2014-01-09 / Front Page

Sheriff will get humvees

Vehicles free to county as part of Department of Defense program

MANISTIQUE – The Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department has obtained permission to secure two Humvee vehicles from the U.S. Department of Defense. The decision was made during recent meetings of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners.

One of the vehicles will be used to haul emergency response trailers and equipment for the department, while the other will be used as a spare and for parts.

According to Undersheriff Darrell Dixson, who made the presentation about the vehicles during the Dec. 19 board meeting, said the Humvees would come at no cost to the county through a DOD program. Currently, the county has four trailers they procured through the emergency management program, some of which the department cannot move with any vehicle they own.

Dixson noted that Delta, Alger, and Mackinac counties used the same program to obtain Humvees of their own, and that the only cost to the county would be to pick the vehicles up and general maintenance. The vehicles are worth approximately $60,000 a piece and have a General Motors drive train, which most area mechanics can service.

“It would be a catastrophe to have someone missing, or as we have had in the past, a drowning, and we would not be able to get the equipment that we have on the scene, where it’s needed, because we have no way to get it there,” Dixson said.

Commissioner Craig Reiter asked where the vehicles would be stored, since the sheriff’s department currently has four trailers, a Ford Expedition, two boats, three patrol cars, a truck, snowmobiles and ORVs.

“We’ve got more than enough room for two vehicles,” Dixson responded. “How often do we need to have something in place for an emergency to occur and we not have what we need to solve the situation?”

Sheriff W. John Norrington explained that the larger trailers have not been moved since the department acquired them, since they have been unable to, and that the Ford Expedition has already broken one time from hauling things it’s not capable of hauling.

“I know you’re (commissioners) in the process of getting a new maintenance vehicle, but if that maintenance vehicle is five miles east of town … and we have an emergency now … we have no vehicle,” Norrington said.

Norrington also addressed a past commissioner suggestion to use vehicles from the county road commission to haul trailers.

“At two o’clock in the morning, who are we going to call to get the keys to get the vehicles?” he said. “We don’t have those vehicles available right at the spur of the moment when we have to get somewhere.”

Commissioner Reiter again commented on his apprehension about acquiring the vehicles.

“There are a lot of things that are free, but free don’t mean good,” Reiter said. “There’s things that come along with free.”

Dixson responded that it didn’t make sense to have the trailers and equipment that can’t be moved when needed.

“These are vehicles that can haul a large trailer of that size out there,” he said. “Will they take up a lot of room? Yes. We don’t have that building this county had previously that they got rid of – where they stored a lot of the equipment.”

During the Dec. 26 meeting, commissioners again discussed the vehicles, and Commissioner Sue Cameron made the motion to obtain two Humvees.

Commissioner Dan LaFoille seconded the motion.

Commissioner Craig Reiter again voiced his opposition to procuring the vehicles, noting the department should start putting away money to buy a new vehicle, rather than old ones.

“We seem to be populating the sheriff’s department with multiple used vehicles,” Reiter said. “It’s a concern to me.”

The motion passed with Reiter casting the sole “no” vote. Commissioner Jerry Zellar was absent from both meetings.

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