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County briefed on timber theft

ESCANABA — Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson gave the Delta County Board of Trustees an update on the alleged theft of timber belonging to the county.

“There was a large timber job by Weyerhaeuser — now they’re Lyme Timber Company — up by the conservation district property,” Mattson said.

After the work was done, Mattson noticed a large pile of wood had been left over. After approaching Lyme to see if they would be going back for the pile, they agreed to donate the woodpile to the county’s parks.

On Labor Day, Mattson and Parks Manager Steve Wery decided to do some work on a road leading to conservation district property in Cornell Township. This road is located on an easement the conservation district has on the Lyme property.

“When we got there, somebody had stolen quite a bit of it,” Mattson said of the woodpile.

The district called the state police to report the theft.

“There’s an investigation going on now, but we were able to track it to a certain piece of property,” Mattson said.

At the end of Tuesday’s county board meeting, the board entered executive session to hear a legal opinion on this matter. No decisions were made after the board returned to open session.

Mattson touched on several other DCD-related topics during the meeting, including revenues at the parks in 2020.

“We’re going to do okay,” Mattson said.

This spring, the county agreed to provide funding to the district for the upkeep of parks if they remained closed due to COVID-19. Mattson said the district will not need this support and will be able to continue making payments for a county loan on the new pavilion at Pioneer Trail Park; however, park revenues for the year are about $48,510 below where they were at this point in 2019.

“We’re going to probably end up being $60,000 net lower but be able to fund everything,” Mattson said.

That said, the district may not be able to pay for some — but not all — of the park improvements it had planned for the future.

“We won’t be able to do some of the new additions or the upgrades that we wanted to do, but otherwise I think it’s going to be fine,” Mattson said.

Mattson also spoke about rustic cabins and a sewer project at county parks during the meeting.

In other business, the board:

– approved requests to fill the district court deputy accounting clerk and co-legal assistant to the Friend of the Court director positions, as well as any potential upcoming Friend of the Court vacancies related to union employees changing positions.

– allowed retiring Surveyor Mel Davis to stay on for a few months to train his replacement.

– approved sending of a letter in support of the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress’ letter of opposition to the appointment of Victoria Enyart to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

– set the winter 2020 tax rate at 0.8350, as was supposed to be approved this summer.

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