Wakefield Township sees improvements

By John Cox, Wakefield Township Supervisor – WAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP – Wakefield Township has had a very busy year with many changes to our business community. The three pipelines and the electric power transmission lines that cross through our township account for about 52% of our total taxes which support our schools, county government and our township. This past year Northern Natural Gas completed construction of an additional compressor station on M-28 near Jackson Creek. The total cost of this project was $22.1 million. Plans are in the works for additional storage buildings near the new compressor station. Our logging companies and associated industries continue to expand their presence in Wakefield Township. We are pleased to see the employment that it brings to our community as well as surrounding communities. The weather has again cooperated with Big Snow Resorts this year. Initial reports are that the resorts have been doing well again this year. The proposed hotel-casino project is on hiatus, but we look forward to working with our partners to see that this project is realized in the near future. Mining company Highland Copper Company Inc. has secured all of the necessay permits except for the waterwithdrawal, which is currently under review. W h e n t h e demand for copper increases, the price will increase, making the investment attractive for a mining venture in the future. Westfall Tecknik, the new owner of Extreme Tool, now employs 105 people. Extreme Tool started with about 15 people and has grown to be a world-class tool and die company right here in our township. Wakefield Township partnered with Gogebic Range.Net, and Merit Inc. to upgrade internet services. This has resulted in high speed internet for more areas of the township. The township is looking at continuing to upgrade and provide more areas with internet service. We are challenged by the many hills and trees that block service. We will continue to work with our partners to try and solve this problem. The Gogebic County Road Commission has done extensive work this past summer to maintain our roads. Together we completed many projects together including ditching, brushing, chip sealing and culvert replacements. The township board and planning commission are nearly finished with the development of our Master Plan. The door-to-door surveys helped us greatly to determine the priorities and concerns of our residents and businesses. The results will be out for public review this summer. We replaced our township hall doors this past summer with more energy efficient, and fully automatic and handicap compliant ones. This will be easier for citizen access during the elections this year and will save us more money in energy costs. We plan to pave the township hall parking lot this summer. The all-purpose trail from Korpela Road to the city of Wakefield will be constructed with new bridges, culverts and gravel. It will be completed this summer since the $625,000 funding has been secured. This will be an east-west link to other townships and cities. We look forward to the opening of the trail and look to the future in building a bigger network of trails for our residents and visitors to enjoy. The Wakefield Township Board does not forget about our obligation to the taxpayers to continue to provide the best services we can for the funds that we receive. Our audits have consistently had no violations or recommendations. We are cognizant of the loss of population, loss of tax revenue in housing and business, state tax mandates including the transfer of ad valorem taxes to commercial forest and qualified forest properties, and various other tax breaks that the township has no control over. The board is committed to and will reduce expenditures when necessary. We have no plans to ask for increases in millage rates. In summary, the Wakefield Township Board believes that despite the challenges we face, this remains a great place to live, work, play and start or grow a business.