Ontonagon Housing Commision looks at improvements

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette Pictured are Ontonagon Village Housing Commission board members Richard Ernest, Joe Erickson, Sue Kempen. The board is looking at investing over $50,000 in capital improvements.

At the monthly meeting of the Ontonagon Village Housing Commission (OVHC), the board approved a motion to propose changes in their capital improvements budget. While the changes would have to go through a legally-mandated protocol, it is the first step toward improvements to area apartments.

Board member Joe Erickson proposed to purchase and install humidistats in 60 units. Erickson also proposed installation of rigid foam insulation around the perimeters of the buildings, including the landscaping for this project. In addition to these, Erickson further proposed adding insulation to the attics of the residential buildings.

“I also suggest to convert one four-unit building to hydronic fan convection heating units,” Erickson said. “They would be fueled by either natural gas or liquid propane.”

When OVHC Director Sally Jarvey asked about the legality of changing the current capital improvement budget, Erickson referred to Housing and Urban Development’s criteria that allows modification to the five-year plan.

“To meet the Housing Commission’s criteria to amend the five-year plan, we have three criteria,” Erickson said. “This includes new operational cost-saving when the opportunity occurs, along with an improvement in residents’ qualify of life (and) finally, when an unforeseen necessity occurs.”

The board approved presenting the expenditure of $56,305 in changes to the 2018 Capital Improvements Plan and Budget.

Jarvey pointed out that it was the OVHC Secretary Sue Lockhart that has saved the OVHC thousands of dollars in grants she obtained for security cameras, refrigerators, and LED lighting.

In what has become routine at the start of every monthly board meeting, board member Richard Ernest voted against approving the prior month’s meetings’ minutes. Ernest voted against both the regular January meeting minutes, and those of the special meeting, which addressed the hiring of an attorney.

The minutes were still approved by Erickson and board member Sue Kempen.

OVHC President Pam Cooey was not in attendance of the meeting and another board member, Dorothy Phillips, was unable to make it to the start of the meeting.

Area resident Carlene Morningstar addressed the board about the “get-together” the OVHC hosted last Saturday. Morningstar also talked about how optimistic she is in the formation of an OVHC Resident Advisory Board.

Ernest, Erickson, and Jarvey all praised Morningstar and the OVHC staff for the gathering.

While kudos were being passed around in an uncommon fashion for the OVHC monthly board meetings, the controversial topic of the hiring and financing of an outside law firm changed the tone of the meeting.

Cooey made contact with the legal firm hired, Kendricks, Bordeau, Greenlee, and Seavoy. This was to set up a conference call with an attorney from the firm.

The firm proposed the conference call to be in mid-March, however Ernest would be unavailable at this time. The board is now looking at finding a date for the conference call that the entire board could participate.

When asked if this meeting of the board and the conference call would fall under the Open Meetings act, Ernest was unsure.

“This will be up to the attorney,” he said.