfill’s obligation to the state to more than half a million dollars per year.

Because the state trails others in recycling rates, Cam Habermehl, landfill board member, reasoned the new proposal might be a method for pushing more people toward recycling. However, since the fee increases would likely be passed to residents, Gerrie said the proposal might cause more people to burn garbage and throw more items into wooded areas.

Gerrie suggested contacting state legislators and voicing opinions.

“It would probably be in our best interest to make some phone calls,” Gerrie said.

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Stephen E. Englehart

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