October 22, 2014
Part 2 in the drain series

Township officials express concerns over tires in drains

Grant approved for tire pickup

By Tim Barnum
News Editor | news@ogemawherald.com
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ARENAC COUNTY — Mosquitoes, roads and reputation are all at stake if drain issues regarding tires persist, according to three supervisors for affected townships.

Turner Township Supervisor Herb Keeley said gravel and dirt roads, of which there are many in Arenac County, can erode over time due to tires being dumped in ditches because they can block a ditch. Around 70 tires were discovered in Turner Township’s Chief Drain in late March.

“When a ditch gets plugged up on the road, the road bed gets wet,” he said. “The road bed is gradually compromised.”

The cost to repair a gravel road can be a financial burden, Keeley added.

“It’s terribly costly,” he said. “One mile of a road, if you ditch both sides and gravel it, it’s going to cost $50,000 to $75,000.”

Keeley said he feels drain commissioner Larry Davis has done a good job in keeping ditches cleaned out in Arenac County, but the problem with tires being thrown in ditches will not end without the help of county residents.

“If you are driving along the road, and you see somebody doing this, don’t confront them,” he said. “Get their license plate and contact law enforcement.”

Tom Pawlaczyk, AuGres Township Supervisor, said his main concern with tires being dumped in drains is the breeding ground it creates for mosquitoes. Around 60 tires were found in the Duck Lake Drain in AuGres Township March 15.

AuGres Township has offered tire pickups for its residents, Pawlaczyk said. It hosted one last fall, and Pawlaczyk said would like to have one again this fall.

“We’re waiting for people to call in,” he said. “And it we get enough people to call in, we’ll have one in the fall.”

Pawlaczyk said past tire pickups were free.

“It cost us about $1,200 for a semi,” he said. “We don’t charge the residents.”

Whitney Township Supervisor Fran Semenick agreed that mosquitoes were a concern, but added that perception could also be a problem if people continue tossing tires in ditches and drains. Around 60 tires were discovered in the Whitney Drain over the winter.

“If we’re getting a reputation for a dumping ground, that’s not good,” Semenick said. “That’s a major concern.”

Semenick added that there are many roads in Whitney Township and Arenac County as a whole that are not heavily traveled on, which could compound the issue.

“We’ve got a lot of roads out here that people don’t travel at night,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to catch these guys.”

Whitney Township has no tire pickup during the year, but Semenick said he would be willing to use mosquito control funds to partner with other townships and hold an annual pickup day.

“My township board is willing to kick in $200 or $300,” he said.

Semenick said the way to have success with a tire pickup is to get people used to participating in it.

“If we could work maybe a half year ahead to set up an annual one, or bi-annual one, people would get programmed with it,” he said. “You have to do a consistent thing.”

Some relief with the issue is coming from the Arenac County Conservation District. Administrator Dawn Hergott said she got word from the Department of Environmental Quality April 9 that a tire pickup grant was approved for the county.

The grant was for $3,000, Hergott said.

“We’ll probably do it out on the property on Pine River Road like we did last year,” she said.

There is currently no date set for the pickup. Hergott said last year’s tire pickup collected 385 tires. There is a household limit of seven tires during the pickup, Hergott said.

Sheriff Jim Mosciski, whose department took over investigating the tire issue in late March, said there are currently no suspects with the Turner Township incident, or those that have occurred in Whitney and AuGres townships.

“We got a couple of e-mails we’re looking at, but no suspects at this time,” he said.

According to Mosciski, the tire clean ups, and any future ones that are required, could be performed by inmates free of charge. He said inmates used for various jobs around the county are the responsibility of the agency that requests their services.

“We may go out and check on them, but usually the person that picks them up is in charge of them,” he said.

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