The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Army Corps approves Saxon Harbor funding



HurleySaxon Harbor has made the cut for this years U.S. Army Corps of Engineering funding, meaning the Army Corps will contribute to part of the marina’s repair following its destruction during the rain and flooding of the July 11, 2016 storm.

According to an announcement from Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office, the Army Corps’ 2017 work plan includes a total of $1.375 million for work at the harbor — comprised of $575,000 for dredging work and $800,000 for structural repairs.

“Those structural repairs are probably going to include the west side of the north basin, which may include part of County Road A,” Iron County Forestry and Parks Administrator Eric Peterson told the Iron County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting.

He said the news of the Army Corps awarding the funding meant the county will only have to pay the portions of the repair it’s responsible for — alleviating the concern the county would have to fund the Army Corps’ dredging work to simply get it done, as future federal appropriations were uncertain.

“That’s a huge shot in the arm for us and for our project,” Peterson said. “There’s nothing out there we would have to do in addition to the stuff that’s our responsibility.”

Peterson said the Army Corps is responsible for dredging the channel coming into the marina from Lake Superior and the channel through the center of the north basin.

“All they’re responsible for is (dredging) to allow … a boat to get off the lake in the event of a storm. It doesn’t mean anything for docking — they don’t need any of that, they just need to get off the lake,” Peterson said.

Almost 15,000 cubic yards of sediment needs to be removed from the Army Corps’ portion of the marina, according to Peterson, with the county estimating it needs to remove an additional 24,000 cubic yards from its portions of the harbor.

As the earmarked money is part of the 2017 fiscal year, Peterson said the contract for the Army Corps’ dredging project has to be awarded by Sept. 30. While the county still has to follow federal procument guidelines it’s hoping to save money by piggybacking on the project for its own dredging work.

“If the same contractor is able to due both dredging projects, it will save us money in the long run,” Peterson said.

Even though the contract has to be awarded by the end of September, Peterson said the work may not actually begin until spring so it can be completed in a single season.

The county is expected to receive $2,198,178 in Federal Emergency Management Agency and state assistance for the county’s part of the dredging and marina work — which accounts for 87.5 percent of the total project costs — according to the latest estimates.

On Tuesday, Peterson said the Army Corp’s funding was secured in part through the efforts of the county’s federal lawmakers.

“Last year, I saw firsthand how flooding devastated our Lake Superior coastline and I spoke with Wisconsinites who were concerned we would not have the resources needed to repair and rebuild after those severe storms,” Baldwin said. “Today, I’m happy to announce a critical investment in Saxon Harbor, so it can come back stronger than ever.”

A Baldwin staffer attending Tuesday’s meeting pledged to continue whatever assistance the senator was able to provide.

In other action:

— The board held a hearing regarding the Community Development Block Grant emergency assistance program used to aid residents and businesses impacted by the July storm. During the hearing, Northwest Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Sheldon Johnson provided an update on the program designed to help low-income residents and qualifying businesses repair damage caused by the storm. He said the commission — which is working with Iron County and the other seven counties listed in the disaster declaration issued after the storm — didn’t receive any qualifying business or municipal applications for assistance, partially due to the fact that repairs to roads and other work couldn’t have been done prior to the application. Johnson said there have been residential property owners who have received assistance repairing flood damage, but it wasn’t at the level expected.

Johnson said there were approximately 190 houses with storm damage identified in the eight-county region, which led to the expectation of around 80 applications for assistance.

While Johnson said there were a number of applicants with income above the requirements of the program, a total of 13 homes, including one in Iron County, have received assistance — with most of the projects completed or nearing completion.

Johnson said he expects the $2.1 million awarded in funding — of which only $300,000 to $350,000 has been committed — to be closed at the end of December. The December deadline means there is still time for qualifying residents to seek assistance from the grant program, Johnson said.

The commission can be contacted at 715-635-2197.

—The Board of Supervisors thanked Kathryn Brauer for her service as the Fair Board’s secretary.

— The board also entered into an agreement with the Northwest Regional Planning Commission to update the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.


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