By EVAN REID
CRYSTAL FALLS - The Iron County Board of Commissioners has voted to extend a local state of emergency until May 16.
On March 25, Board Chair James Brennan declared a local state of emergency for Iron County regarding frozen water lines and other issues caused by harsh winter conditions.
According to the Michigan Emergency Management Act, a declaration of a local state of emergency made by a chief executive official shall not be continued or renewed for more than seven days without the consent of the governing body of the county or municipality.
The board now waits to see if its request for a state of emergency declaration by Gov. Snyder is approved. If the governor makes a declaration, state resources could be provided to Iron County communities in need.
Iron County will continue to track expenses and damage caused the by the abnormal winter as they accrue.
Chippewa, Gogebic, Marquette and Mackinac counties have already declared states of emergency.
Lt. Vernon Jones of the Iron County Sheriff's Office recommended that the board approve the state of emergency extension.
"The sheriff's office has taken this situation very seriously," Jones said. "We are all aware that we have a big problem that is not readily apparent, and it is ongoing."
Damage to water lines will only continue as frost moves out of the ground, he added, making the extension essential.
Jones cautioned the board that emergency management is designed to address immediate concerns, such as the aftermath of violent storms, and the prolonged nature of the issues faced by the county may have an effect on the decision to provide state assistance.
Steven Tinti, Iron County's civil counsel, said that the scope of the problem faced by the county is not yet evident. He predicted that roads could be significantly damaged as water line operations continue into the spring.
The vote to extend the local state of emergency for Iron County was unanimous.
Evan Reid's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.