Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Township board votes to accept ownership of spring


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Ironwood Township — For the second time in four years the Ironwood Township Board of Trustees voted to take ownership of the natural spring off Lake Road near Little Girl’s Point Monday.

The board’s decision came in anticipation of an expected decision at the Gogebic County Road Commission meeting that same night to either transfer the property to the township or pull the pipe that people use to get water from the spring.

“If we don’t take possession of it, their plan is to go ahead and pull the spring. So we need to decide what we’re going to do with this matter,” Supervisor Jay Kangas said.

“It’s my position that I think the township should take it over, and then let it go as it is,” Kangas said later in the meeting.

The township board previously voted to accept ownership of the land containing the spring from the road commission in the fall of 2016. However, former supervisor Jim Simmons reported in February that it appeared the process of actually transferring the property from the road commission to the township was never completed.

Several board members Monday commented on the popularity of the spring and the widespread support in the past for keeping the spring running.

Road commission manager Barry Bolich said the road commission board didn’t take any formal action on the spring Monday, but there isn’t expected to be any opposition to giving ownership of the spring to the township.

“Based on how we’re funded, we cannot operate things like that outside the right-of-way. So, instead of just closing it, we worked with the township for them to take it over and continue serving the public,” Bolich told the Daily Globe Tuesday.

He called the solution a “win-win for everyone.”

The process of transferring ownership of the spring from the road commission to the township began in August 2016 after the spring tested positive for coliform bacteria.

The bacteria, while not necessarily dangerous itself, is often used as an indicator that a water supply has been contaminated by outside material, according to officials with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department.

The officials believe the spring was damaged in the July 11, 2016, storm that caused flooding in parts of Little Girl’s Point.

Signs have been posted at the spring warning that the water shouldn’t be considered potable, or safe to drink, after someone may have gotten sick from drinking from the spring after it was damaged. The signs are intended to prevent the township from incurring liability if anyone gets sick in the future.

In November 2016, township workers moved the spring’s exit pipe roughly 21 feet away from its former location to move it out of the right-of-way and the damage to the pipe was repaired.

In other action, the board:

—Approved a series of amendments to the township’s 2020 budget.

—Passed a pair of resolutions making Kangas the township’s coordinator for Freedom of Information Act requests and a co-administrator of the township pension plan with clerk Mary Segalin.

—Agreed to a citizen request to amend the minutes from several 2019 meetings to reflect that pending litigation was the reason for going into closed session.

--Approved the addition of three new firefighters to the township’s volunteer fire department, as well as the officers the department elected at its November meeting.