The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ontonagon commissioners listen to workers regarding courthouse safety concerns



Ontonagon — Security in the Ontonagon County Courthouse for workers was addressed at the Ontonagon County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

A number of employees attended the session. Janice Erickson, a spokesperson for the employees, said the recent active shooter session with state police, county deputies and other law enforcement officials opened their eyes to some of the safety issues employees could face.

Erickson said in previous years employees knew the faces of those coming in and out of the courthouse, but with the migration of people leaving the area, times are changing. She cited some of the violence in courthouses, schools and other closed areas around the nation. She said talks with sheriff Dale Rantala and other officers made employees aware there is a need for a security plan

Erickson noted employees are aware of the financial problems facing the county, but would like commissioners to work with employees to update security and make it a top priority. She asked the county to appoint two members to work with Mike Kocher, of emergency services, Rantala and several employees to discuss security concerns.

The commission appointed Gray Webber and John Cane to work with employees and law enforcement.

The board agreed to hire Roger Haapala, RN, to provide CPR training for employees. Haapala will be paid $25 per employee for a total of $575. Research will also be done to determine if a grant is available for training.

A second security concern was also addressed when the board authorized a fire-bar ring for the phone system. Craig Immonen, of the Ontonagon County Telephone Company. said a similar ring was installed for the fire department several years ago. The $24 a month installation would enable the clerk to dial a certain number and all the phones in every office would have a distinctive ring. Any employee could then alert others of any problem.

The board also approved purchase of 26 small, 2.5-pound fire extinguishers for each office in the courthouse.

The board will get information on acquiring an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator for the courthouse.

Prior to the regular session of the board, a public hearing on the county’s five-year plan was held.  Don Helsel, of MiTrale, and Kathy Wainio both pointed to some errors in the plan, particularly in signage. Webber asked if any of the errors changed the use listed in the plan and Helsel said they didn’t, but the corrections should be made.

The board approved the recreation plan noting the modifications in the verbiage could be done at a later date.

In other action, the county board:

—Approved installation of a system monitor on the boiler by the Ontonagon County Telephone Company.

—Approved continuance of the 51-cent- surcharge for maintenance on the 911 system.

—Accepted the resignation of E. David Jaris from the Ontonagon County Economic Development Corporation and will post the position.

—Approved Brownfield Authority bylaws.

—Approved the county park maintenance contract with park manager John Wilmes.

—Supported the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region in its application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program.


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