Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Wakefield Township meeting features changing of guard


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Wakefield TOWNSHIP- A light agenda at a Wednesday evening meeting of the Wakefield Township Board of Trustees allowed newly-elected members to show appreciation to two members who are retiring and a third member who is changing posts.

It was the last meeting that retiring Supervisor John Cox will chair.

"It's been a real joy to work with all of you on the board," said incoming Supervisor Mandy Lake, who is leaving her role of clerk to take over Cox's job.

Lake added that she's also "excited to have a new crew coming up" and said it will be interesting to see what they can accomplish as a newly-formed board.

"I'm excited, but I'm sad," she said, while concluding with a laugh to Cox and retiring Trustee Jim Spencer, "I know where you live."

Newly-elected Jennifer Ahonen will take over Lake's job as the clerk.

Retiring Treasurer Joan Dalman said she enjoyed her time on the board after having spent earlier years of her life in Ohio, Illinois, the Detroit region and Watersmeet. "I'm a transplant," she said. "This job made me feel like a part of the community."

Newly-elected Treasurer Denice Laessig will assume Dalman's role.

Retiring Trustee Jim Spencer joked that he's "a man of few words" and then proved it by adding only, "Thank you, people."

Newly-elected Trustee Robert Drier will take over Spencer's role.

Cox, who also just retired from his role as chair of the Gogebic County Chapter of the Michigan Townships Association, has steered the township through the creation of its first master plan, which was enacted this year.

He said he is leaving the new board with a fund balance of $420,720 and added that the recent increase in tax revenue should make it easier for members to accomplish any new objectives.

Cox also noted that he has verified the much faster speeds now possible from the township's new internet tower, which was just completed next to the hall.

In reference to remote learning now in place due to COVID-19, Cox said of the tower, "Not only are we helping the community, we're helping the kids."

Cox also has worked to enable new business, job growth, and road maintenance. He concluded that the township's December newsletter will include parting words from retiring members, along with contact information for new members.

Lake said the township had a 57% voter turnout for the Nov. 3 election and noted that was "fantastic for us." She said township voters gave President Donald Trump 131 votes and challenger Joe Biden 56 votes.

Voters also re-elected Trustee Gerald Niemi, who was not present at the meeting.

In other news, the board appointed Tom Wagner and Dave Wanink to the township's Board of Review. Cox said Wagner, who moved here from Minneapolis, is a mechanical engineer who works out of his home. The supervisor said Wagner lives in the Indianhead area, thus giving him knowledge of the "complicated" collection of housing there.

Lake said Wanink grew up in this region and worked for Coleman Engineering. "He knows his stuff," she said. "He knows the township well - every aspect of it."

Cox said the Board of Review - which meets quarterly - now can prepare for its December meeting with "a good team."

The board also:

-Voted to hire Silver Creek Excavating and Trucking, LLC, of Bessemer, to conduct 2020-21 snow removal services at the township hall. Cox recommended the company on the grounds of it being fully insured and offering the lowest of three bids.

-Voted to approve budget amendments totaling $43,202 to cover expenses relating to the new internet tower and legal fees.

After the meeting, Laessig and Drier expressed thanks to Cox for his service.