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PUBLIC SAFETY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
POLICE PROTECTION. A State Police post is located in the City of East Tawas. The post has 17 patrol officers and 11 patrol units. The County Sheriff s Office is located in Tawas City. There is one Sheriff, one Undersheriff, one Captain / Jail Administrator, one admin Sergeant, one road patrol Deputy, two part-time secondary road patrol Deputies, two part-time recreational Deputies, four corrections corporals and eight corrections officers, 3 part-time corrections officers, one animal control Deputy, five full-time civilian dispatchers and one part-time civilian dispatcher. East Tawas, Tawas City, and Oscoda Township provide municipal police departments featuring certified officers with the power to arrest and provide police protection. The Tawas Police Authority has four full time sworn officers. Three patrol full time– the fourth serves as the Chief, and also performs some patrol duty in addition to his administrative tasks. Oscoda Township has nine patrolling police officers, one detective, and two part time officers. Oscoda Township also provides police services under a contract with AuSable Township. The balance of Iosco County relies upon either the Iosco County Sheriffs Department or the Michigan State Police for police protection. The County Jail is the lock-up facility in the county, and is used by all local police departments. Located in the City of Tawas City, the jail capacity is currently 65.
FIRE PROTECTION and EMERGENCY DISPATCH SERVICES. The population and government units of Iosco County depend upon eight separate volunteer fire departments, interconnected by a Mutual Aid Agreement that includes membership from neighboring Ogemaw County as well. An enhanced 911 (E911) Authority was established and became operational In April of 1996. The Authority is made up of representatives from the State Police, Sheriffs Department, City of East Tawas, Tawas Police Authority, Oscoda Township Police Department, City of Tawas City, County Board of Commissioners, East Tawas Fire Department and Oscoda Township Fire Department. The 911 facility is located northeast of East Tawas on US-23 in Baldwin Centre, Baldwin Township in the former County Annex Building. Dispatching services utilize state-of-the-art computer systems to receive emergency calls and to direct fire, police and ambulance units to the emergency scene.
UTILITIES, SEWER and WATER. DTE Energy provides Iosco County with natural gas, Consumers Power Company provides electricity, and SBC provides most phone services. Century Telephone serves the Whittemore area, the Sand Lake area and the Hale area. I-Star Online and Voyager Network provide Internet access through local points of presence. Broadband Internet service is provided by Charter Communications and wireless broadband is provided by M33Access. Several population centers in the county have sewer and water systems. The Huron Shores Regional Utility Authority currently provides water service to East Tawas, Tawas City and part of Baldwin Township. In 1996, a new water transmission line, elevated storage tanks and booster pump stations linking the Tawas Bay water plant to Oscoda/AuSable was placed in service. The former Wurtsmith Air Force Base is also connected into the Oscoda/AuSable water system.
At present, water can be treated from Lake Huron at a rate of more than 2.6 million gallons per day. There are two water towers in the Tawas area, each with a capacity of 500,000 gallons. Additional storage is available for peak demand periods in a 32 foot ground storage tank in East Tawas. There are nine wells, three elevated tanks (with 1,250,000 gallons of total storage capacity) and distribution mains located within Oscoda/ AuSable. On the former Base there are two wells in operation, two elevated tanks (each with 300,000 gallon storage capacity) and distribution mains.
The Tawas Utility Authority operates a wastewater treatment and collection system serving East Tawas, Tawas City and a portion of Baldwin Township. The Industrial Park in Baldwin Township is also connected to the system. The facility is a secondary activated sludge treatment process with a 4.5 MGD capacity. Oscoda Township operates a wastewater treatment and collection system which serves the Oscoda/AuSable area. AuSable Township contracts with Oscoda Township for service. The facility is a secondary activated sludge treatment process with an 800,000 gallon per day capacity scheduled for updating in the near future. The remainder of the county is served by individual on-site water wells. The remainder of the county, except for the Hale community area in Plainfield Township, is served by individual onsite septic/drain field systems. In Hale, there is a municipal wastewater collection system with facultative lagoon treatment facilities.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT. According to figures obtained in the 1980s, Iosco County’s waste stream includes 48 tons per day of paper, 12.39 tpd of food waste, 9.9 tpd of plastics, and 7.12 tpd of ferrous material. There are two transfer stations used in Iosco County– one is 4 miles north of Oscoda. The other is located in the Hale area and serves Plainfield Township. Rubbish pickup service throughout the county is provided by private waste haulers. Some communities, such as Tawas City and East Tawas, contract with private haulers on behalf of their citizens. Grant Township has their own system of refuse pick up with disposal at the transfer station operated by a private firm. A composting program has been underway for three years in East Tawas, and will expand to include food wastes, etc., further decreasing the waste stream.
