Meet your commissioner

Baraga County Board to hold regular office hours for residents

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette The Baraga County Board adopted Chair Gale Eilola’s suggestion that commissioners hold regularly scheduled office hours with constituents from 2 to 4 p.m. before the board’s monthly meetings.

L’ANSE — Baraga County residents will have another way to get in touch with their county representatives.

The County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to institute monthly meeting hours with residents before the regular board meeting.

“I think it’s important,” said Board Chair Gale Eilola, who suggested the idea. “There’s a lot of people that don’t like to come to meetings to state a problem or case.” 

Commissioners will be available to meet with constituents from 2 to 4 p.m. at the county administration building on a rotating basis. Eilola will be the first.

A maximum of two commissioners can attend each meeting to comply with the Open Meetings Act.

In other action, the board:

• Voted 5-0 to approve the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department’s Environmental Health Code. 

The health code for the six-county area primarily covers septic and well systems.  

The code will replace one that has been in effect since 1997. WUPHD Environmental Health Director Tanya Rule said the “less stringent, more science-based” code will offer more flexibility for property owners.

Commercial properties with less than 1,000 gallons per day will now fall under the WUPHD code, rather than the stricter state code, Rule said. 

“We do have a lot of pending developments that are waiting for our code to get adopted so that they can get their systems permitted and start their projects,” she said. 

Minimum septic tank sides have also been reduced for smaller buildings. Previously, even one-room cabins were required to have a septic tank sized for a two-bedroom residential home, Rule said. 

The new code also allows the WUPHD to evaluate systems based on the requirements in effect when they were installed. While people are not required to get a property inspected before buying it, some banks will require it, Rule said. 

Under the older environmental code, if the WUPHD is continuing a continued-use approval, it has to apply the requirements that would be in place for a structure built today.

“We have a lot of older mining communities, so we have a lot of historic infrastructure that’s still functioning, still adequate, but it probably doesn’t meet the very strict standard of the current code,” Rule said. 

• Approved resolutions in support of State Sen. Ed McBroom’s bills tackling “dark store” valuations of properties. The bills would create a new local review board for properties with a taxable value of more than $600,000, and also institute a new standard of highest and best use for determining value. 

• Approved salary increases for probate court employees and Jonathan Boever, who was named to the newly created position jail administrator. 

Sheriff Jim Brogan said the department had been restructured to avoid overburden the undersheriff, who had needed to oversee both day-to-day activities at the jail and the patrol division. Boever, who had been jail sergeant, received more tasks there, while the undersheriff received more tasks related to the road division. 

Boever will be paid $26.89 per hour, aligning the position with the undersheriff.

“He’s definitely outworked the title of sergeant, and I feel he should be paid accordingly for what he’s doing,” Brogan said. 

• Approved an application for a $300,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for improvements to Point Abbaye. The county would contribute another 30% in matching funds. Improvements would include accessible trails, picnic sites and rustic camping shelters. 

• Appointed Burt Mason to fill an open position on the Baraga County Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.


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