New Houghton County Arena bleachers needed to comply with ADA

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette The Portage Lake Multi-Educational Services, Inc., operators of the Houghton County Arena, plan to replace the wooden bleachers at the arena with aluminum bleachers this year.

HANCOCK — There are several projects planned at the Houghton County Arena, and one of them is the replacement of the bleachers, which don’t meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

David Hermanson, president of the Portage Lake Multi-Educational Services, Inc, managers and operators of the arena, said Houghton County received a $45,000 Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Passport grant for the bleacher project. A matching grant of $45,000 puts the total about $10,000 short of what is expected to be needed to replace the current bleachers with aluminum ones.

Doug Hembroff, PLMES board member, said the wooden bleachers were built sometime in the late 1980s.

Hermanson said before the DNR grant can be received, at least three competitive bids for the installation of the new bleachers must be received, but the PLMES board has an idea of about what it will cost.

“We’re looking at about $100,000,” he said.

Hermanson said the new aluminum bleachers will be 160 feet long with six tiers of seating. The structure will have spaces for eight wheelchairs and access ramps will be installed.

It’s uncertain exactly how the current bleachers will be removed, but Hermanson said he hopes that work can be done with volunteer labor. It’s also uncertain what will be done with the wooden bleachers after removal.

Hermanson said he would like the contractors doing the work installing the new bleachers to be as local as possible.

Hembroff said the PLMES board would like to have the bleacher work done this construction season.

“We fully expect it to be,” he said.

Other projects needed at the arena are the replacement of the roof, and removing rust from the roof support beams inside the building, Hermanson said. Those two projects will be done by the county, which owns the building.

Hermanson said the PLMES is fundraising for the bleachers, a dehumidifier to reduce the build-up of condensation on the beams, and a new ice plant. The current ice plant uses a type of freon, which is being phased out.

The PLMES receives revenue from ice rental, and ads placed on the boards around the ice, Hermanson said. The ice, boards and glass around the ice, ice plant and Zamboni are assets for the PLMES.

To donate to the PLMES for its projects, go online to