Hot dog dispute

MARQUETTE – The Marquette County Health Department and American Legion Post 44 in Marquette have resolved their differences in a dispute over the grilling of hot dogs and other food at Gerard Haley Memorial Field.

Two weeks ago, Michael Trickey, a past president of the legion post, asked the Marquette County Board to intercede with the health department to try to clear red tape in the legion’s quest to grill hot dogs, bratwursts and hamburgers at its Blues and Reds baseball games in Marquette.

Health department inspectors said the legion post needed to purchase a two-week or annual license to grill food at the ball park. The legion – which already purchases a $350 annual license for its post facility and uses the sale of food as a fundraiser to help offset the roughly $12,000 annual cost of its baseball teams – hoped to avoid the additional cost of more licenses.

Marquette County Health Department Director Fred Benzie said license exemptions were available for non-profit fundraising entities, under certain conditions, but the legion post had not previously agreed to any of those provisions.

On Tuesday, Trickey thanked the county board and reported a resolution had been reached.

“A viable and reasonable solution has been made regarding the concession stand at the American Legion baseball facility during ball games,” Trickey said. “So, a solution was reached with the (health department) director and with the leaders of baseball and so thank you, again. The issue being brought to light helped a very reasonable solution to be reached.”

Benzie said he met with two members of the board of directors of Marquette American Legion Baseball.

He said the post agreed to a home preparation exemption available to non-profit fundraising entities.

“They were happy with the fact I was able to find a common sense solution to meet their needs and still comply with the law,” Benzie said. “I suggested they prepare those foods off-site. I told them I was happy to meet their needs and to go play baseball and eat hot dogs.”

In a letter to Benzie, Marquette American Legion Baseball President Jack Reynolds and board member Herman Eleby requested a “home prepared food” exemption, stating the legion post would no longer grill foods on site at the concession stand and will comply with the standards set by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“We the members of the Marquette American Legion Baseball program intend to begin grilling foods off-site and at a member’s home across the street from the ball diamond,” the letter read. “Grilled foods will be transferred to a hot holding unit at the concession stand where we will only plate foods and the remaining process will be that of self-service.”

The legion had been grilling hot dogs and hamburgers – pre-made and professionally wrapped by butchers – on a gas grill at the concession stand.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.