Counties extend emergency management pact

ESCANABA — A recently-approved agreement between Delta and Schoolcraft counties will allow Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Geyer to continue providing his services to both.

Geyer said the previous agreement between the counties was set to expire on Jan. 31. Under the agreement, Geyer spent one day each week at the Schoolcraft County Courthouse.

“The board wanted to look at how much time I was spending on Schoolcraft-related functions,” he said.

Ultimately, it was determined additional financial contributions from Schoolcraft County would make the contract more fair. In order to give Schoolcraft County’s board time to review the contract, the Delta County board voted in favor of extending the previous contract by 30 days.

Schoolcraft County approved an updated agreement with Delta County shortly thereafter.

“The general conditions of the agreement are the same, with the exception that … the cost for Schoolcraft went up by $4,000,” Geyer said.

It was approved by the Delta County Board of Commissioners at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Geyer’s salary will not be increasing as a result of the change. The additional funds will be used by Delta County to help offset costs associated with Geyer’s employment.

Working in the counties of Delta and Schoolcraft comes with certain advantages for the counties, Geyer said.

“It allows both counties to share the services, and obviously there’s better coordination between Schoolcraft and Delta in that sense,” he said.

However, it also has its drawbacks.

“I can’t be in two places in the same time,” Geyer said.

While having one emergency management coordinator provide services to two counties is not common in the region, it is not unprecedented, either. Geyer said Houghton and Keweenaw counties are the only others in the U.P. to share an emergency management coordinator.

“Otherwise, it’s a single coordinator for each county,” he said.

Geyer began working in his current role last year.

“In August, I took over for Bob Berbohm, who was retiring out of the position,” he said.

While he has had some issues in the emergency management coordinator position, Geyer said things have been going well for the most part.

“Obviously, it’s been a little more difficult in having to learn two counties,” he said.

He added he had run into less of a learning curve in Delta County due to his history there. Geyer began working as a public safety officer for the City of Gladstone in 1993, was promoted to sergeant in 2000 and served as the city’s director of public safety from 2006 to 2017.

Recently, Geyer has been focusing on getting his paperwork in order.

“I’ve mainly been working on the different paperwork requirements that are part of the emergency management coordinator (position),” he said.

Aside from this, Geyer has been working on emergency action guidelines for both counties and attending various meetings. These have included meetings of the U.P. Regional Homeland Security Planning Board, emergency operations center meetings and local emergency planning commission meetings.

“Their function is to develop off-site response plans for facilities in the counties that have hazardous chemicals,” he said of emergency planning commissions.

Geyer has been participating in training sessions to gain skills that will be useful in his new role, as well.

“I’ve been working on some of those classes and whatnot,” he said.