TAWAS CITY – In a time where the Iosco County Board of Commissioners and county staff are working to pinch every penny possible due to budget issues, two grants from two different departments are going to help weather the storm.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve two grants for the county, one from the Iosco County Veterans Affairs Office and a second from the Iosco County Trial Court. The two motions occurred during the county’s regular meeting held via video conferencing on Sept. 16. 

The first grant was for the Veterans Affairs Office, and included the Fiscal Year 2021 County Veteran Service Fund grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the amount of $54,375.

Chairman Robert Huebel, before the motion to accept the grant funding, told commissioners that he did not see any issue with accepting the grant funding and asked Veterans Service Officer Ronald Whitney, who runs the county’s office, if he had anything to say about the grant.

Whitney said that during the year the agency has been trying to reach out more to the county’s veteran population and that they would like to use the funding to purchase a new vehicle for that purpose. He said that is something they could use the vehicle for.

Vice Chairman Jay O’Farrell said that as a member of the county’s veterans committee, that the committee gave full support of the grant and for the vehicle purchase.

He made the motion to accept the grant and was seconded by Commissioner Terry Dutcher. The motion passed unanimously. O’Farrell said he was glad Whitney went out for the grant funding.

“The budget is stretched and we are exploring everywhere we can save money,” he said.

The next grant approved by commissioners concerned the Iosco County Trial Court and was granted to that county agency by the Michigan State Police, through the United States Department of Justice for Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding.

Iosco County Trial Court Administrator Carla Grezeszak told Dutcher that the grant would be used to purchase things for the court system that would be used during the COVID-19 pandemic and to keep the court system running.

She said some of the items that would be purchased with the grant funding include portable recording equipment, several new laptop computers to be used by staff who may need to work outside of the office, portable computers that will be used in the courtroom for Zoom meetings, a supply of hand sanitizer and new microphones for individuals who have to attend virtual court.

Grezeszak said that in addition to the new items, the county would also be reimbursed from the grant funding for Plexiglas that the county purchased and installed into the court rooms at the beginning of the pandemic in March.

She said there will also be reimbursement dollars available for the county in the event that the court system has to rent out the community center to hold court sessions.

“This grant is unique because they are letting us go back to March of 2020,” she said. “We will get the money back for the plastic barriers, and we will be able to get a little bit of money back that we already spent, which is pretty unusual for a grant, and it will hopefully get us through the rest of the pandemic and through whatever world that is coming next.”

O’Farrell cast a motion to accept the grant, and was again seconded by Dutcher. It was approved in a 5-0 vote.

“I would just like to say that this is a testimony that everyone is trying to do the best they can in this financial situation that we are in,” said Commissioner John Moehring. “Thank you Carla and everyone else who was part of this effort to get whatever funding we can to help us out, every little bit helps us out.”