Dickinson, Iron boards have differences on DICSA


News Editor

IRON MOUNTAIN – Dickinson County officials are willing to listen to concerns from Iron County about cost-sharing and governing rules for the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency.

Dickinson County Board Chairman Henry Wender suggested Monday that Iron and Dickinson representatives meet jointly to either resolve differences or decide to move on independently.

In addition to overseeing senior citizen centers in Iron Mountain, Kingsford, Felch, Sagola, Norway, Crystal Falls, Amasa and Iron River, DICSA operates programs that include commodity foods, home weatherization, in-home services, home-delivered meals, emergency outreach, transportation vans, volunteer services and the Family Ties Adult Center in Iron Mountain, which provides respite for caregivers.

Dickinson County Commissioner Joe Stevens said he hopes the two-county agency remains intact. The people served should be the upmost concern, he added.

“I think we’re better off doing it together than separate,” Stevens said.

Wender said Iron County officials have suggested there’s a tilt towards Dickinson County in that the agency’s home office is in Iron Mountain. About two-thirds of the county funding comes from Dickinson, reflective of the population difference, he said.

Wender said DICSA issues will likely be addressed when the Iron County Board of Commissioners meets today. He expects differences can be identified for a joint discussion soon.

Complicating the quarrel is the need to hire a new agency director. DICSA has been led on an interim basis by Sandie Essendrup, the Family Ties director, since mid-December. Jeff Heino, the former director, left for a position in Wisconsin, and Wender said the vacancy has yet to be advertised. After the proposed joint talks, a special meeting of the DICSA Governing Board will be needed to decide a course on hiring a new director, he said.

In other action Monday, the county board:

– Authorized an agreement for 2014 Michigan State University-Extension services, with the county payment for the year to be $38,850. The county’s total obligation is a little more than $71,000, which includes the provision of office space and clerical support. The Extension contributes the services of an educator based in Dickinson County and a half-time 4-H program coordinator.

– Renewed a contract with Correctional Healthcare Companies of Peoria, Ill., to provide inmate medical services in 2014. The cost for the year is $109,042, an increase of 3.07 percent, reflective of the Consumer Price Index increase for medical care services. Sheriff Scott Celello said the county will continue to review options for 2015, but noted that the county’s legal obligation to provide care is firm.

– Accepted Wender’s appointment of Stevens as the board’s finance chairman. The former finance chairman, John Degenaer Jr., is now serving as the board’s vice chairman.

– Received, for display in the courthouse, a framed flag and certificate presented by Chuck Lantz, director of the Dickinson County Office of Veterans Affairs. The flag was flown by the local National Guard unit over a forward operating base in the Zharay district of Afghanistan on Veterans Day 2013, in honor of Dickinson County veterans.

– Approved a travel and reimbursement policy for county staff in 2014, with mileage and per diem rates to remain the same as the past several years. The reimbursement rate for use of a personal vehicle is 39 cents per mile. The meal allowance schedule is $7.25 for breakfast, $7.25 for lunch and $16.50 for dinner. Travel beyond 200 miles from Iron Mountain must have prior county board approval.

– After meeting in a closed session, adopted a resolution that is aimed at amending a letter of understanding with county employee unions relative to prescription drug coverage. Because stand-alone coverage for prescription drugs is no longer available from Blue Cross Blue Shield for employees who opt out of a full insurance plan, the county has agreed to share those prescription premium savings with the affected employees. The new resolution attempts to address employees who might decide to opt out in the future.

– Approved a request from the Northern Lights YMCA to use Lake Antoine Park on June 29 for its annual triathlon.

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