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Forsyth Township, Marquette County renew agreement

Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch discusses the details of the aircraft emergency response agreement and the lease of the Sawyer Public Safety building with county commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday evening. Marquette County Civil Counsel Wendy Marcotte looks on. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting Tuesday unanimously approved the continuation of the aircraft emergency response agreement and public safety building lease with Forsyth Township.

“This is an agreement between Marquette County and Forsyth Township regarding both the public safety building and mutual aid response in the event of an aircraft emergency at the airport,” said Sawyer International Airport Manager Duane DuRay.

The public safety building agreement includes a two-year lease with Forsyth Township, which will conclude Dec. 31, 2021, for the continued use of the Sawyer Public Safety Building for an annual rent fee of $1.

Within that agreement, Forsyth Township is responsible for all utilities, snow removal, mowing, custodial and building maintenance, the continued use of firefighting equipment provided by the lessor and providing the required insurances, the airport memorandum states.

Marquette County will then provide insurance coverage for the building, assist with heavy snow relocation and allow Forsyth Township firefighting personnel access to the airport tank filling station.

The aircraft emergency response agreement’s purpose is to “provide firefighting and rescue capabilities supplemental to those which can be provided by Sawyer Airport personnel in aircraft emergencies,” board documents state.

This agreement, which would also be extended for two years, requires an annual payment from the county of $15,000 paid quarterly in the amount of $3,750 to Forsyth Township.

“That is to offset their expenses to maintain the safety building with the equipment and the training for their personal,” DuRay said.

The agreement also allows the township up to five hours of use of the K.I. Sawyer Water/Wastewater Department vacuum truck and county operator and reimbursement to the township for the documented costs associated in responding to aircraft emergencies.

“This is an important agreement,” Marquette County Board Chairman Gerald Corkin said. “The primary purpose out there is to provide firefighting and rescue capabilities to supplement those available at Sawyer Airport. That’s a big deal when you look at the big picture.”

Commissioner Bill Nordeen agreed on the importance of the agreement.

“It is a big deal because what happens is you have one or two guys on duty, as I understand it. And if you have a problem, a fire in an aircraft — which if you have a fire in an aircraft you’ve got plastic burning, you’ve got chlorine poisoning — the guys at the airport are going to bring a truck and squirt from outside the truck, so they’re depending on Forsyth to come there and actually pull people out of the aircraft,” Nordeen said. “It’s an important thing, it’s a timely thing, it’s worked well. Thank God we haven’t had any of those. If we ever did, you’d be glad you had Forsyth all ready to go.”

The board also unanimously approved a request for a right of first refusal with Superior Extrusion Inc. for county-owned land adjacent to SEI’s current property.

SEI has “continued to invest and grown at its location at K.I. Sawyer. Unfortunately, SEI has nearly maxed out its ability to grow on company-owned land,” the request states.

The refusal is for a 10-year term and gives SEI the option to lease the property first prior to a third-party. The parties may also agree to an outright sale.

An SEI staff member was present and told the board the business currently employs roughly 160 people and looks forward to its continued expansion.

“You were one of the first businesses to start at Sawyer in ’97 and have grown consistently and been a good employer out there and good to work with, so it’s nice to see them looking ahead to expand it further, so I think this is a wise investment for the county,” Corkin said.

Corkin and board vice chair Joe Derocha were also unanimously reappointed to their seats as chair and vice chair, respectively, on the board for the 2020-2021 term.

“I’d like to thank the board for their confidence. And it’s an honor to serve this board because of your engagement and being very informed on the county issues, so it’s an honor to serve you,” Corkin said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, an individual representing the Michigan Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties asked the board to consider declaring Marquette County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.

“With everything that is happening in the country and even in our state today in regards to our Second Amendment — Red Flag laws, magazine capacity and what not, we the people would like to be assured that our elected officials are going to hold true to defending our constitution and not let our Second Amendment rights be infringed upon,” he stated. “This is why I would like to present this resolution for your review.”

The commissioners and county staff agreed to look into the details of Second Amendment sanctuary counties.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.