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IM council OKs summer Gus Macker

IRON MOUNTAIN — Local organizers plan to bring a Gus Macker outdoor basketball tournament to Iron Mountain the weekend of July 17-18.

The city council authorized the dates Monday. Street closures will be finalized once the size of the event is known.

A 2020 tournament, scheduled for June 5-7, was postponed due to the pandemic, with a tentative date in June 2021 announced in April.

The committee now prefers having it later in the summer, organizer Barb Reisner told the council.

Meeting via Zoom, Mayor Dale Alessandrini informed Reisner the event will coincide with the annual Saturday in the Park fundraiser for City Park. After some discussion, they found no reason to change the date of either event.

Organizers are open to health precautions such as temperature-testing the players, Reisner said.

“They’ve got to get that vaccine out to those who want it,” Alessandrini said.

Reisner noted a mid-July date may coincide realistically with COVID-19 vaccine timelines.

Many years ago, Iron Mountain was known for having one of the largest Gus Macker tournaments in the nation. Courts lined Stephenson Avenue and stretched into neighboring streets, parking lots and tennis courts.

The Macker’s return, after a two-decade hiatus, will be centered closer to Iron Mountain High School. At a minimum, tentative street closures include Carpenter Avenue from Ludington to West B streets, along with parts of Hughitt Street and Prospect Avenue.

The tournament again is planned as a fundraiser for the Imagination Factory Children’s Museum, in the upper Central School site at 217 W. Hughitt St.

In other action, the council:

— Reviewed the city’s 2019-20 fiscal year audit with Scott Sternhagen of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. As of June 30, the city had a general fund balance of $2.8 million, up about $40,000 from a year ago. While that amount is more than adequate, Sternhagen said, the bigger issue is unfunded liabilities for retiree health and pension benefits. Actuarial estimates put the total at about $54 million.

“I don’t have to reiterate how big that number is,” the auditor said. Still, with corrective measures in place, the estimate is down from other recent years.

“We didn’t get there in one day and we’re not going to get out of it in one day,” City Manager Jordan Stanchina said. The fund balance provides a buffer for payments going forward, but fiscal diligence will be needed for many years to come, he said.

— Accepted a bid not to exceed $66,637 to replace a boiler at the Public Works building, provided it meets specifications. Energy Control & Design of Appleton, Wis., was the only bidder and the cost had been roughly estimated at $60,000. Only one of the two boilers original to the 1993 building still works. The contractor will provide a pair of 400,000 BTU boilers along with controls, distribution line replacement and other improvements.

— Learned 28 deer were culled during this year’s managed archery hunt, compared with 16 in 2019, but 51 in 2018 when baiting still was permitted under Michigan Department of Natural Resources rules.

Stanchina said the city should consider incentives to boost the harvest this fall. “There’s way too many deer in the neighborhoods in town,” he said.

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