Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood to upgrade its computer network


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Ironwood — The Ironwood City Commission on Monday approved a $21,474 bid to replace an aging file server that is essential to city operations.

The 4-1 approval came after lengthy discussion on the need for the servers with input from Paul Linn, city finance director and treasurer, and Eric Ritter, the city’s information technology consultant with The Computer Doctors in Ironwood. The two said the current file server at the Memorial Building is 8 years old and nearly doubled its normal life span and is starting to fail. 

“At this point we are keeping it running, but it needs to be replaced,” Linn said. “If our existing server were to completely fail, it would cause a large amount of downtime for city staff and the possible loss of important files.”

The work to replace the system that handles the city computer network, virtual accounts and all data storage started over a year ago, Linn said. After exploring several options the plan forward will involve a transition using IT specialists to keep systems up and running while new hardware is installed, data is copied over to the new system and updated software is installed.

“The funds for this purchase are budgeted and included in the current general fund’s computer/IT department budget,” Linn said. 

Commissioner Rick Semo said that to blanket approve a request that hasn’t gone out for bid was troubling. A presentation on what was needed and why, such as why the second server needs to be as powerful to run just one software package, would have helped, he said.

Ritter said the cost is not for the hardware alone but the installation, labor and data transfer.  The current Microsoft licensing is specific to the old servers and the upgrade requires new licensing costing several thousand dollars, he said. The powerful servers will eliminate the need for several separate servers for the BS&A software used by Michigan municipalities which is also to help satisfy software compliance agreements.

“There will be multiple technicians working at the same time to keep service going during the transition,” Ritter said. “They will be working with the individual software companies and making sure the data is backed up and there will be a project manager.”

Semo was the lone no vote against the bid award to The Computer Doctors. He said he didn’t doubt the need or the ability of the company.

“I don’t know if there is anyone else in the area that can do this project but I feel that we could be looking around to see if this is our best choice,” Semo said.

Mayor Annette Burchell said that it was the recommendation of the city IT department to work with the company because of confidence that was developed with past work. Commissioner Jim Mildren said that was why he made the motion to approve the bid.

The commission approved the purchase of two parcels of land that will become the Downtown City Square Project. The land was appraised at $37,000, with a 75% reimbursement from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The city had already paid $2,500 in the purchase agreement and will assume closing costs, said Tom Bergman, director of city community development. The city is responsible for the remaining $6,750 balance after reimbursement. 

The $1.7 million investment of mostly Community Development Block Grant funds that are designated for high impact downtown economic development projects. The goal is to attract more people to the downtown and the business district along with retention of talent and to attract new businesses to the area, he said.  The project is expected to start soon with much of the work to be completed this year.

Commissioner Jim Mildren reflected on the work over the years to develop the Depot Park and the Iron Belle Trail. He said that young families flock to the amenities to walk and bike with their children.

“This Downtown City Square project will be one more reason why young families will love to own homes in Ironwood,” Mildren said. “It’s a great project, thank you.”

The commission adopted a resolution exempting and excluding law enforcement, public works and other essential workers and support staff from the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The resolution allows for case-by-case consideration should situations arise.

The commission approved a request from the Pat O’Donnell Civic Center Board to obtain bids for replacement of the dasher boards that circle the hockey rink. The existing boards are original to the rink and more than 40 years old, said Scott Erickson, city manager.

“The civic center board has budgeted funds for replacement of the boards and is soliciting three replacement alternatives,” Erickson said. “A full replacement, a refurbishing of the existing board, or to purchase used boards.”

In his report, Erickson said that jets from the 148th Fighter Wing of the U.S. Air Force Reserve in Duluth will be conducting a flyover of Aspirus Hospital Ironwood at 11:25 a.m. The flyover is to honor the response of medical and first responders in the area for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In other business, the commission approved:

-Authorizing quotes for updating up to 29 sink faucets to touchless in the city of Ironwood facilities and parks.

-The mayor’s appointment of Stephanie Holloway to complete the term of a vacated seat on the city planning commission through Dec. 31, 2021.

-A $7,475 water main leak detection bid to Consulting Engineering, Inc., of Clarksburg, Maryland. The bid was the second lowest of seven bids.

-A $34,423 bid from P.K. Contracting for the 2020 pavement striping project to include yellow curb painting, handicap symbols and parking lot lines. The funding is in the current streets budget. 

Going into executive session for AFSCME Local 1538 collective bargaining agreement negotiations. No action was taken coming back into public session.

The next regular meeting will be held virtually and broadcast on Facebook at 5:30 p.m.Tuesday, May 26, because of Memorial Day on Monday.

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