The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Marenisco ceases legal action on OCF


February 18, 2020

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

INTERACTING AT a Monday evening meeting of the Marenisco Board of Trustees are, from left, Clerk Donna Kenney, Trustee Dave Hagen, Supervisor Richard Bouvette, and Treasurer Diane Dean.


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Marenisco - After losing an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Marenisco Township Board of Trustees voted Monday evening to cease any further legal action in relation to the closing of the Ojibway Correctional Facility.

The Michigan Department of Corrections closed OCF on Dec. 1, 2018, and Marenisco Township sued MDOC in November of that year for not considering carefully enough the economic impact such action would have on the region.

The Michigan Court of Claims sided with MDOC, after which Marenisco Township then appealed the matter, waiting until this month for the final judgment.

"The Court of Appeals probably thought that even though we had some standing, it was too late," said Township Supervisor Richard Bouvette, who also chairs the board. "The good guys didn't win."

According to Bouvette, the township's downstate legal representation was "dedicated" and "proficient."

He noted that the township could appeal the issue again to the Michigan Supreme Court, or sue MDOC for civil damage, but he said either route would be "very expensive."

The recent appeal cost the township about $3,000, and Bouvette claimed it cannot afford further action. Moreover, he added, there is also no guarantee that the state's Supreme Court would accept the case.

Regarding any further litigation, he concluded, "Personally, I would recommend against doing that."

The supervisor then requested a motion "to discontinue any other lawsuits and lick our wounds."

Donna Kenney made the motion, which was seconded by Treasurer Diane Dean. The vote was unanimous with Trustee Kelly Dunbar absent.

The board also:

-Voted to table action on a new ordinance designed to prohibit recreational marijuana enterprises in the township. Bouvette advised tabling the issue until March in hopes that all board members would be present at that time. Trustee Kelly Dunbar was absent from Monday's meeting.

-Heard a presentation from Heidi DeRosso, emergency management coordinator of Gogebic County, regarding a proposed increase for 911 fees.

-Voted to purchase a fiberglass pole at a cost of about $100 to see whether the product might be viable for use in displaying flags on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

-Voted to submit a corrective action plan regarding a mistake in the budget of the Marenisco Mini Mart, which is now run by the township. Bouvette said the store's budget already has a positive balance, despite the mishap.

-Voted to change the March meeting date from the third Monday of the month to March 30 at 6 p.m. A public hearing for the 2020-21 fiscal year budget will precede the meeting at 5:45 p.m. Both sessions will be held in the Marenisco Town Hall.


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