County action supports veteran transportation program

MARQUETTE — A transportation program to help Marquette County veterans get to medical appointments is underway.

The Marquette County Department of Veterans Affairs received a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to develop the program and the Marquette County Board of Commissioners approved a bid Tuesday for a vehicle to be used.

“It’s a really exciting program for the community,” Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch said.

The funding is primarily to support the purchase of a vehicle for the program, with remaining grant funds used to hire a part-time employee who will assist in scheduling rides.

“They’re trying to develop their own inter-county service for veterans to get to medical appointments,” Erbisch said.

The vehicle will be purchased by Marquette County through the grant, and once the vehicle is received, it will be used by the Disabled American Veterans group, which will administer the transportation services.

The county will establish an agreement requiring the DAV to insure and maintain the vehicle, which will revert back to the county if the grant funding is terminated or at the end of the vehicle’s life, board documents state.

The board voted unanimously to award a bid of roughly $34,050 to Riverside Ford of Escanaba for the purchase of a 2019 Ford Edge with navigation for the program.

This was one of three bids received, as a bid from Town & Country Ford of Quinnesec was $34,290, including fees and navigation, and another bid in the amount of $33,349 from Riverside Escanaba was received for a Ford Edge without navigation.

“This is an excellent program that the VA is starting,” Commissioner John DePetro said.

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources land exchange was also approved at the meeting.

The DNR requested to exchange 200 acres of privately-owned land in Wells Township for 200 acres of state-owned land in Norway Township in Dickinson County, as the Wells Township parcel adjoins state-owned land. It also provides “better access for recreation and land management and contains high-quality deer habitat,” information provided to the board states.

According to board documents, the Wells Township land yields around $2,100 in tax revenue annually, with around $456 going to the county general fund. The same amount will be paid for 2019, but beyond 2019, the state will provide an annual payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $852.

The parcel will become part of the Gwinn Management Unit and is zoned as Timber Production 40. The exchange is expected to be completed by May 31, board documents state.

The board also made a motion to delay a response to a U.S. Department of Interior notice of a non-gaming land acquisition application from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, citing a need for additional information about the proposed use and public purpose of the two parcels requested in Negaunee Township.

The two parcels are spread on about 22 acres in Negaunee Township along Snowfield Road. The KBIC plans to replace the existing mobile home on one parcel with “more suitable single-family housing” but has no plan for development on the other parcel, which is “currently vacant and undeveloped” and also “appears to be ‘land-locked’ with no road access,” board documents state.

The parcels currently yield about $2,000 in total tax revenue annually with around $230 going to the county’s general fund.

The board also approved awarding the bid for furniture at the Marquette County Public Defender’s Office to the low bidder, Custer Inc. of Grand Rapids in the amount of $14,481.

Katherine Carlson-Lynch and William Davie were appointed by the board to the Pathways Community Mental Health Board for three-year terms expiring March 31, 2022.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.