County board to be briefed on Senate hearing

MARQUETTE – The Marquette County Board on Tuesday is scheduled to be updated on a recent state Transportation Committee hearing in Lansing about winter freeze-up problems.

The board meets at 6 p.m. in Room 231 of the Henry Skewis Annex to the Marquette County Courthouse in Marquette.

An Upper Peninsula delegation testified last week before a state Senate Transportation Committee hearing on the damage and costs associated with this winter’s persistent cold temperatures.

For several weeks the local region has been battling a range of issues, including increased costs related to freeze-ups caused by prolonged sub-zero temperatures.

As of March 24, costs exceeded $1.5 million for Marquette County and $5.1 million for the entire U.P., with nearly 15,000 people affected across the region.

Marquette County was recently denied a disaster or emergency declaration from the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. County officials have been urging state officials to reconsider that decision, with costs expected to continue to rise as the ground thaws.

Officials from several U.P. counties were in Lansing Tuesday and representatives from Delta, Marquette, Alger and Schoolcraft counties attended the hearing, supporting the need for immediate assistance to help contend with the crisis.

The transportation committee hearing was run by chairman Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. Among those testifying from the local area included Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch, Marquette County Emergency Management Coordinator Teresa Schwalbach, Marquette City Commissioner Fred Stonehouse, Marquette County Board Chairman Gerald Corkin and Ishpeming Public Works Director Jon Kangas.

Jerry Doucette, of AuTrain Township in Alger County, presented a resolution from the Michigan Association of Counties Board of Directors requesting Gov. Rick Snyder issue a state of emergency declaration for the U.P. and the northern Lower Peninsula.

Another item on the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting is a presentation from Pathways officials on fiscal year 2014 program planning guidelines.

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