ONTONAGON - The Ontonagon County Board Tuesday settled a long standing lawsuit aimed at a Revolving Loan recipient who was in default. Spencer Ward had obtained a $117,000 loan from the Revolving Loan Fund to build and operate Woulo Creek Kennels. Only a small part of the debt was repaid. Following a closed session the board agreed to settle the suit for $4,000 a month for 11 months.
The county also agreed to accept some of the financial obligations of the Economic Development Corporation. The remainder of the Revolving Loan Funds is in excess of $600,000 and is now a part of the regionalized revolving loan monies as ordered by the state.
The state has a contract with Northern Initiative and a board, including an Ontonagon representative, will decide where funds will be loaned. The Ontonagon County funds are targeted for Ontonagon County projects for the next two years. The board approved transferring the RLF to the regional board with the exception of $10,000 for county administrative purposes. The board also approved an EDC budget of $6,593.54 for the next year.
The board cited opposition to a proposed state senate bill which would eliminate telephone landlines. The bill eliminates the authority of the Michigan Public Service Commission to oversee the discontinuance of basic land line telephone service and instead places that authority with the Federal Communications Commission. The Michigan Association of Counties, AARP, Law Enforcement, 911 providers and others oppose the bill.
Commissioner Dale Parent said the impetus for the bill came from downstate and cell service in the Upper Peninsula is spotty. "Some places have no service," he said. Commissioner Carl Nykanen said that the Ontonagon County Telephone company is a county taxpayer, sponsors local events and provides good service to the area. They also agreed with the opinion of MAC that elimination of the requirement to provide basic landline service will inhibit the ability of many Ontonagon County residents to call for emergency help.
Emergency Services Director Bill Johnson reported the Ontonagon 911 service has been able to use a portion of funds to pay for new address signs. Johnson said he has now been notified that 911 funds can no longer be used for the signs. He said he has " strongly disagreed with that decision," but to violate it would place the rest of 911 fund in jeopardy. The county agreed not to use any of the 911 surcharge for the signs.
In other action, the board:
-Re-elected Dale Parent as vice-chairman.
-Decided to order an escape ladder and determine if it is workable for second floor offices.
-Will continue to keep the contract for Top Cop map maintenance at a cost of $1,300 for the year.
-Named Joe Domitrovich as Remonumentation Representative.
-Authorized Clerk Stacey Preiss as agent for DNR grant applications.
-Approved contracts with the courthouse, transit and Sheriff Department workers.
-Made appointments of board members to various committees.