Alcona signs contracts with officers, jailers

HARRISVILLE – The Alcona County Board of Commissioners signed contracts with unions representing law enforcement officers and jailers after its meeting Wednesday.

“I thought the negotiations went well,” Chairman Kevin Boyat said after a closed session. “They’re a very good bunch of people to work with and there were no bumps in the road.”

Boyat and Commissioners Bill Thompson, Kathy Vichunas and Sheila Phillips spent dozens of hours reading, studying documents, strategizing and negotiating with five separate unions that represent a bulk of the county’s employees.

The new, three-year contracts go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, he said.

Sheriff’s department employees and jailers were represented by the Commanding Officers Association of Michigan and the Patrol Officers Association of Michigan, and all have agreed to a 35 cent raise across the board, Boyat said.

“As a working person it’s low,” Boyat said. “But with today’s market and the way things are happening, it’s fair.”

Employees will continue to chip in funds for their health care plans, after the county opted to go with a state-established hard cap health insurance plan in 2013, he said. Schedules for uniform and cleaning allowances were also were moved around.

Negotiations are still being completed with county clerk and treasurer’s employees represented by the 214 Operating Engineers Union, he said.

The commissioners scheduled a 10 a.m. meeting Dec. 27 to consider that contract. They also will consider a contract with emergency medical services staff represented by the 325 Operating Engineers Union.

One of the last contracts involves dispatch employees, who are represented by a 911 board, and those talks also are moving forward, Boyat said.

In other business, the commissioners heard requests from Kelley Hiemstra of the Michigan State University Extension office in Harrisville. Hiemstra wanted permission to buy a large new table and chairs for the office on US-23, but Thompson advised her to wait until a lease with the building owner is transferred to the county.

District Court Administrator Jennifer Huebel sought a pay increase for three court-appointed attorneys. David Riffel, Keith Moir and Joe Wasche Jr., will receive an additional $250 each, putting their annual wages for their services at $26,645 each. The attorneys provide legal representation for low-income residents in the 81st District Court, 23rd Circuit Court and Family Court.

The raise will not affect the budget, Huebel said because she built in a 2 percent increase to cover the expense.

In other business:

* the sheriff’s office was expecting delivery Wednesday of a 2014 Chevy Impala, which will go into service next year as a patrol car once equipped and marked.

* Sheriff Doug Atchinson said he received a $12,000 grant to purchase a 2014 Yamaha 700 ORV and trailer, which will be used for patrol work on trails and off-road rescue work. The vehicle should be in operation by late spring.

* the commissioners are waiting for a new county website to be completed by an outside company. Although the firm’s services are considered inexpensive, progress has been very slow.

* Phillips lauded the Alcona County Road Commission for keeping pavement cleared during recent snow storms, despite the lack of an appropriate maintenance facility and shortage of equipment.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.