Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

WUPHD may use Wakefield as COVID-19 testing site


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Wakefield — Members of the Wakefield City Council learned Monday that the city’s municipal building may serve as a site for COVID-19 testing and/or immunizations.

City Manager Robert Brown, Jr. reported that the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department in Hancock has requested to use the municipal building gym as a site to administer COVID-19 testing.

He said that it could be just a one-time event before the end of the year or possibly could involve weekly sessions during the first couple months of 2021. Payment for the space would depend upon the number of scheduled sessions.

The request is “still in the works,” he added, assuring that “nothing’s been confirmed so far.”

“I am not a fan of it at all,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Amy Tarro. “Why are we bringing sick people into a building that has not been open to the public since August?”

“I don’t want to put any of our office staff at risk,” said Mayor Dale White, but he also conceded that many other places do not wish to “step up to the plate” to allow use of their own facilities.

If the sessions do take place, White said proper sanitation of the area must occur afterward.

Brown said it’s possible that a traffic flow arrangement could be arranged to minimize or avoid contact with anyone outside of the gym.

In a phone call after the virtual meeting, Brown told the Globe, “I trust the health department enough that they would not put our staff or other residents at risk.”

In other news, council members voted to approve an inter-local agreement in relation to a new state mandate that each county must hire a designated assessor who can take over as needed when regularly-hired assessors are unable to fulfill their duties or have not enacted them correctly.

“It’s kind of a non-issue for us right now,” said Brown, implying that no problems exist with the ongoing use of City Assessor Melissa Prisbe.

Under the new mandate, Brown said the city must pay $85 annually as a retainer fee in case it ever needs to tap the service of Kathy Jo Koval, MAAO, MCPPE, who recently was named to the new position of designated assessor.

Koval is also Gogebic County’s equalization director.

All six townships and three municipalities within the county are signing the agreement.

Council members also:

—Voted to approve two resolutions relating to a transfer of signing authority from outgoing Treasurer Sherry Ravelli to incoming Treasurer Mandy Lake, effective on Friday.

—Voted to approve 2021 equipment rental rates as presented by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

—Heard the mayor commend the city manager for his “unbelievable” level of work, particularly under the duress of pandemic challenges.