By RALPH ANSAMI
Ironwood — Gogebic Community College President Jim Lorenson said Friday he has noticed a change in Michigan politics on the western Upper Peninsula level.
In the past, he said Michigan politicians often didn't work together.
The fact that has changed was evident Friday evening when State Sen. Tom Casperson, a Republican from Escanaba, and State Rep. Scott Dianda, a Democrat from Calumet, held a joint town hall meeting at the GCC Lindquist Center.
About 15 people attended and asked questions of the two legislators for nearly two hours.
“In the last two months I've noticed the change,” Lorenson said. “These two men work together extremely well. We're much better served now than we have been for some time,” Lorenson said in introducing the two.
“We respect each other,” Casperson said. “We still disagree on issues, but where we do agree, we work hard together,” he said.
He noted his 38th state Senate district is the largest in the state and bigger than nine U.S. states.
“The Upper Peninsula comes first. Our political affiliations come second,” Dianda said.
The two legislators visited the proposed Copperwood mine site near Wakefield earlier in the day.
Both men have supported legislation that ultimately allowed the first modern day wolf hunt in the U.P. for this fall, despite downstate opposition.
Casperson offered an update on the wolf control effort, saying the federal government is offering funding through a grant for non-lethal control of wolves and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has applied for the money.
Casperson said he backs both the hunt and non-lethal methods for controlling the wolf population that has spread into neighborhoods in the Ironwood Township area, among other U.P. wolf conflicts with humans.
Regarding the Copperwood visit, Casperson said Orvana Minerals officials “are jumping through the hoops” to get the mine started. He said the Environmental Protection Agency has strict regulations that must be followed, but EPA officials were impressed when Orvana employees took them to the site to view two wetlands areas they have created. Many times, new businesses seek to fill in wetlands, Casperson noted.