Township sign effort makes progress

ESCANABA — For the past few months, the Delta County Township Association (DCTA) has been working to fund the installation of emergency number signs in Delta County townships. DCTA President Gregg Johnson said the association’s efforts have recently hit a major milestone.

“We have raised about one-third of our goal of $300,000,” he said. A grant-writing and fundraising campaign in support of the cause started in September.

Delta County Commissioner for District 3 Theresa Nelson said the campaign will have an impact on the majority of Delta County’s townships.

The townships of Ensign, Masonville, Bay de Noc, and Nahma already have number signs, which were paid for with funding from the U.S. Forest Service.

“The remaining 10 townships are in need of support … to assist first responders in locating correct housing addresses during a critical event,” Nelson said.

Funding for the project has been provided by a variety of supporters. Delta County’s townships have voted in favor of donating a total of $50,000 to the project, Escanaba Township has donated an additional $10,000, the county’s government has agreed to donate $45,000 in funding from a Hannahville 2 percent grant, and the Community Foundation for Delta County has donated $5,000. Additionally, multiple individuals and small businesses have given cash donations to the campaign. The DCTA hopes to hit its fundraising goal for the campaign in the spring of 2018.

Several local officials have voiced their support of this project, as well. Delta County Board of Commissioners Chair David Rivard said he and the board’s other members are concerned by the current state of emergency signage in most of the county’s townships.

“This is very dangerous, and improving this situation is a huge priority for the Delta County Board of Commissioners,” he said.

Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald said the lack of standardized number signs in many Delta County townships can make it hard for first responders to find houses in these areas — especially while it is dark outside.

“Finding a house number is difficult enough during the day; at night, this effort is complicated by the darkness and police having to use their spotlight to try and locate an address on the house,” he said.

Michigan State Police Lt. Gregory Cunningham, commander of the Gladstone Post, said these issues have been compounded by the fact that some houses in the county’s townships have no address or fire markers at all.

“The issue of unmarked structures has been ongoing for decades,” he said.

Operations Supervisor for Rampart EMS Robert Bower said while GPS systems can be helpful, they are not accurate enough for first responders to rely on them exclusively.

“I cannot stress the importance of house numbers being able to be seen and to be required on every parcel that has a structure on it (enough),” he said.

Escanaba Public Safety Captain/911 Coordinator for Delta County Jamie Segorski said the installation of new signage could have a major impact on the efficiency of first responders in the county.

“In an emergency, those precious minutes could make a huge difference in the outcome of the call,” he said.

Contributions to the campaign can be sent to the Delta County Township Association, Attn. Gregg Johnson at 4283 D Road, Bark River, MI 49807.