Village changes in Ontonagon

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Ontonagon Village Council members in session. From left to right: Don Chastan, Elmer Marks and Mike Mogan.

ONTONAGON — The village council met Monday to make changes to village office operations and planned a budget workshop to discuss project funding.

Notably, for village residents, the village hours will be reduced starting Monday, Feb. 19, due to staffing difficulties. Public hours will now begin at 10 a.m., instead of 8 a.m. As village clerk and treasurer Marcia Aho-Black is on leave, for medical reasons, the billing and payroll clerk is struggling to fill that gap.

“We are running a two-person office with one person and she is overwhelmed,” Trustee Bruce Seid said.

The council unanimously approved the change with Village Manager Joe Erickson stating the hours should return to the original times by April 1. The village council plans on seeking a part-time employee moving forward though budget finalization is needed.

A public budget workshop was set for Monday, Feb. 19, at 4 p.m. in the village council room. Areas of budget discussion include funding for the Downtown Development Authority, UPSET law enforcement, and office staffing.

Trustee Tony Smydra raised the issue of a housing commission term expiring in March and recommended the council reappoint Rich Ernest to the position once it expired.

“Mr. Ernest is a current member of the housing commission and very active and incredibly responsible,” Smydra explained.

The council unanimously approved the move.

The council also unanimously approved a grant sponsorship request for backcountry rescue equipment to be used in Ontonagon and Eastern Gogebic County. The Friends of the Porkies are seeking a two percent grant from the Lac Vieux Desert Tribe in Watersmeet and required a government sponsor.

In public comment, Jim Miles complimented the village for a fine job with lighting upgrade at the village recreation building.

“That’s a really big improvement, pat yourselves on the back,” Miles said.

Tom Hamilton also addressed the board, questioning members about the village city and water bonds, bills and records.

Village president Ken Waldrop requested that questions be submitted in advance giving the village time to find the answers.

“Don’t expect us to just come up off the top of our heads,” Waldrop said.

Hamilton indicated he would be filing a freedom of information act to obtain information on the water systems and related debts and bonds.

Waldrop stated that that information would need to be looked into with the questions to be answered at a later date.