First look at new Alcona garage ideas

LINCOLN – Less than two weeks after the Alcona County Road Commission paid a “let’s get started fee” to Russo Engineering, crews were studying a layout drawing of the proposed maintenance garage.

On Wednesday, a fresh drawing was tacked on the wall at the commission offices, as the board and staff continued to explore options for stretching $1.245 million in insurance fees as far as possible. At their board meeting, they explored the idea of holding a one-time millage election so they could raise more money to bring the site up to code.

The deadline for the special election is believed to be May 1.

“We’re scrambling,” Commissioner Al Scully said.

If the county were to seek the millage, the paperwork would have to be completed by the deadline in order to appear on the August primary or the November election, members said.

The new building also must meet additional codes, including setback requirements, as well as fire, drainage, well and septic system requirements. The old garage was built in the 1930s.

One mill would generate $700,000 for the new building, Campbell said.

The county then can borrow against the millage increase, Scully said. But in order for the millage to pass, the road commission would have to win the support of Alcona County residents.

Some residents have been expressing their understanding of the hardships the commission has faced, because the loss of the maintenance facility, new trucks and equipment was followed by one of the worst winters on record.

Another option has opened up because Lincoln resident Phil Potter is interested in selling his home on Millen Street to the road commission for around $115,000, Campbell said. The property sits in the center of the road commission property and would allow the county to save money by making it easier for them to meet codes.

Campbell said one day while he was trying to figure out how to get the new garage to fit on the site, he decided to approach Potter about selling, only to discover the long-time resident was interested.

Campbell said the Potter family wants to downsize, and recently upgraded the well and septic systems on the property, which the road commission could use. The home, which was described as immaculate, could be used as a larger meeting space, and the lots would provide a drainage and fire buffer around the new garage, saving additional costs.

The residence would be a harder sell in a down real estate market because it is surrounded by industry.

A marketing assessment is under way, Campbell said.

In other business, Campbell is continuing to look for more used equipment in good condition. Several road employees went to Wexford County to look at a $15,000 1989 D-4 CAT dozer, which looks brand new and has no hours on it, he said.

However, Campbell said another county has dibs on the equipment, and there is some confusion as to whether it actually is available for sale.

Commissioners Scully and Harry Harvey also gave Campbell the go ahead to work up bids for two more tandem trucks to replace aging equipment because the process and delivery time usually takes nine months.

Another project is construction of a new storage barn. Campbell told the commissioners he is looking for a 60-foot by 80-foot, clear-plan steel shed 14 feet high, with three doors. The building would be used for storage, but some trucks could be parked inside.

Scully corrected information about a dump truck fire last week at a sand pit near Hubbard Lake. An initial report stated the fire extinguisher on the truck was not working. However, it had been fully inspected and maintained, but was not strong enough to suppress the fire once the truck was engulfed. So the truck operator used a loader to put the fire out with snow.

The county’s insurer – the Michigan County Road Commission Self-Insurance Pool – is investigating the possibility that an electrical cable may have caused the fire, but the report is still pending, Campbell said. Meanwhile the county will total out the truck, which had an appreciated value of $121,000.

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