PI board looking at safety and building improvements

ROGERS CITY — The Presque Isle County building isn’t getting any younger.

The safety and maintenance issues of the building were the topic of discussion during the Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners workshop meeting Friday. Other county employees attended to discuss issues they deal with.

“I think we should work hard try to get the public aware, the building here is gone,” Commissioner Michael Darga said. “In time it’s going to fall apart. We can’t keep putting $50,000, $50,000, $50,000. I think we’ve got to work harder to get a millage or buy bonds or whatever we’ve gotta do to get ourselves sufficient. Our heating is bad our electrical is bad. Every year you’re changing computers. Concerns of security are going to pop up here. That’s the biggest issue.”

Housing Administrator Michelle LaBar said it would be a good idea to form an advisory committee about the issue.

“It would get people outside to discuss the issues about what’s going on in here,” she said. “People don’t see because they’re not here every day and the general public doesn’t come in here every day. I tell people all the time the county took the same hit in 2007 and 2008. They don’t have a big reserve. The tax base has been cut. It can’t continue.”

Specific issues with the building include safety concerns of different offices, old insulation, electrical, plumbing and more. The board discussed if part of the building should be torn down, and a new one built.

Chairman Carl Altman suggested officials find donors who would want to contribute to a new building.

“There’s no way to even remodel to bring it up to speed,” Altman said.

Action has to take place, Deputy Friend of the Court Mary Zigulis said.

“We know who we let in. That’s one of our security issues. The problem is I don’t know if who I’m letting in has a gun in their pocket. I have no idea,” Zigulis said. “We’re not packing heat in our office, just have metal detector or something. I think it’s imperative.”

Altman said he understands what she said but, he added, they can’t make every security measure foolproof.

Commissioner Lee Gapczynski said they should make effort to make one entrance into the courthouse.

“We should have cameras in this hallway, I can’t believe we don’t have them,” Gapczynski said.

Darga said these security and building issues have been a problem for many years.

“In defense of the board and security committee. We’ve gotta find a way to get in this building and secure this place,” Darga said. “For 18 of the the 20 years I’ve been here, I’ve been fighting to get the public to know what we do. Now it’s urgent the red flags are flying. There’s only so much the board can do. We’re limited and finances is limited too. Band-aiding this place isn’t working.”

Commissioner Stephen Lang said he sees safety concerns as a number one priority.

Register of Deeds Kathy Karsten said communication with the public is key.

“These are problems we deal with every day,” she said. “These are the realities we deal with.”

She said the board needs to think of the future and have a plan in place. She said interest rates are low and now is the time to act.

“We’re going have to sit down and glean through this and figure out how to accomplish this,” Altman said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.