Keweenaw County, Shorewaves can’t come together on contract

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette A number of commissioners, including Del Rajala (left), Don Piche (center), and Sandra Gayk, seemed to be running thin on patience with repeated rejections by to accept offered rental contract agreements.

EAGLE RIVER — Another attempt at an agreement between Keweenaw County and failed when Steve Fitzgerald, president of the internet provider, said he could not sign the agreement as it was written by Chuck Miller, the county’s attorney.

Fitzgerald told the board at a meeting Wednesday the agreement leaves him no protections,and omitted several points he believed had been agreed upon during an earlier meeting between himself, Commissioner Del Rajala, equalization director Ann Gasperich and Sheriff Bill Luokkanen. At that meeting, Fitzgerald offered a counter proposal to the county’s agreement.

“We did eventually receive another update from the county,” Fitzgerald said. “Unfortunately, it undid several important things we had done in our meeting.”

Fitzgerald said from ShoreWaves’ point of view, he has a draft of an agreement that is hostile to the provider continuing its investment in the county, saying because it was a progression from Proposal A to counter proposal to committee meeting, back to several points in Proposal A, he was not sure it made sense to go into another round until he learns what the committee would like to do.

Just one of the things Fitzgerald said he disagreed with was a point of the contract stating the county can terminate its agreement any time upon a 30-day prior written agreement.

“Would you lease an apartment under those circumstances?” Fitzgerald said. “I certainly can’t make business investment under those conditions. In our counter proposal, we had laid out a fairly detail process for proposing getting approval of wrapping up any additions of equipment, even though those are still in there, it came back that, ‘If you want to move any piece of equipment, you have to get written approval from the county.'”

He said under those conditions, it would require ShoreWaves to get permission to even remove a piece of equipment to replace it with something else, and would also make emergency repairs extremely difficult.

He went on to say because of his service, people in motel rooms in Copper Harbor can now pick up a phone and dial 911, which was not previously possible. He asked what board members wanted.

Board Chairman Don Piche responded that everything Fitzgerald wants removed from the contract is contained in the agreement with

“It’s the same type of government contract that that is done elsewhere,” Rajala said.

After several minutes of further discussion, Rajala, Piche and Commissioner Sandy Gayk agreed the contract negotiations, which have been on-going for several months, needed to be resolved. To that end, they said, Fitzgerald had the first contract agreement, and now he had an amended agreement, both of which were drafted by Miller, and those were Fitzgerald’s options.

Fitzgerald then requested another 30 days to decide on whether to, or how to proceed. The board agreed and listed he matter for the May meeting agenda as unfinished business.