Alcona County gets updates on departments, website

HARRISVILLE More than a dozen Alcona County department heads met Tuesday to give a round of reports on how the county is doing.

Chaired by Alcona County Commissioner Kevin Boyat, the group also tackled the issue of getting its website updated and running as soon as possible.

“The biggest complaint I’ve gotten in the last three to four years is about the website,” Boyat said, kicking off the 9 a.m. meeting in the county commissioner’s basement hearing room. “We’re ready to get our website up and going. But we have a lot of things people haven’t put down that we need.”

County officials said they need the information in a week and a half and hope to launch the site in about two weeks, although the district’s chief judge wants to review court information first, before it goes out.

“The better each department can make the website, the more the website is going to be used,” said Chad Repke, who is in charge of the building department as well as the county’s information technology system.

Repke said he will also provide online training to department personnel so they can update information on their pages as needed.

Here are some of the reports:

* Denise Hartz, who is responsible for housing, said her department received $150,000 grant that will allow low to moderate income home owners to make repairs.

* Building maintenance head David Bielusiak said work will continue on exterior brick walls on the south side of the courthouse. Painting projects, flower bed repairs, updated signage and construction of a security wall are also scheduled.

* Probate Court Register Pam Ashford said files are being archived and she is finishing up year-end documents. Although Probate Court Judge Laura Frawley has been out of the office, the court system is working smoothly as one unit, because judges have been coming in to handle cases and sign documents.

* Emergency Medical Services Director Kristin Hoffman said her department has been busy, and she is looking at options for acquiring a new ambulance.

* District Court Administrator Jennifer Huebel said revenues are up a bit and the department is using a new database system to locate people, who haven’t paid traffic tickets and other fines. Magistrates in the district now have electronic tablets and on weekends can issue search warrants electronically to officers at crime scenes.

The county also received results of a public satisfaction survey two weeks ago, which indicates residents are fairly satisfied with the justice system.

* Alcona County Sheriff Doug Atchison said his department is in the final stages of getting reinforced tablet computers for six patrol cars. Deputies should be able to start issuing electronic traffic tickets in March. The system automatically sends the information to the court.

A new car has gone into service and two new cars have been ordered, Atchison said. His department also received an $11,000 grant to order a new ORV vehicle and trailer, which will arrive this spring.

* Kelley Hiemstra of the Michigan State University Extension said the county’s lease of the U.S. Forest Service building in Harrisville is expected to be completed once insurance documents arrive. The county passed a millage last year, enabling the 4H coordinator to become a full-time employee. He has created three new clubs – the most popular is an archery group with 40 members.

* Cheryl Franks said approximately185 properties are facing foreclosure for back taxes. Twelve people applied for assistance with mortgages and taxes through the Step Foward program, and 40 veterans applied for special property tax exemptions.

* County Clerk Patricia Truman said she has sent out W-2s to county employees and is going to start working on a direct deposit payroll system for employees. She is also compiling information for the 2013 audit.

* 911 Central Dispatch Director Jeff Brackett said he is updating fire radios and paging, following recommendations of a consultant. He is seeking bids for work to be done on an antenna tower once weather allows. He also said he hopes dispatchers will be able to complete state mandated training online.

* Prosecutor Tom Weichel said Gary Rapp replaced Brian Harger Jan. 1 as assistant prosecutor. Harger will become Iosco County prosecutor, a job Rapp held for more than 30 years. Weichel added that alcohol and drugs continue to be the top influence on criminal actions in Alcona County.

* Library Director Carol Luck said February is “love your library month” and the staff has planned numerous activities. “We have prizes for everything,” she said. Luck also reported that the library hopes to digitalize the Alcona County Herald, but expects the cost to be around $12,000. The library has also created a separate room for teenage patrons called The Lounge.

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