County board takes Sawyer actions

MARQUETTE – From bids on a maintenance tractor to adjusting a hangar rental rate and replacing firefighting and rescue gear, the Marquette County Board approved a handful of measures Tuesday affecting Sawyer International Airport.

The board voted unanimously to award a bid to Michigan Sales of Marquette for a utility tractor to be used for airfield maintenance. Michigan Sales bid $44,109, which was lower than a $45,493 bid submitted to the county by Beaver Machine Inc. of Coleman, Wis.

Acting on a recommendation by the county’s Airport Advisory Committee, the county board unanimously approved a T-hangar lease at a reduced rate for the Marquette County Flying Club, a non-profit organization which provides free “Young Eagle” flights for youth between the ages of 8 and 17.

The club approached the committee last month about moving to a T-hangar from its current location in Hangar 423. The move reduces the monthly hangar rental from $140 to $90, with the $50 difference to be put toward scholarship opportunities for community youth.

“At the end of the day, the money still comes back to the airport, it just isn’t to our general fund,” said Sawyer airport manager Duane DuRay.

Moving to the T-hangar would allow the club to have 24-hour access to aircraft, provide a meeting place for club members to gather, train and talk and would better protect aircraft from damage in the more private storage facility.

Boreal Aviation would lose the rental income from the move, but the company supports the idea viewing the club as a feeder program for local aviation and its members as its constituents of tomorrow, DuRay said.

“There didn’t seem to be a downside to this at all,” DuRay said.

The issue will be reviewed in one year to assess its success.

The board also unanimously approved awarding a bid to Pomasi Fire Equipment of Antigo, Wis. to replace turnout coats and pants, helmets and gloves. The bid totaled $23,265. Pomasi was the only company submitting a bid on time.

A request for proposals also sought bids to replace boots. However, Sawyer officials said the boot Pomasi bid did not meet National Fire Protection Association standards. The boot proposal will be advertised again.

During a Federal Aviation Administration inspection of Sawyer this year, the existing Air Rescue and Fire Fighting turnout gear was found to be outdated and no longer met current NFPA standards. The FAA required Sawyer to replace the gear.

At the suggestion of Commissioner Paul Arsenault, Sawyer operations manager Steve Schenden said he would check to see if the worn equipment might still serve some function for area firefighters. Otherwise, the equipment being replaced will be disposed of.

In another Sawyer matter, U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, sent a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to the county, which the board formally received Tuesday.

“Today I wish to recognize Sawyer International Airport for their continued service to the citizens of northern Michigan,” Benishek said in the certificate. “The transformation of the Telkite Technology Park from an abandoned Air Force base into what it is today, shows the determination and drive of our northern Michigan entrepreneurs and civic-minded individuals. Thank you for your continued service and dedication.”

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is