Alcona County lists facilities needs, ponders tax request

HARRISVILLE — A number of buildings owned or maintained by the Alcona County Board of Commissioners are in need of repairs, including the county building, Sheriff’s Office building and jail, the U.S. Forest Service building, which houses the Michigan State University Extension office, and the Harbortown property.

Unexpected plumbing repairs at the county jail prompted commissioners to come up with a plan to address a number of looming infrastructure issues. Commissioners may ask taxpayers for money to fund the repairs, even though tax proposals failed twice in the county last year.

While emergency plumbing repairs were being addressed at the jail, commissioners learned that all of the cast-iron pipes at the jail will need replacing as they have reached the end of their useful life.

Commissioners asked Building and Grounds Director Dave Hanson to come up with a list of repairs that are needed at county-owned or maintained facilities. Hanson presented his list to the board on Wednesday, but did not include any cost estimates because he is still researching costs associated with each project.

Because there are a lot of projects to deal with, Hanson suggested the board’s Building and Grounds Committee meet to break the list down into structural issues, safety issues, and cosmetic issues.

“A lot of these are structural issues,” he said. “The one that we’re dealing with right now is the courtroom windows that started leaking.”

All four windows in the courtroom need to be replaced, but Hanson said he would like to replace the two windows on the south side of the building because they are in the worst shape.

Hanson said he was able to get an estimate from Northeast Window and Door in Alpena. Each window was quoted to cost a little over $680. However, he believes the repairs will cost closer to $800 per window, because the structure behind the window is rotted from where the window was leaking.

In addition to repairs in the courtroom windows, the county building needs a new roof, the top half of the chimney needs to be removed and capped, sections of the sidewalks need to be repaired or replaced, the restrooms are in need of upgrades, and the retaining walls are in need of repairs.

At the county jail, all of the sewer lines, locks on the cell gates, and plumbing valves need to be replaced, and all of the windows at the jail need to be stripped, reglazed, and painted. The storm frames also need to be rebuilt.

The roof, windows and furnaces need to be replaced at the U.S. Forest Service Building. Hanson said that, in 2015, county officials were told it would cost $17,000 to replace the roof.

The Harbortown property owned by the county needs to have its furnaces cleaned and inspected before winter. The entire building needs repainting. Additionally, all of the sidewalks and parking lots at county-owned buildings are in need of replacement or repair.

County board Chairman Craig Johnston said he hopes to have a figure next month as to how much the repairs will cost. Johnston said the county needs to find a way to fund the projects without using money from the general fund.

“Some of these things, like what happened at the jail, they can’t Band-Aid them, they have to be done properly, and it costs a big amount of money, and the general fund cannot absorb that,” he said.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.