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BOC handles slate of wide-ranging topics

HURON COUNTY – Fresh water and wildlife were among the topics of a varied slate of business at the Huron County Board of Commissioner’s Nov. 12 meeting. The board met on Wednesday due to Tuesday, Nov. 11 being Veterans Day.

Commissioner Dave Peruski suggested the board send a letter to Rep. Candice Miller reaffirming the county’s position on Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act on connectivity of fresh water such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, canals and ditches, since Huron County “maintains a significant drain system.” He also suggested the county send a letter to newly elected Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters to make him aware of the county’s position.

Peruski also reported that Acoustics By Design (ABD) would be performing nighttime noise measurements in regard to wind turbine operation.

Huron County Building & Zoning Department Director Jeff Smith was present at the meeting and said ABD indicated they would be using the same sites as daytime measurements for consistency. ABD also indicated that they would try to measure all sites in one night.

In Consent Actions, the board authorized Acoustics By Design (ABD) to conduct a night study to assist updating noise ordinance pertaining to wind turbines for $9,650.

Commissioner Steve Vaughan reported that the expo center was expected to be in full operation in the near future. He also noted that no smoking signs had been posted at the county building.

Vaughan asked if the county building could be heated by a geothermal system. Smith said he was doubtful due to space considerations at the building’s location. Vaughan asked if a hybrid system could be looked into. Smith said that that might be worth at least looking into.

Commissioner John Nugent said that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommends a three-mile setback of wind turbines from shorelines because these are flyways for birds and bats, with some flights occurring at night. Nugent said he found it troublesome that federal agencies don’t always agree on this point and some others. He said the flyways are well-documented and that the county should pay serious attention to the issue.

Smith said that companies involved with wind energy conduct avian studies to reduce their risk of impacting birds as they would face fines from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. He noted that the developers of the Apple Blossom project have indicated they are looking into a radar scanning system to monitor bird activity and control turbines.

Commissioner John Bodis reported that the price of road salt has doubled and that there is low supply.

Commissioner Ron Wruble reported that finance committee meetings with department heads have concluded. He said numbers are being finalized and hopes to have them done before Thanksgiving. Wruble said, while the budgets “are looking pretty favorable,” capital improvement projects, some outstanding for a while, could have an impact.

Chairman Clark Elftman said that prioritizing will be the key.

The board approved the purchase of a 2015 Dodge Ram Crew Cab SSV 4×4 with Police Package for the Sheriff’s Office from McCormick Motors of Pigeon for $25,473; and hazmat equipment for Emergency Services from Safeware for $6,702.

The board also authorized the Chairman to sign the “Agreement between Huron County and Huron Behavioral Health” to provide substance abuse counseling for eligible offenders.

The board voted down the proposed FY2015 Huron Behavioral Health operating budget due to the way it records Senior Citizen monies. Discussion included the concern that the way that the State of Michigan looks at minimum maintenance of efforts funding might give a false indication of levels; and, the county has asked HBH to create a separate line item for monies from Huron County. A later successful motion acknowledged the county had received the budget.

The board approved bills: Health Department $53,865; Board Bills $73,187; Paid on Presentation $989,490.

During this meeting, the board approved hiring Dawn Schumacher as Huron County Chief Assistant Prosecutor as previously reported in the Huron County VIEW.