Iron County donates to UPSET


Staff Writer

CRYSTAL FALLS – After watching a presentation about the dangers of drug use in Iron County, the Iron County Board of Commissioners has elected to make a $5,000 donation to the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET).

Detective/Lt. Tim Sholander of UPSET made the presentation during the board’s Thursday meeting.

According to Sholander, the two major drug trends in Iron County right now are heroin and methamphetamine, or “meth.” Other common drugs are cocaine, prescription drugs, marijuana, bath salts, and synthetic marijuana.

Sholander said that although UPSET covers the 12 westernmost counties of the Upper Peninsula, about 86 percent of all its heroin complaints come from Menominee County. The other 14 percent come from Iron and Dickinson counties, he added.

“It’s moving,” he said.

Sholander also touched on the recent incident in Iron River in which a child was exposed to meth chemicals while playing at a park. He said that some acid had spilled on the two-year-old’s arm and caused it to blister. While responding to the incident, UPSET officials discovered four pop bottles that contained meth chemicals.

As a result, Iron County was the site of four of the 19 meth labs that UPSET has cleaned up so far this year.

Making drug busts and cleaning up meth labs is not cheap, Sholander pointed out. UPSET relies heavily on donations, especially to fund equipment such as hazardous material suits.

Commissioner Ray Coates made a motion to donate $5,000 to UPSET’s cause.

The motion passed four to one, with Commissioner Patti Peretto casting the dissenting vote. Peretto explained that she supports UPSET, but she would be more comfortable issuing the donation at budget time.

In other business, the board:

– Accepted the 2012 audit report for the county.

Certified public accountant (CPA) Kevin Pascoe informed the board that the net worth of the county increased by $996,000 from 2011 to approximately $2.6 million in 2012. In addition, he noted that the county has a healthy general fund balance that could cover up to five months of expenditures.

“You had a profitable year,” Pascoe said. “Better than last year.”

Although there were some concerns regarding commingled cash, manual checks, and not using standard forms for recording, Pascoe said that the county should easily be able to make improvements due to its new BS & A software and new staff in the treasurer’s office.

On a related note, the board also passed the annual deficit reduction plan resolution.

Iron County Administrator Sue Clisch said that only two departments had a deficit in 2012: the drug court, by $4,401, and the law library, by $2,326.

– Approved to consolidate the county clerk and county register of deeds offices when the terms of the current officers expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

– Learned that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is planning to purchase 22 and a half acres of private property along the Brule River in Mastodon Township. If the sale goes through, the land will be open for public use.

– Agreed to look into creating a designated area for smokers outside of the courthouse.

– Decided to issue a credit card with a limit of $3,000 to John Lortie of the courthouse maintenance staff, and to increase the limit of the credit card issued to the Camp Batawagama director from $3,000 to $6,000.

– Heard from Iron County Treasurer Melanie Camps that a state of Michigan tax-foreclosed real property auction will be held in Grayling, Mich. on Aug. 13. There are 53 properties from Iron County listed. For more information, go to

– Met Celie Borndahl, the new forester for the Iron County Conservation District.

– Passed a resolution in support of Dickinson County’s resolution to advocate for a southern Upper Peninsula route for a proposed statewide bike path.

– Heard public comment from Dave Sankey of K & D Service of Iron River about his desire for a wrecker rotation list for Iron County’s Central Dispatch. He claimed that dispatchers only call one company when a car needs to be towed. A rotation list would be fair to all wrecker companies within Iron County, he added.

Board Chair Carl Lind said that the county administrator would research the issue and report back to the board at its next meeting.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is