Dickinson OKs energy project payment

Board also agrees to help Kiwanis Ski Club on Pine Mountain venue improvements

IRON MOUNTAIN — A contractor will receive the final payment for an energy conservation project launched more than two years ago at Dickinson County’s courthouse and correctional center, with commissioners saying they’re now satisfied with the nearly $1 million venture.

The county in August 2015 issued $905,000 in capital improvement bonds for an energy performance contract with Trane Inc.

The project was considered substantially complete in June 2016, but problems lingered and until Monday the county withheld a roughly $44,000 payment to Trane.

The main issue was maintaining consistent temperatures in two of the jail’s cell blocks.

“They said they would correct it and they did,” Commissioner John Degenaer Jr. said.

Three company representatives attended Monday’s meeting, including Jim Krol, who said an audit shows the county has saved $43,653 in energy costs through July 30, 2017.

The project included mechanical, control, lighting, water and building envelope upgrades at the courthouse and correctional center. Two new chillers were purchased, along with digital control systems.

“Not much had been done in the past 20 years,” Krol said.

The borrowing, meanwhile, will be paid over 20 years, ending in 2035. “In the long run, we’ll be better off,” Controller Brian Bousley said.

In other action, the county board:

— Had a public hearing and formally adopted an amendment to the county recreation plan to potentially help the Kiwanis Ski Club make improvements at the Pine Mountain ski jump. The club, through the county, hopes to get a Michigan Department of Natural Trust Fund grant to build a lodge for special events and serve as a warming building for jumpers. The club also wants to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for a new judges’ tower, restrooms and a path from the parking lot to a scenic overlook. Educational kiosks on the history of ski jumping and points of interest are proposed as well near the veterans memorial at the top of Pine Mountain.

— Reappointed Diann Gendron, Joseph Larson and Barbara Bedard to three-year terms on the Dickinson County Fair Board. Missy Spade also applied.

— Reappointed Michael Zevitz and Robert Roberge to three-year terms on the Northpointe Behavioral Healthcare Systems Board and reappointed Wally Townsend to a three-year term on the Dickinson County Planning Commission. A vacancy remains on the planning commission.

— Heard Kingsford resident Brian Smeester express concerns the planned acquisition of Dickinson County Healthcare System by Bellin Health of Green Bay, Wis., will lead to a loss of local services. Smeester suggested, without response, that Gov. Rick Snyder be asked to appoint an emergency financial manager for DCHS. Later, Commissioner Joe Stevens simply said negotiations with Bellin are ongoing. Financially troubled DCHS signed a letter of intent in December to explore the possibility of being acquired by Bellin, with a purchase agreement to be finalized by summer. Bellin and DCHS have said their goal is to expand services.