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Updates, cancellations, closures continue to impact area

MARQUETTE — Some things can be handled online or via regular mail, which during pre-coronavirus days, typically took place in person.

For instance, people can earn their boating, snowmobile or off-road vehicle safety certificates from home with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ self-paced online courses available at Michigan.gov/RecreationalSafety.

To practice social distancing during the pandemic, all traditional classroom-setting courses for these programs have been canceled until further notice, including hunter education field days. However, the online portion of the hunter safety course still is available.

Students with questions about their classes are urged to contact their instructors.

The DNR also announced that anyone interested in cutting and collecting dead or downed trees for fuelwood this year will need to wait until May 1.

Because many residents typically turn in their fuelwood applications at DNR Forest Management Unit offices, which now are closed do to COVID-19 precautions, the DNR has delayed the fuelwood season start date.

These permits are valid for designated state forest lands in the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. Since the quality and quantity of dead wood varies by location, the DNR recommends viewing online maps, found at midnr.maps.arcgis.com, which show where cutting is allowed before applying for a permit.

Up to five standard cords of wood per household may be collected. Wood is for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded.

Application forms are available at Michigan.gov/Fuelwood. Residents are asked to print, complete and return the forms, along with a $20 fee, to the appropriate local DNR office that manages the area of forest where the wood is to be cut. Management unit maps are available online at Michigan.gov. Look for DNR/Managing Your Resources/Forestry/Public Input.

Updated forest road maps now are available online at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads. The maps show which state forest roads are open to ORV use. In the U.P., nearly 6,182 miles will be open to ORVs.

Help available

The Michigan Small Business Relief Fund application has gone live for the Upper Peninsula. Up to $20 million in grants and loans are available to small businesses in the state impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

According to a press release from the Lake Superior Community Partnership, a business to be eligible for a Michigan Small Business Relief Program grant application, it must meet the following initial criteria: 1) Provides support to impacted employees, is located in a downtown district or high impact corridor or has 50 employees or less, or is a company that provides services to companies outlined in the executive order and requires additional employees to support companies or employees impacted by the order; 2) the company has 50 employees or fewer; 3) the company needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business; and 4) the company is able to demonstrate an income loss as a result of the executive order, or the COVID-19 outbreak.

In Marquette County, questions can be directed to the Lake Superior Community Partnership through LSCP Director of Business Development Mary Myers at mary@marquette.org.

“We are pleased to see that the MEDC has so quickly put together a grant and loan package for small business to assist during these difficult times. This, in addition to various other programs at the local, state and federal level will give an initial boost to employers and employees dealing with economic downturn spurred by the pandemic. Please reach out to our Business Development team who is here to serve you,” Amy Clickner, Lake Superior Community Partnership CEO, said in a press release.

To learn more, visit Marquette.org/covid-19/, www.Update906.com, or contact the Lake Superior Community Partnership at lscp@marquette.org. Information is also available at michiganbusiness.org/covid19.

Closures, cancellations announced

Beginning Friday, the Pathways Community Mental Health Authority will close its offices in Marquette, Alger, Delta and Luce counties on Fridays through April 30. While the offices remain closed on Fridays, Pathways CMH will continue to provide 24/7 crisis services. People in crisis or who need information about Pathways services can call the organization at 888-728-4929.

Bay Mills Resort & Casinos has announced that casino operations will remain closed until at least through April 30. The tribe had hoped to reopen for business on April 10.

“We are letting science guide our decisions right now,” said BMIC Tribal Chairman Bryan Newland in a news release. “Our primary goal is to protect the public health, including the health of our loyal patrons and our team members.”

The tribe has committed to paying workers their full salary through April 16. It is unknown at this time if pay will continue past this date. A decision on paying employees past mid-April is expected at the end of the week.

“In addition to protecting the public health, we are also committed to taking care of our team members and protecting the tribe’s long-term economic health,” Newland said. “We are looking at how we can ensure that our team members have the money they need to quarantine effectively.”

The North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the North Country Trail Association has canceled its Saturday hike, with no decision made yet on a possible May hike or whether its May 12 general membership meeting will take place.

Christie Mastric can be reached at cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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