COUNTY TRANSPORTATION. There are three major highways in Iosco County, two state and one federal. US23 and M65 are north-south trunk lines, while M55 is the major east-west trunk line. Access to the area via I-75 is at Standish, only 35 miles from East Tawas and Tawas City. The remaining road networks are maintained by the county and local governments. There are approximately 234 miles of primary roads and 663 miles of local roads in the county.
General aviation and or freight air service is available at the airports outside of East Tawas and at the former Air Base in Oscoda. The Iosco County Airport (East Tawas) features a tower and rotating beacon and uses a unicom system on frequency 122.8 for communication. The runway is lighted, paved, 75 feet wide and 4,800 feet long. There is one staff member who attends the facility 7 days a week from 9-5, and other services are available after hours. The airport has a Class B state rating.
Since the closure of Wurtsmith Air Force Base, the Oscoda runway facilities have been reopened for private and commercial traffic and designated as the Oscoda Wurtsmith Airport. The airport has a Class C State rating. The runway is 11,800 feet long, 300 feet wide and is lighted. There is an ILS/DME (Instrument Landing System/ Distance Measuring Equipment) system in operation and VOR (Visual Omni Range) facilities are available. There is also an Automated Weather Observation System in operation.
There are several ports and marinas along the eastern coast of Iosco County. Rail freight service is provided throughout northern Michigan by Lake State Railway Company and its rail system, with its headquarters located in East Tawas. Transit services are provided by the Iosco Transit Corporation (ITC) via a fleet of shuttle buses, with its headquarters located in Baldwin Township.
CULTURAL FACILITIES. The Iosco-Arenac District Library is headquartered in East Tawas, and operates five branches in Iosco County. These branches are in Oscoda at the former Air Base library site, in East Tawas 204 Sawyer Street, in Tawas City at the Library Building, in Whittemore next to the City Hall, and in Hale at the former Plainfield Township Hall. We offer public access computers and free WiFi at all library locations.
There are a number of local theater groups active in Iosco County. Productions are featured in East Tawas, Oscoda Township, and Hale. The City of East Tawas has assisted in the acquisition and renovation of a building in the downtown business district for the purpose of a community theater, primarily used by the Tawas Bay Players. The Shoreline Players in Oscoda use a modern theater facility on the former Air Base.
Local music groups collaborate yearly to produce a community concert series. There is also a local “Singers” group that performs throughout the area. In addition to county musical or theatrical performances and the historical museum, several annual festivals, tournaments, and other events are important cultural activities and have a large local, state and interstate draw.
The Iosco County Historical Society was incorporated in 1975. The Iosco County Historical Museum, which is located near Tawas Bay on US23, opened in 1978. The area also has an Art Council based in Tawas City.
EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES. There are four school districts covering territory in Iosco County plus the Iosco County Intermediate School District. The school districts include the Hale Area Schools, Oscoda Area Schools, Tawas Area Schools and Whittemore-Prescott Area Schools. Overall, there are six elementary schools, three junior high schools and four high schools in the county. There are two parochial schools in Iosco County: Holy Family Catholic in East Tawas and Emanuel Lutheran in Tawas City. Adult education classes are offered throughout the county through the public school systems. Alpena Community College offers classes in Oscoda and Alpena. Kirtland Community College is in Roscommon, Mid Michigan Community College in Harrison, and Delta Community College in Saginaw. Four year colleges within commuting distance of Iosco County include Northwood Institute in Midland, Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Saginaw Valley and Central Michigan Colleges also offer local extension classes in Iosco County. Extension classes are also offered by Michigan State University and University of Michigan at Saginaw Valley.
The Iosco Intermediate School District offers specialized services such as alternative education and vocational-technical training. In addition, the public high schools operate vocational training programs.
HEALTH FACILITIES. County Health Department District 2 offices are located in Tawas City. Overall, the department serves Iosco, Alcona, Ogemaw and Oscoda Counties. The County Health Department offers an array of services including but not limited to home care services (physical therapy, home health aides, etc.), immunization, nutrition, education, and family planning. The Health Department’s Environmental Section processes permits, food establishment inspections, and inspections for individual on-site water wells and septic/drain field systems.
