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County gives up IM senior center title

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County on Monday gave ownership of the senior center at Crystal Lake to the Senior Citizens Council of Dickinson County, nearly 10 months after starting the process.

The council, which had previously leased the center, will pay a token $1 for the building and property.

“Amen,” was the comment of County Board Chairman Henry Wender after a vote to complete the sale.

Dating to late 2018, the county has spent roughly $100,000 dealing with sewage backflows at the center, including funding a new lift station in 2019. With that problem addressed, Wender proposed last summer selling the building to the council to excuse the county from further maintenance.

The board concurred, but the transfer took some time. Several complications emerged, the most recent involving a title search, Controller Brian Bousley said.

Commissioner John Degenaer Jr. voted in favor but mentioned concerns he’s heard about the county’s willingness to surrender property. “It’s good, yet it’s not good,” he said.

The senior center gift follows a similar $1 sale of the former Crystal Lake Community Center to the Northern Lights YMCA, as well as allowing townships to take ownership of several county parks. In each case, the county has reasoned, the properties went to responsible parties better positioned to develop and maintain them.

“I feel very good about it,” Wender said.

The senior center in Iron Mountain was the only one owned by the county. Before the sewer trouble, it was used by the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency for its Meals on Wheels program.

DICSA has since used a number of facilities to prepare home-delivered meals and hopes to soon finish construction of a kitchen at its 1238 Carpenter Ave. building in Iron Mountain. The new kitchen has benefited from a private donation with no taxpayer funds needed, Commissioner Barbara Kramer said.

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