Board discusses potential partnerships, parking ordinance

MARQUETTE — A possible partnership with the sheriff’s office for a weighmaster position, a parking ordinance in Sawyer Township and potential plans for the repair of County Road 607 were all discussed by the Board of Marquette County Road Commissioners at its meeting Monday.

The board unanimously supported further discussion on developing a long-term partnership with the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office for a deputy to serve as weighmaster.

A weighmaster enforces road weight restrictions on commercial vehicles to protect the state of roads, similar to state police motor carrier officers, MCRC Engineer Manager Jim Iwanicki explained.

“That causes us concern, because we have an employee in a road commission vehicle — it’s a pickup truck that’s designated and has those markings on it that says weighmaster pulling over vehicles — and obviously there are safety issues with doing that and (we’re) just looking to see if there’s a way to partner with the sheriff’s department to provide that service for us,” Iwanicki said.

This is a partnership Iwanicki has been working toward for ten years. So far, the commission and department have discussed “contracting with the sheriff to provide weighmaster service either with a half-time position, approximately 1,000 hours of service during the year or providing that service as overtime; the sheriff would outfit the vehicle to carry the scales and would be outfitted as they would any other vehicle; the road commission would be responsible for the cost of weighmaster training,” board documents state.

The partnership with the sheriff’s department will be more costly than the road commission providing the service itself, documents also state.

“If it was half-time with the sheriff’s department, it would obviously be more than what we’re currently putting into our weighmaster stuff,” Iwanicki said. “A rough cost from the sheriff’s department is $46 an hour, so again 1,000 hours is half-time. That’s $46,000, that’s more than we’re spending with our regular enforcement right now.”

Outfitting a vehicle to carry scales, as well as fueling and training would be an additional cost, but overall the partnership would increase the safety of the road commission weighmaster, Iwanicki said.

William Luetzow, chair of the Board of Marquette County Road Commissioners agreed.

“As a road commission employee with a cell phone that doesn’t work half the places where you’re probably at or no radio contact, I feel this is definitely a law enforcement issue where central dispatch knows where they’re (at) at all times. That’s the big thing for safety,” Luetzow said. “So it’s maybe a couple dollars more, but what’s money when somebody gets hurt or whatever?”

The board also unanimously passed a motion to issue a no-cost permit to the Sawyer Operational Authority to place “no parking” signage in road right-of-ways.

The authority enacted a no parking ordinance similar to the city of Marquette’s winter parking ban, explained Sawyer Operational Authority member Bill Nordeen.

Because the U.S. Air Force didn’t use typical street specifications, the streets on the former base are narrower than an average street. This has caused residents to park in road right-of-ways, ultimately making streets difficult for emergency vehicles to travel and to plow, he said.

The road commission was concerned with the legality of the authority placing signage for the ordinance.

After discussing the matter with the board’s legal counsel Iwanicki stated: “The townships or the authority, in this case, has the ability to place those ordinances in place. But we, as a road commission — because they’re not traffic control ordinances — need to be very careful with how we get involved in it.”

The board resolved to issue a no-cost permit for the authority to place the ordinance signs in the right-of-way and that the signage would be white with black lettering instead of the typical white on red “no parking” sign colors.

At the meeting, Iwanicki also made the board aware that he would be attending a Michigamme Township meeting on Feb. 10 to discuss the possible development of an eight-year plan with the township to address the condition of County Road 607.

While the road commission worked with the township to fix the first three miles of the road, roughly 11 to 12 miles of the paved road is still “very rough road,” Iwanicki said.

A road commission engineer is working on preliminary plans to present to the township at the meeting, he added.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.