September 17, 2014

Gate access for Arenac Township ice fishing on track

Board not interested in fire assessment

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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ARENAC TWP. — The installation of a gate at the end of Hale Road in Arenac Township to focus winter traffic is on track.

The Arenac Township board heard from Jim Hergott about the gate installation during its meeting June 7. He said three I-beam posts had been placed for the gate; furthermore, the gate itself would only cost $95.20.

“We had $500 budgeted for the gate,” Hergott said. “If we purchase this, I will put it in.”

Supervisor James Daly said he has a lock for the gate already, and Hergott said he would also need to get a chain for the gate to help lock it in the winter to keep trucks from driving out onto the Saginaw Bay. An additional opening, about six feet across, would provide foot and ORV and snowmobile access to the bay for ice fishing.

Since the Stone Drain now empties into the path of the road, Hergott said the township has to be mindful of ice and water when the gate gets opened. Additionally, he said if vehicle traffic through the foot entrance begins degrading the bottomland, officials would need to figure out a way to stop it.

The gate would remain open throughout the warmer months, and would be subjected to the same frost regulations the Arenac County Road Commission follows.

The gates are part of the Stone Drain clearing project, which largely wrapped up in April. The drain had not been cleaned out since 1966, and making the mouth of the drain friendlier for ice fishing was part of the plan.

Daly also said the funding proposal for the Omer-Arenac Fire Department’s equipment purchases by Chief Brian Leja was out, as he and other board members felt not only should such an issue be put up for a vote, but it should look at the entire department’s funding needs.

Leja said he had done more investigating into his idea after meeting with the township board, the Omer City Council, and the Omer-Arenac Fire Board, and learned that it is not possible to assess a flat fee for any emergency-based service.

A ballot proposal would be needed to add a millage or flat fee, he said, stressing his original proposal was just an idea he had that needed more investigating.

County Commissioner Jeff Trombley said that if the board wanted to get a proposal on the November ballot, they would have to move quickly. Leja said he did not anticipate it getting done this year.

Daly said the funding issue is a real concern, however, and is something that needs to be looked at during the next joint fire board meeting between the township and Omer, so the communities could determine an effective path forward.

Omer council members agreed the funding is something that needs to be looked into and then put up for a ballot proposal during their council meeting May 22.

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