Baraga seeks disaster funds

BARAGA – Recent flooding in Baraga led to a major culvert failure, and village officials hope to secure state disaster relief funding to fix the problem.

A large culvert on the corner of North Superior Avenue and Hemlock Street will need to be replaced, which could cost $60,000 to $80,000, according to Baraga Village Manager Roy Kemppainen.

“It’s a major problem there,” he said. “We’re just waiting for the state to come up and look at it.”

Baraga County was one of 19 counties in Michigan covered under Gov. Rick Snyder’s May 7 state of disaster declaration, which allocates state and possibly federal resources to areas of need.

“One way or another we’ll need to do some repairs,” Kemppainen said. “We’re kind of in a holding pattern on that right now.”

The village has $60,000 in its local street fund, and the village council expected to select streets to work on this summer at Tuesday night’s regular meeting, but if the village has to pay all costs associated with fixing the culvert, all the local street budget will go to that repair.

In other business Tuesday, the village council:

approved contract extensions for Kemppainen, Police Chief Harry Miron and Department of Public Works Director Bill Marlor. The extension of the contract, which kicks in for one year on July 1, includes a 2.5 percent wage increase with employees paying 10 percent toward health care premiums. The percentage and health care co-pay is consistent with what was approved earlier this year for union employees.

heard taxable values went up approximately 5.7 percent in the village this year. Kemppainen said a Truth in Taxation hearing will be scheduled before the June 11 council meeting. The village would collect a little more than $7,500 in additional revenue if the same millage is assessed.

tabled an electrical interconnection agreement to establish an ordinance involving connecting alternative energy sources to the village system. Kemppainen is consulting with the village attorney first.

asked Kemppainen to arrange for an appraisal on 5 acres of village property on Mission Road due to recent interest from potential buyers. Once the appraisal is done, the property will be put out for public sale.

approved a resolution acknowledging the village has the $50,000 match for a recent Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for the extension of the boardwalk. Kemppainen expects the project, which is described at length in an April 5 Daily Mining Gazette article, to be completed this construction season.

approved a $1,000 donation to the Baraga Fire Department for the U.P. Firefighters Tournament, which will take place in August in Baraga and L’Anse.

heard from Kemppainen the village’s “spring” clean-up will likely take place the second week in June.

approved closure of a portion of South Superior Avenue from 1 to 6 p.m. Aug. 17 for the second annual Cue Cruise car show. More than 60 car owners attended last year’s event, and organizers are hoping to surpass 100 cars this year.

appointed business owners Joe Kayramo and Chimene Puska to the nine-member Downtown Development Authority board.