The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Local MTA members get lowdown on pending gravel bill


November 2, 2019


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IRONWOOD— At their regular meeting on Tuesday evening, members of the Gogebic County chapter of the Michigan Townships Association received two sides of the story in relation to state Senate Bill 431, which, if passed, would favor state power in relation to where gravel pits may open.

“MTA is completely opposed to it,” said District 1 Rep. Mary Segalin, who relayed that the association is urging citizens to write letters supporting that viewpoint to state senators and representatives.

Segalin was speaking to MTA members in the Erwin Township Hall. MTA township supervisors take turns hosting the meetings in each of Gogebic’s townships, which also include Watersmeet, Marenisco, Wakefield, Bessemer, and (north) Ironwood.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit, would prevent any local government from refusing to grant a permit for a prospective gravel mine, with the only exceptions being if the site were not viable for mining or would create unacceptable consequences at the location.

“If this is an issue for you, send a letter,” said John Cox, local MTA chair and Wakefield Township supervisor. “It does make a difference, I think.”

Cox added, however, that everyone needs to consider both sides of the issue.

“You put a gravel crusher under someone’s window and run it 24 hours, you’re going to drive them crazy,” he conceded, “but when you do need gravel, it has to come from somewhere.”

On one hand, he claimed, “You can’t just have a law that says you can go hog wild with gravel pits.” On the other hand, he added, “You’ve got to have gravel pits.”

According to, Senate Bill 431 was reassigned to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Sept. 24.

The bill has strong support from the gravel industry and from urban regions that want access to economically priced gravel within reasonable hauling distances.

In other news, the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting was Greg Ryskey, director of the Gogebic County Forestry and Parks Commission.

Ryskey reported that the county’s wood harvesting increased during this year, in part due to pleasant summer weather. He said related prices also increased over 2018.

The commission is a member of the American Tree Farm System, which inspects the local forests and thereby lends them legitimacy.

In addition, the commission also is in charge of county parks at Lake Gogebic, Little Girl’s Point and McDonald Lake, as well as an extensive system of hunting trails and multi-use trails.

“It’s nice to have a locally controlled forest,” said Cox, who praised the status of the county forestry system.

MTA will need new chairperson soon

MTA members also learned that they will need to replace their current chair before long.

Cox reported to the group that he does not plan to continue in his current role as Wakefield Township supervisor beyond the fall of next year.

“Nov. 20, 2020 will be the last day we’ll be on board,” said Cox of himself and Wakefield treasurer Joan Dalman. He expects their successors to be elected early that month.

Cox recommended, therefore, that MTA members think about who among them could be their next chair.

Kelly Dunbar, who is a trustee on the Marenisco Township board, asked the audience whether anyone would like to take over as the new MTA chair, but nobody volunteered.

“Think about it if you’d like to do it,” said Cox. “It’s a fun group.”

Closing out Tuesday’s meeting were reports by Jim Lorenson, liaison to the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners, and Erwin Township Supervisor Larry Grimsby, who reported on the county’s emergency management system.

A “round robin” session also included upbeat reports from the six township supervisors.

The MTA will have its next regular meeting in December at the Marenisco Town Hall.


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