2017-03-23 / Front Page

Boat project gets green light

But funds may need to be raised
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


IF GRANT funding is obtained — and matching money found — the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office wants to buy a patrol boat similar to this one, an aluminum-hulled, American-made, outboard powered 29-foot Safe Boat. It would be based in Leland for use in Lake Michigan waters. IF GRANT funding is obtained — and matching money found — the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office wants to buy a patrol boat similar to this one, an aluminum-hulled, American-made, outboard powered 29-foot Safe Boat. It would be based in Leland for use in Lake Michigan waters. Sheriff Mike Borkovich may need to set up an online “GoFundMe” account if he wants to acquire a $455,000 patrol boat for use in Lake Michigan waters off Leland.

But at least he was authorized to apply for a federal grant that would cover up to 75 percent of the boat’s price tag.

Raising the $113,750 the county would need to “match” the hoped-for grant of $341,250 is another matter.

At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening, the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners authorized the sheriff to apply for funding through a “Port Security” grant program offered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The board’s vote was 6-1 with District No. 2 Commissioner and County Board Chairman Will Bunek opposed.

Bunek said he considers the boat as unnecessary and too expensive even if the county receives the federal grant. Bunek said last week he’d heard via email from District No. 4 Commissioner Ty Wessell, who indicated he was also opposed to acquiring the new boat.

However, a deeply-tanned Wessell has returned from Florida and said Tuesday evening that he’d given the issue additional consideration, heard from constituents, and would support an effort by the sheriff to acquire grant funding to cover most of the cost of the boat.

“I don’t want to be the one saying the boat’s not important,” Wessell said, “but we need to figure out how to pay for it.”

Wessell noted that the county is currently paying for an unexpected $1 million-plus project to replace heating and air conditioning systems at the county Law Enforcement Center, may need to spend even more to fix the roof there, must pay for a $2.5 million project to upgrade the county’s emergency communications system — and the list goes on.

District No. 1 Commissioner Tony Ansorge said he would support the Sheriff’s request, but questioned how the county will cover its share of the cost.

“I would open it up to the sheriff to seek donations,” Ansorge said. “There’s certainly a lot of interest out there in the sheriff acquiring this boat, just as there was in the sheriff’s K-9 program.”

Indeed, the county authorized the Sheriff’s Office to accept donations to help support continuation of the sheriff’s police dog program. An online “GoFundMe” account has raised $1,535 for the K-9 program with some $11,000 coming from other private sources as well.

Sheriff Borkovich said Tuesday evening that he would be happy to seek and accept donations for the boat if the grant is awarded and the County Board authorizes him to purchase the boat.

Borkovich said he’d been in touch with the manufacturer, Safe Boat International, in Bremerton Washington, and could acquire the boat for less than the $500,000 he originally suggested it might cost. He said he would leave out an option for an air conditioning system in the cabin of the 29-foot vessel.

In addition, the sheriff said he had explored options to cheaply store the boat through the winter months, and would also look into how much money the county could get from selling one of the five boats currently in its inventory. None of the boats the county currently owns is capable of operating on Lake Michigan in rough weather, the sheriff said.

The sheriff said he would also consider acquiring a used boat instead of ordering a new one if it came down to that.

“We raised a lot of money real fast for our K-9 program and I like the idea of seeking donations to help pay for the boat,” the sheriff said.

Return to top

No need to duplicate Coast

No need to duplicate Coast Guard, operating costs per year would be high and deputy's time better spent paroling land.

Commissioner Debra Rushton,

Commissioner Debra Rushton, District 2, retired Level two firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician, has supported the Sheriff's request for a great lakes boat from the beginning and contrary to this article, voted yes on the motion. The Board is a seven member board and if one notices in the article the vote was 6 to 1 with Commissioner Bunek opposed As a retired emergency responder, I understand the need for the appropriate equipment for life safety and support the request.

We have a really good Coast

We have a really good Coast Guard with vessels and helicopters well-suited to the open waters of Lake Michigan. It seems that the Department might better use its funding to insure public safety by focusing on the inland lakes, rivers and bays of Leelanau County.