Wakefield Township aims for nonpartisan ballot status

By P.J. GLISSON news@yourdailyglobe.com WAKEFIELD – Members of the Wakefield Township board voted Tuesday to back a resolution in support of Michigan townships having the option to present their board openings as nonpartisan on election ballots. The resolution is being distributed and collected by the Michigan Townships Association, in which Gogebic County has a branch. Township clerk Mandy Lake explained that persons seeking positions on the Wakefield Township board now run as a Democrat or a Republican, whereas if the system changed, there would be no need to declare any political affiliation. Lake was running the meeting in the absence of township supervisor John Cox. In other news, Lake also shared a written report by Cox on an area strategic planning meeting that he attended on March 18 at Gogebic Community College. Cox reported that he was the only township representative among 30 or so persons attending the meeting, which included folks from local businesses and city governments and from Aspirus Ironwood Hospital. The supervisor added that attendees broke into five groups to identify local concerns and then shared them with the room at large. According to Cox’s report, his group identified the following five areas in need of attention: 1. Collaborating more effectively with townships, cities and schools 2. Tapping people with experience to train our workforce 3. Harnessing people with economic resources to help our schools and businesses 4. Hiring an economic development director 5. Improving internet and technology services A previous Globe story summarized a general meeting consensus that this region is challenged by poverty, a declining population, a lack of collaboration, and mismatched workforce skills. Cox’s report stated that another strategic planning meeting will occur soon. The board also: –Voted to authorize Cox to sign contracts up to $50,000 for the Gogebic County Road Commission, as he has done in the past. –Voted to authorize Cox to re-hire Austin Ahonen and to hire Niko Hewitt as summer laborers at a cost of $10 per hour. The labor to be done will include grounds maintenance, brushing, spring clean-up and general cleanup. The boys also may participate in miscellaneous assignments, including a community survey for the township’s pending new master plan. –Heard treasurer Joan Dalman report that the Michigan Townships Association seeks a fair distribution of potential funds to be garnered from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed higher gas tax. Regarding taxes targeted for roads, Dalman said of MTA members, “They want more of the money to go to the local levels.” The board’s next regular meeting will be on May 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the Wakefield Township Hall at 414 N. County Road 519. The public is welcome.