CHEBOYGAN COUNTY — At their meeting on April 14, the Cheboygan County Commissioners voted for the county to formally withdraw from the interlocal agreement for emergency management services with Charlevoix and Emmet counties.


"The county entered into this agreement in the late nineties," said Cheboygan County Administrator Jeff Lawson. "The last time the agreement was updated was approximately January of 2011. The county has determined it is in the best interest of the county to withdraw from the agreement, with approval of the resolution. The withdraw would be effective 90 days after adoption."


Lawson said it was his recommendation to approve the resolution and authorize Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners Chair John Wallace to sign the document.


The resolution was cleaning up the intent the commissioners had voiced March 10, when Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Clarmont had presented a plan for the county to withdraw from that agreement.


The sheriff had provided each of the commissioners, in their informational packets for that meeting in March, an outline of his recommendation to dissolve the interlocal agreement for emergency management services among Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties, bringing the oversight of that service for the county back to the sheriff's department. He was concerned that the county was not as prepared as it needed to be for any kind of emergency.


Clarmont said his concerns right now with the agreement that the county entered into in 1997, which has been amended in 2004 and 2010, and the current concept of emergency management is not meeting the needs of Cheboygan County. He also feels the county is ill prepared, at this point, should something happen, especially on a statewide level, or national level.


He made the request to dissolve the agreement between the three counties and bring the Office of Emergency Management back to Cheboygan County, allowing him oversight of the program, and having someone he deputizes direct the program. The cost of having the office back in Cheboygan County was very similar to what the county was paying to be a part of the tri-county agreement, around $80,000. A sergeant with the sheriff's department makes around $83,000 and there are some federal grants available that could offset this cost, around $11,000, bringing the cost to the county down to around $71,000.


The decision was made at the March 10 meeting for the sheriff to move forward with the preliminary work that needed to be done to bring the office back to Cheboygan County. Sgt. Patrick Holt with the sheriff's department was hired on as the director of the Office of Emergency Management, after having been with the sheriff's department for many years. School Resource Officer Deputy Ron Fenlon is working in the deputy director position at this time as well.


Holt and Fenlon have been working to update the emergency preparedness of the county, as well as helping to deliver personal protective equipment to facilities in need during the coronavirus pandemic.


The resolution, as it was brought before the commissioners at their meeting April 14, was a formalization of Cheboygan County's plan to remove themselves from the agreement between the three counties.


The county commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution as it was presented to them, dissolving the agreement between the three counties.


With this resolution being passed, it will take effect 90 days after April 14. The assets owned by the Charlevoix Cheboygan Emmet Office of Emergency Management will be divided equally among the three counties, including the three trailers used for emergency responses.