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Local resident wants to help homeowners

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette Ontonagon County is looking to find a program similar to the Critical Home Repair program that serves Keweenaw, Houghton and Baraga counties.

ONTONAGON — Local homeowners on fixed or low incomes need financial assistance to do critical home repairs, resident Dan Szymanski told the Village Council on Monday.

“I understand the Critical Home Repair program is only available to homeowners in Houghton, Baraga and Keweenaw counties,” Szymanski stated in his opening comments during the meeting’s public comment session. “As you know we lost the White Pine copper mine. More than 1000 employees lost their jobs, meaning the region lost over $30 million in annual payroll.”

A member of the Ontonagon Village Planning Committee, Szymanski went on to say, “The mine also generated another $30 million in annual purchases.”

He also referred to the closing of Smurfit-Stone and the loss of 182 jobs.

When it came to funding a program like this, Szymanski brought up the loss of the Ontonagon Habitat For Humanity (HFH).

When an Ontonagon resident was charged for the theft of funds HFH had in the bank, the remaining funds were transferred to Copper Country Habitat for Humanity.

Another idea brought up was the possibility of getting help from the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR).

Council member Mike Mogen asked if the Community Action Agency (CAA) had a program similar to the Critical Home Repair program.

“I asked a representative from CAA to attend tonight’s meeting, and they would not attend. They do not have a program like this that would help,” Szymanski said.

Council President Ken Waldrop said he needs to go through the county and possibly Habitat for Humanity from the Copper Country.

The remaining funds, along with the numerous Ontonagon Habitat for Humanity funds, are now in the hands of the Copper Country Habitat for Humanity.

Village resident Bill Johnson suggested Szymanski contact the former chairman of the Ontonagon HFH, Brian Mason, for contact information to the Copper Country Habitat for Humanity.

On other action, the council voted to continue the program to give village employees and council members a $50 Pat’s Foods gift certificate as a Christmas gift.

The council unanimously approved the use of the Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers (MASTERS) Racing Circuit to use village property for a snowmobile race on Jan. 12.

The race will be held at either the village property adjacent to the North Country Snowmobile Club or the non-developed portion of James K. Paul Street.