Baraga waiting on FEMA relief

BARAGA – The Village of Baraga is awaiting a decision from the Federal Emergency Management Agency concerning flood relief funding, and until a decision is rendered, a summer’s worth of street projects have been delayed.

A large culvert on the corner of North Superior Avenue and Hemlock Street failed during May’s rapid snow melt, and, while it services only one residence, repairing it would set the village back $60,000 to $80,000. The village’s entire local street fund budget for the year is $60,000. The area has been stabilized with a temporary fix.

Baraga County was one of 19 counties in Gov. Rick Snyder’s May 7 “state of disaster” declaration, which made state funding available for relief efforts, and one of the 16 counties approved for relief under President Barack Obama’s June 18 declaration, which made additional public assistance available.

On July 16 at L’Anse Junior/Senior High School, representatives from the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division and FEMA conducted an applicant briefing with community officials, one of only three such meetings held in the state. FEMA field workers met with Baraga Village Manager Roy Kemppainen and Department of Public Works Director Bill Marlor last Thursday.

“They didn’t really give us a date (on when a decision would be given),” Kemppainen said in a Daily Mining Gazette phone interview Wednesday. “We knew we had to take care of the situation one way or another. Until we hear on that, what that’s going to do is put other possible street projects on hold.”

According to Kemppainen, even if FEMA funding is approved, this year’s street projects would likely be rolled over into next year and doubled up with local street funds approved for 2014 projects.

“It’s too late to really start doing things until we find out from FEMA,” Kemppainen said.

While street projects are on hold in the village until FEMA makes a funding decision, another project is moving forward following Tuesday’s regular village council meeting. The council accepted a $74,785 bid from Kahkonen Construction in L’Anse to complete expansion work on the marina boardwalk. The bid was for a 100-foot extension to the boardwalk, but the project budget was $100,000, half of which came from a Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund matching grant.

“We did accept that bid to get started, with the hope we can extend it farther out (than 100 feet),” Kemppainen said.

The project is expected to be completed this fall.

In other business Tuesday, the village council:

approved a $15,000 bid from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Housing Authority to purchase approximately 4.5 acres of village property on Mission Road. A second bid for $10,500 was also considered.

voiced its support to move to a regional designation on a revolving loan fund. Public hearings would be held on the matter before it’s decided.

acknowledged the recent resignation of Ken Hammerberg from the five-person Baraga Housing Commission board, and encouraged people to contact the BHC if interested in applying to be on the board.

noted the second annual Cue Cruise car show is Saturday. Staging takes place at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Cue Master, with a cruise around Keweenaw Bay from 3 to 5 p.m. and a public viewing from 5 to 8 p.m. back at the Cue Master. Free registration for the show is due by the end of today by calling 353-8618.