Martin County Commissioners on Tuesday heard from county Emergency Management Director Abigail Nesbit regarding the LB Pork elevator explosion and fire event that occurred in Northrop the end of December 2017. The event affected the city of Northrop, as well as area fire departments. Northrop faces a cost of $248,000, broken down to a fire bill of $114,000, Beemer’s knock-down bill of $118,000 and a $16,000 diesel fuel bill.

Also present was Mark Marcy, regional coordinator for Homeland Security and Emergency Management; Northrop Mayor Tom Wakey; City Councjl members Tom Koeritz and Larry Baarts and Lynn Becker and Diane Bettin of LB Pork,Guy Beemer from Beemer Companies and Sheriff Jeff Markquart.

Abigail Nesbit explained the presentation to the board.“What I’ve gathered that’s different about this elevator fire is that we missed a few steps with the board. An emergency declaration was declared, HSEM came down and collected invoices and met with the board, but it never came back to the board for approval for disaster assistance.

“It went straight up to Rep. [Bob] Gunther’s office and Sen. [Julie] Rosen. So we’re just missing the piece where you (the board) come in and approve to move forward asking for disaster assistance.”

Mark Marcy also explained the issue, noting that even going through the required steps would not necessarily solve the issue, because of the involvement of a private facility.

“One of the issues is that because this happened at a private facility and there’s a responsible party, it’s likely not going to be eligible for state disaster reimbursement. Our staff has reviewed the expenses, and we’re not able to help in that process because it’s a private event.

Wakey said that while Northrop officials have considered seeking funds from LB Pork. The city attorney has said it cannot be done.

“We can only go through the insurance company,” Wakey said. “We’ve gone through the insurance company and received $5,000 for two different fire calls. Our city attorney also said we can sue, but LP Pork is a limited liability company, so even if we did win there would be no funds there.”

County Attorney Terry Viesselman was present and offered his advice, stating that even though taking the necessary steps still will not resolve the issue, it will help to get things moving and up to Rep. Gunther’s office to look at other legislation for covering the loss. The board ultimately approved the suggestion, saying it would rely on Viesselman to send out a letter with his recommendations to Northrop.

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