Tawas St. Joseph Hospital provides 69 beds and employs 28 doctors (including several specialists) on staff. The hospital’s service area includes all of Iosco County and portions of Alcona, Arenac, Ogemaw and Oscoda Counties. Tawas St. Joseph Hospital has been instrumental in developing clinics at Hale, Whittemore, the Tawases, Oscoda and AuGres; an area Hospice program; home health care programs; and the Northern Michigan Health Care Consortium. The hospital provides many health care needs in-house, including intensive care, cardiac control , x-ray, blood bank, abdominal surgery, etc.. Patients needing specialized services such as neuro-surgery, thoracic-surgery, radiation therapy or severe trauma care can be flown by helicopter directly to larger institutions in Saginaw, Flint, Midland or Detroit.
Several nursing home medical recovery facilities are available in the county. The Iosco Medical Facility provides 64 beds plus a 28 bed Alzheimers Unit. Tender Care provides 120 beds, Lakeview Manor Health Care provides 60 beds, and Tawas Village provides 47 beds. There are approximately 25 independent doctors, 10 dentists, 11 optometrists, and 7 chiropractors practicing within Iosco County.
Ambulance service is available throughout the county. The emergency medical services (EMS) has 11 full-time, and 16 part time employees serving three regions in the County. The County also has a poison control toll-free number.
There is a comprehensive community mental health services program available in Iosco County. The program is a tri-county cooperative effort for Iosco, Ogemaw and Oscoda counties known as AuSable Valley Community Mental Health Services.
The Iosco County interagency council is a formal group of county service agencies. The Council serves several functions in the County: 1) It is a vehicle for communication among human service agencies so they can share resources and prevent duplication of efforts, 2) it identifies county human needs and initiates action to meet those needs and involves localities whenever appropriate, and 3) it encourages all agencies to be represented on the Council and foster cooperation among these agencies.
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES. Iosco County is a prime recreation area in the state. The county is situated on the northern boundary of Saginaw Bay, on Lake Huron. Tawas Bay, home to East Tawas and Tawas City, is one of the largest harbors on the Great Lakes. In addition to the lure of the “big lake,” there are several beautiful inland lakes. Sixty such lakes exist within a 20-minute radius of Hale alone. The AuSable River runs through the northern portion of the county and several other water courses are available for public recreational use. Thousands of acres of state and federal lands are also available for the public to roam.
Approximately 70 percent of Iosco County is within the boundaries of state and federal forest lands. The AuSable State forest encompasses 22,200 acres, and Huron National forest constitutes 112,000 acres of Iosco County’s land.
Given the location and natural amenities of Iosco County, the area is capable of supporting several types of recreational activities such as cross-country skiing (rated by many as the Midwest’s best), snowmobiling, fishing, boating, hiking, horseback riding, camping, color tours, swimming golf, winter sports activities and so forth. There are over 94 miles of snowmobile trails in the Huron National Forest with multiple access sites in Oscoda Township, Hale, and Sand Lake. Several cross-country ski trails offer more than 50 miles of high-quality skiing opportunities– Eagle Run is 11 miles, High Banks is 14 miles, Corsair is 16.2 miles, Wrights Lake is 13.2 miles, and Silver Valley is 13.7 miles. Most of the state lands and federal lands in the County are open to hunting. Populations of salmon, perch, walleye, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, smelt, bass, northern pike, bluegills and steelhead offer a variety of fishing in the County.
Localities have developed several of their own recreational facilities. Tawas City, East Tawas and Oscoda Township offer public beaches. Tawas State Park has two miles of beach frontage. There are five boat launches along the AuSable River. Approximately 4,030 acres of surface water have been created by power dams on the AuSable River (Foote Dam, Cooke Dam, Loud Dam, and Five Channels Dam). There are 45 inland lakes in the county (covering 12,000 acres), six of which have public beaches (Sand, Loon, Londo, Van Etten, Long, and Cedar) and 15 of which have boat ramps (Van Etten, Jose, Loud Dam, Long, Londo, Cooke Dam Pond, Tawas, Floyd, Cedar, Round, Sand, Loon, Hale, Chain Lakes and Tawas River). A tremendous wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities exists in Iosco county for both residents and tourists.