By LINDA LOBECK
IRON MOUNTAIN - Along with approving an invoice for the purchase of trees, the Iron Mountain City Council heard the progress made this first year on the improvements to City Park.
The city received a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant of $500,000 for improvements to the park. This was the first year for work to start, and the city has up to three years in which to spend the money on the improvements.
At Monday's meeting, the council approved the purchase of 50 trees mostly for the deer enclosure at the park from Grandma's Garden in Iron Mountain. Since this is a business owned by council member Dale Alessandrini and his wife, he abstained from voting.
City Manager Jordan Stanchina noted that three quotes had been obtained by the city's engineer for the project - Kevin Trevillian of Coleman Engineering. The lowest price was $10,125 from Grandma's Garden. The other two quotes were received from Cheshire & Associates of Quinnesec and Northern Landscape and Irrigation Inc. of Norway.
The trees planted were 10 white pine, 10 red oak, 10 white spruce, 10 sugar maples and 10 crabapple.
Councilman Colin Jacobetti questioned whether there would be any protection from the deer so they wouldn't eat the trees before they had a chance to grow.
Stanchina said that fencing was donated by Home Depot and the trees are all protected.
The purpose of this improvement to the deer enclosure is to provide better protection for the deer in both summer and winter.
In the city manager's report, Stanchina noted that the two new athletic fields that have been added to the park for soccer and youth football have been hydro seeded and irrigated.
"They (fields) have been flipped so there was room for two fields instead of one. That project is mostly complete. With the trees now planted, work will be done to extend the deer fence to the west and carve out a trail around the enclosure. That will probably wrap up what we will do for the year until next spring."
Council member Ted Corombos suggested moving the boulders that are up by the new fields closer together or adding more there to make the area 'four-wheeler proof.'
"A tremendous amount of volunteer work has gone on so far to putting in the irrigation and seeding the fields. A four-wheeler truck got in there and spun around damaging the field. We are dealing with the security issues at the park. I want to ensure that anyone caught will be dealt with severely," Mayor Bruce Rosen said.
At Monday's meeting, the council also approved a wage adjustment for the part-time firefighters. Currently the part-time firefighters are all paid $10 per hour, which has remained the same since they were first brought into the depart in the winter of 2008. The change in the part-time wage structure was made after the current contract with the full-time firefighters was settled.
Stanchina said that when someone is hired as a volunteer firefighter they will be paid $9.50 an hour until they have 1,000 hours in. From 1,000 to 1,999 hours, the pay will be $10.30; $10.60 for 2,000 to 2,999 hours, and $10.90 for 3,000 hours and more. In addition there is a premium pay of 75 cents more per hour for normal duty day hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday thorough Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
In his memo to the council, Stanchina noted that these changes in pay would add $1,911 (2,548 hours) to the cost of using part-time personnel and the tiered wages system would add 5.62 percent or $4,480 to part-time wages.
"A reduction of costs will be realized when new part-time employees are hired, but that amount is unknown at this time. With the signing of the most recent contract, an adjustment to the part-time wages is appropriate as there will be a greater reliance on part-time personnel," Stanchina said.
Some savings has already been realized by the city with the use of part-time firefighters to replace paying for overtime for the full-time firefighters. With the current contract, the city will also see savings when a full-time firefighter retires and is not replaced.
"The last contract we signed helped to control labor costs with the fire department. Over long periods of time, it will bring big savings for the city. This is appropriate that we make this change for the part-time firefighters wages," said Rosen.