DEPARTMENT DEBUT

Members of the recently formed Tawas City Police Department took part in their first community outreach event as a group, this past Friday, Jan. 8. They joined the Michigan State Police and other local police/fire department personnel at Tawas City Walmart, for an event benefitting Iosco Coats for Kids. (See separate page for more photos). Pictured here during the fundraiser – along with their first, new patrol vehicle – are, from left, Tawas City Police Department Officers Jacob Linkhart and Jeremy Daniszewski, and Chief Matthew Klosowski-Lorenz.

TAWAS CITY – Those from the Tawas City Police Department anticipate that they will be able to start taking calls for service on Monday, Jan. 18.

Chief Matthew Klosowski-Lorenz gave an update on the progress of the recently formed department, during the Jan. 4 Tawas City Council meeting.

Officials also discussed several other items, including the new council members which have been brought on, a grant opportunity for another police department vehicle and the appointments to various city boards and commissions.

Among Klosowski-Lorenz’s remarks, he shared that at the time of the meeting, Tawas City’s temporary police station was about 90 percent complete.

The department will be housed within the Anchor Park building – formerly operated as the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce – on US-23, across from Burger King.

According to the chief, the new flooring at the venue was finished on New Year’s Eve; desks are in place; the IT side of things and the computers are completely set up; decals are ready to be placed on the building; the officers’ patches and uniforms are in; and their report writing program has been installed.

Klosowski-Lorenz added that the department was to receive its first patrol car that Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Further, the chief and Officers Jeremy Daniszewski and Jacob Linkhart took part in their first public event as a new agency, this past Friday.

Although they weren’t operational for calls at that point, they joined the Michigan State Police at Tawas City Walmart, to help with a Stuff a Blue Goose event to benefit Iosco Coats for Kids. (See separate page for photos).

“We’re anticipating starting calls for service on the 18th,” Klosowski-Lorenz advised.

He noted that the department is tying up just a few more loose ends with the state of Michigan, before officially beginning services.

“We’re not in dispatch’s computer yet, the state computer, to recognize our operating number,” he explained. “It is active; they’ve confirmed it. It’s just with the holidays and with COVID, it’s taken a little longer to have that number where they can physically use that number with dispatch.”

In related business at the council meeting, City Manager Annge Horning shared that they have applied for a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Rural Development, to purchase what will be the third patrol car for the Tawas City Police Department.

She said that the grant will cover 55 percent of the vehicle purchase and any accessories which will be on or in the car. The total cost is estimated to be $55,757, and the city’s share will be $25,157.

Horning said that one of the requirements of the grant is for the city to hold a public hearing to receive any comments regarding this.

The council moved to open the hearing, during which the only remarks shared were from Klosowski-Lorenz.

He explained that the purchase price also includes the in-car video camera system, the in-car computer system and the radar unit. 

“That’s why that cost may seem higher than what we’ve paid in the past for patrol cars,” he said, noting that the equipment listed above accounts for roughly $12,000 of the amount.

The council closed the public hearing and Horning later requested their approval to move forward and execute the grant documents, once available.

“We have to have the public hearing for the USDA grant, but there’s no requirement of the USDA to have council support of us applying for that grant,” she said. So, just for formality, she thought it would be nice to show that the council does support applying for a grant for the third patrol car.

Councilman Jon Studley moved to authorize Horning to execute the USDA documents. Seconded by Council Member Mike Russo, the motion passed 7-0.

As reported, the council granted approval on Dec. 7, 2020 to proceed with the hiring of a chief and the creation of a police department. In the two weeks following that, they obtained authorization from the state to establish a law enforcement agency, OK’d the purchase of two patrol vehicles and hired staff for the Tawas City Police Department.

Klosowski-Lorenz, who worked most recently as an Iosco County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was hired as the chief. Daniszewski and Linkhart, previously employed by the Tawas Police Authority (TPA), were hired as officers for the Tawas City department. Daniszewski’s last day with the TPA was Dec. 28, 2020, while Linkhart’s resignation was effective Jan. 6.

Although the TPA is in the process of dissolving, it is still currently in operation and is staffed with a sergeant/acting chief and an office manager.

Tawas City’s current police department budget allows for a chief and two officers. But the officer position is still posted on the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards website, as well as the city website, with Horning noting that they would like to continue to hire more officers in the future.

“As the TPA winds down and we have more funds available, we would like to eventually hire additional officers to provide 24/7 coverage for our community,” she has stated.

In a joint contract, Tawas City and East Tawas share the services of the TPA. On behalf of the former, the city attorney drafted a letter to East Tawas in November, informing officials of Tawas City’s intent to withdraw from the TPA. The two municipalities have since begun the process of creating their own police forces.

In separate business at their latest meeting, several Tawas City officials welcomed the newest council members to their first meeting – Ed Nagy and David Lesinski.

As reported, in the November 2020 general election, voters selected Nagy for a four-year council term, expiring Dec. 31, 2024.

Horning previously pointed out that on the first of the new year, there would be a vacancy on the council for a two-year term, ending Dec. 31, 2022.

It was during a recent meeting when officials appointed Lesinski – who served as the city’s Mayor Pro Tem in the past – to fill this role.

“Thank you for giving me the chance to serve again, and I hope to help out as much as I can,” he expressed at the Jan. 4 meeting.

In other matters, Mayor Ken Cook proposed the appointments of several council representatives to various boards, committees and authorities, all of which passed in a unanimous vote.

The first dealt with the position of Mayor Pro Tem, which is currently held by Brian McMurray.

According to Horning, the city’s charter requires the council to elect one of its members to this office at the first meeting following each city election.

With the approval of Cook’s motion, McMurray will again serve as Mayor Pro Tem, for 2021.

As for the other appointments, the council was provided a list of the board, commission and authority positions which the council and city manager hold, that may be reappointed each year.

“In accordance with the City’s Charter and Code of Ordinances, the appointments are made by the Mayor with approval by the City Council,” Horning explained.

Cook’s motion was to approve the following. (All are reappointments, except for the invoice review committee, which was comprised in 2020 of now former council members Jill VanDriessche and Kane Kelly):

Jackie Masich, planning commission; Mike Russo, Zoning Board of Appeals; McMurray, E-911 Advisory Board, with Horning as the alternate; Cook, Huron Shore Regional Utility Authority, with Horning as the alternate; Studley, TPA Board, with Cook as the alternate; Russo, Tawas Utilities Authority, with McMurray as the alternate; and Masich and McMurray, invoice review committee.

In similar topics, “We lost one of our board of review members over the weekend. And then our alternate has chosen not to come back,” Horning told the council. Therefore, if they know of anybody who might be interested in serving, there are two openings on this board.

“There is required training before the March board of review, so we have to get somebody on board fairly quickly to be able to get them fully trained and be able to serve in March,” Horning noted.

For more information, visit https://tawascity.org or contact staff at city hall, at 362-8688.

In other matters, the council acted on the following:

• Approved collecting the 2021 summer taxes on behalf Tawas Area Schools, during the city’s property tax collection. The charge to the district for this service will remain the same as it has for the last several years, at $2.60 per parcel.

• Approved pay request No. 2 from Great Lakes Dock & Materials, in the amount of $234,228.75, for their work on the Tawas City Shoreline Park pier rehabilitation project. “With Council approval, we’ll forward it to our Grant Administrator for reimbursement from the State,” Horning advised.

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