2017-01-12 / Front Page

City Patrol Car to Replace Old Model

By Erich T. Doerr

The St. Ignace City Council approved the purchase of a new police car at its Tuesday, January 3, meeting. The St. Ignace Police Department will soon add a Ford Police Interceptor Sedan to its fleet, its first all-wheel drive patrol car. The car is being purchased from Mackinac Sales in St. Ignace for $25,190. The purchase decision sparked considered discussion by council, and the car was approved after taking three votes.

The Police Interceptor Sedan is the law enforcement variation of the civilian Ford Taurus. The car’s arrival will allow the department to retire a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Police Chief Mark Wilk said the new car would likely by assigned to Sergeant Allen Mitchell.

Mr. Wilk said the department was hoping to purchase a second sport utility vehicle to serve as its new patrol vehicle because it offers more room for equipment and is easier to get in and out. Mr. Mitchell also serves as an evidence technician for the department and his duties require him to carry a lot of gear with him. The SUV would have only been $1,605 more, totaling $26,795, than the car, but the city would have had to purchase it from Okemos’ Signature Auto Group based on the bids that were received. Mackinac Sales had offered the city an SUV for $28,114, but the difference in price was 4.9% higher, more than the 3% higher the city is allowed as wiggle room to allow it to buy locally if at all possible.

Councilmember Jay Tremble was in favor of the car option, saying that these cars are good in the snow. Councilmember Paul Fullerton also favored the car, contending that police departments wanting to field an all-SUV fleet only want to do so for image reasons. Councilmember Steven Paquin sided with Mr. Wilk, noting the council members will not be the ones using the new vehicle for work and that he trusts Mr. Wilk’s judgment.

Michigan State Police First Lieutenant Natalie King, who attended the meeting, said that today’s police officers carry about 25 pounds of equipment on their waists, something that equals a lot of wear and tear on the body when constantly getting in and out of vehicles as their job requires, a task that is easier with a SUV. She said Michigan State Police is moving toward more SUVs, but Mr. Fullerton responded that the state has more money that the city does for vehicles.

The discussion led into three split-decision votes regarding the purchase. The initial vote to purchase the car was declined by a 4-3 vote, with only Mr. Fullerton, Mr. Tremble, and councilmember Jim Clapperton voting in favor of the car.

The council then decided to vote on the SUV, but noted that they would prefer to buy a vehicle locally. Mr. Tremble informed the council that Mackinac Sales’ Paul Krause had offered to match the Okemos dealer’s bid, but the city chose not to pursue that option because buying a vehicle after ignoring all previously received bids could be a “slippery slope” toward future trouble. The vote to purchase the SUV failed 4-3, with Mr. Fullerton, Mr. Tremble, Mr. Clapperton, and councilmember Luke Paquin voting against it. With that option ruled out, a second vote was then taken on purchasing the car, finding approval this time as the same four members voted in favor of doing so. The council approved financing the car through the First National Bank of St. Ignace at 2.61% for three years.

Steven Paquin cast a dissenting vote, noting that the council, in the past, has not told the Department of Public Works, the water department, the fire department, or the local ambulance service what vehicles to buy, and he didn’t feel right telling the police department to do so because of that.

Mr. Wilk told The St. Ignace News after the meeting he is happy either way with the decision, since his department will be getting a new vehicle.

Pond Hockey Event Status Approved

The St. Ignace Events Committee received three permits to hold special events this winter. The first was for the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship that will take place in St. Ignace Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19. The goal is to host the tournament on the ice of Moran Bay. If weather again requires the tournament to be moved on land, as it did last year, the city will have to pass another resolution of support for the event.

Before the council approved the resolution, Steven Paquin reminded the council there have been complaints about the tournament’s Detroit Red Wings alumni game at the city arena, regarding unconfirmed rumors of underage drinking in the stands, with someone purchasing beer, then passing it out to others. Mr. Wilk said he has been asked by the Special Events Committee to provide more police security during the Pond Hockey tournaments this year.

The second approval was for the U.P. Youth Pond Hockey Tournament that will follow the adult tournament one week later, from Friday, February 24, through Sunday, February 26, and use the same rinks. The resolution passed with only one amendment to note the event’s use of Kiwanis Beach to house tents and locker areas.

The third approval authorizes the committee to stage its U.P. Ice Golf Scramble Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, allowing the event to be staged on the bay near the Mackinac Grille Restaurant.

City Administrative Wages and Other Business

The administrative wages discussed at the council’s prior meeting Monday, December 19 [The St. Ignace News, December 22] were formally approved Tuesday. All of the raises come out to about 50¢ per hour. The raises that were approved were 1.49% for City Manager Les Therrian, 1.99% for Mr. Wilk, 1.83% for city Clerk and Treasurer Reneé Vonderwerth, 2.54% for Recreation Director Scott Marshall, 1.5% for Fire Chief Gary Sorenson, 1.5% for Assistant Fire Chief Steven Paquin, and 50¢ per hour to Executive Secretary and Deputy Treasurer Helen Thibault. Steven Paquin abstained from voting on the issue.

The council approved a $2,500 settlement to the Krause Trust. The payment settles a matter of pending litigation between the city and the Krause family related to property damage and other impacts caused by a city sewer project on their North State Street property. The settlement was approved after the council discussed the issue in a 12- minute closed session.

A public hearing for the city budget will now take place at the council’s Monday, January 16, meeting at 7 p.m. at City Hall, with approval of the budget to follow.

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