Corkin’s steady hand at county will be missed

It’s been nearly two years since residents and business owners first got the opportunity to traverse Gerry Corkin Drive in Forsyth Township.

That road, which leads to the Marquette Sawyer Regional Airport, the Sawyer Operations Center and Superior Extrusion Inc.’s manufacturing facility, was part one of a multi-million dollar expansion project for SEI. The company’s expansion, which bolstered the local economy and created jobs, was a cause the drive’s namesake Gerry Corkin, championed — and it was one of many.

Corkin was still serving in his capacity as chair of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners when he passed away last week at age 82.

His commitment to public service over the last 50 years has been described as ‘second to none.’ And those who worked with him said the county has lost an important leader in his death. While true, that may be an understatement.

From a Negaunee City Councilor in 1985, to his 37 years on the Marquette County Commission, Corkin made every effort to ensure his constituent’s tax dollars were well spent. He was always looking for community benefit in any action the board took. Corkin strove to make sure local government activities stayed under local control. One of the most recent instances of his local advocacy was in May of this year, when Corkin vehemently opposed legislation that would take gravel permitting decisions away from local units of government.

“Should this legislation become law, local governments would have no jurisdiction over the issuance of a permit, approval, or other authorization for the location, operation, abandonment or reclamation of an aggregate mine” Corkin said in a letter to state Rep Jenn Hill. “If the state succeeds in taking authority away, what might be next?”

Politics was not Corkin’s only passion, he also worked with other area leaders to promote economic development. He served as the chairman of the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission and held many other community positions, according to a Mining Journal article.

Gerry Corkin Drive has two meanings for us. It is a road that was named to honor his commitment to the public. But it also contains a message to those who are left behind. We all need to work for the greater good, to harness some of Corkin’s drive to make his home county a better place for all who live in it.


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