The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

County board resolution opposes Ojibway closure


September 13, 2018


Bessemer — As the fight to keep the Ojibway prison in Marenisco from closing continues, the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday passed a resolution urging the facility remain open.

The prison is scheduled for closure Dec. 1 and many of the inmates have already been transferred to other facilities.

County board members continued to contend they had the rug pulled out from under them when the closure was announced before they had a chance to meet with officials downstate.

Joe Bonovetz, of Bessemer, said the Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress board passed a resolution urging the Department of Corrections meet with area officials. It also asks that an economic impact study be done, since more than 200 employees are affected.

Bonovetz said 14 Upper Peninsula counties agreed the prison should remain open.

County board members indicated they will consider supporting an effort by Marenisco Township to fight the closure in a legal action.

No dollar amount was mentioned as to the county’s contribution, but county board member Dan Siirila, of Ironwood, said, “We don’t want to give them an empty checkbook.”

Siirila said he was “appalled” that Crystal Suzik, who has been leading the effort to keep the prison open, implied that the county board wasn’t doing anything about the closure.

“We had a plan,” said county board chair George Peterson, of Watersmeet.

Siirila said the local delegation was scheduled to meet with state officials on Aug. 25 or 26, but then the DOC announced the prison closure before local officials could get downstate.

Using a football analogy, county board member Bob Orlich, of Wakefield, said the effort to save the prison “would take a 98-yard field goal.”

The resolution approved by the county board says the Ojibway facility is “one of the most efficiently operated” among the DOC and notes the payroll “has a very large economic impact on the county.”

The resolution will be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder, MDOC Director Heidi Washington and all U.P. counties.


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