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County to consider Flannery Forestlands purchase


February 13, 2020

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Gogebic County officials stand with the daughters and associates of the late Melvin Flannery following a meeting of the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday. One topic at the meeting was the county beginning the process of aquiring 4,000 acres of the Flannery Forestlands in Gogebic County. First row from left, Carol Rychlock, Peggy Packard and Cheri Fraley, three daughters of the late Melvin Flannery; second row, Brian Wilson, general manager Flannery Contracting, Commission Chair Dan Siirila, Greg Ryskey, county forestry and parks director, and Commissioner Bob Orlich.


The Gogebic County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, authorized the start of a process that may add 4,000 acres of forestry land to adjoining county land.

The commission 7-0 approved the request from Greg Ryskey, director of county Forestry and Parks, to start the process of appraisals and grant-writing to see if it's feasible for the county to purchase the land from the Melvin Flannery Estate. The bulk of the property is already within county forestlands.

"It will be a lot of work," Ryskey said. "But it will be worth it."

Brian Wilson, general manager of Flannery Trucking and Contracting, said Melvin Flannery, who passed away at age 91 on April 14, 2018, had expressed a desire to see the land go to the county.

"He would come up with me on Wednesday if we were building roads or logging," Wilson said. "He liked to come up here and always said that the county should have this someday."

Wilson said he first contacted the county a year ago to see how to start the process. That is when he and the forestry board started investigating possible grant funding and a financial plan where the county wouldn't have to come up with matching funds by financing a portion of the project through logging revenue.

The Flannery appraisal of the land was $22,000 but Wilson said the fair market value of the timber is $3.8 million.

The county would need to have two more appraisals to determine the fair market value the State Trust Fund would follow, Ryskey said. The county's support would start the process of applying for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for acquisition of the land with 25% matching funds.

Discussions with the trust fund staff show the project would score high as a development acquisition, he said.

Before the acquisition could take place there would need to be a public hearing and resolution from the county commission to go ahead with the purchase, he said.

Commission Chair Dan Siirila, who also serves on the forestry and parks board, said his initial concern was how much would be lost in property taxes with the transition to county owned land.

"The majority of the land is all in forest crop," he said. "So that is just about $8,000 a year total and not much of a loss for the county."

Three of Flannery's daughters - Carol Rychlock and Peggy Packard, and Cheri Fraley - who now runs the business based in Crandon, Wisconsin, were present at the meeting. Fraley said the land was purchased in 1996 from American Can. There was an Anderson Street residence where workers stayed while working in Ironwood.

"It hasn't been logged in about a decade," Fraley said. "The main business now is construction."

The commission approved an Ambulance Committee recommendation to extend the service agreement between the county and Aspirus Wausau Hospital for a two-year period. The agreement has an 11% increase for the first year totaling to $63,825 and no increase for the second year.

The commission also approved an Ambulance Committee recommendation for the board to revise the policy statement that does not allow the county to provide financial assistance to non-ambulance, and non-emergency first responders or organizations with the right to consider special circumstances.

In other business, the commission approved:

-Receiving the 2019 annual report from the Gogebic County Sheriff's Office.

-Striking $2,587 in delinquent personal property taxes from the tax rolls and turn them over to the 32nd Circuit Court.

-Transferring $13,300 in SJI Grant funds from the county general fund to the 32nd Circuit Court.

-Appointing David Pawlak as an at-large Transit Board member.

-A joint resolution with the five county members of the Western Upper Peninsula Manpower Consortium.

-Not renewing the membership with the National Association of Counties.


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