ALPENA -It appears that the Alpena County Sheriff's Department may receive the retired Coast Guard Boat it had made a request for via the United States Surplus Program.
The boat, which serviced the Sault Ste. Marie area, was promised to Alpena a month ago, but after a surplus fee of $13,900 that was attached to the boat from the state of Michigan, it looked like the county would not be able to afford it. During Tuesday Alpena County Board of Commissioner's meeting Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski told the commissioners that things have changed again and now the county may be able to get the much needed boat.
Kieliszewski said after Alpena failed to pay the fee, a federal department put a claim in on the boat, but failed to pick it up. He said that allowed the county to take another shot at acquiring it. He said now he has a written document from the state awarding the boat to Alpena, but the money for it still must be paid. Kieliszewski said since word leaked that the county could lose out on the boat, the community has rallied together and donations have been flowing in.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Diane Filarski receives a resolution of tribute from the Alpena County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. Mark Gurisko, 911 director, left, presented Filarski her tribute while Chairman Cam Habermehl congratulates her.
"We were told it was ours and making arrangements to pick it up, and then we heard it was no longer ours. Now it is ours," Kieliszewski said. "I reached out to the community and thus far we have raised $8,500 toward the boat. Some businesses have stepped up and the news stories really ticked off a lot of people and they have come forward and made contributions. The support has been tremendous."
Kieliszewski said as recreational activity increases on Lake Huron, so does the need for a patrol boat. He said the county has been without one for too long.
"The need is huge for us. We haven't had a boat on the big lake for a number of years, so there has been no enforcement from the sheriff's department whatsoever," Kieliszewski said. "The Coast Guard, for all they do, have no enforcement authority whatsoever, so it is up to us to police things like drunk boaters. We haven't been able to do that."
Besides patrolling for law violations, Kieliszewski said having a boat to respond to emergencies is important.
"We haven't been able to help someone who may have a boat break down, or help divers if they need help," he said. "We haven't been able to do anything, so getting this boat is huge for us. The first big step is acquiring the boat and the next one will be getting divers and we're in the process of doing that."
In other business:
after a public hearing the commissioners voted to allow the library to amend its millage request. The new wording will allow for the library to use the money for any purpose provided by law. The millage request is for 0.25 mill.
the commissioners received annual reports from Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health and Michigan State University Extension.
the commissioners presented a resolution of tribute to 911 dispatcher Diane Filarski, who retired after working at central dispatch since 1994.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com