Wakefield Township takes note of rising COVID-19 cases

By P.J. GLISSON news@yourdailyglobe.com WAKEFIELD – At a Wednesday evening meeting of the Wakefield Township Board of Trustees, Supervisor John Cox addressed new concerns about rising local cases of COVID-19. “I had hoped by now that we certainly wouldn’t be sitting with masks,” he said. However, he added, “The kids have not taken this seriously, and as a result we’ve now got a pile of cases in Wakefield.” Cox, who also serves as board chair, said there are cases of the new strain of coronavirus in both the township and city of Wakefield. Gogebic County now leads the western U.P. in the number of people who have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus. That’s according to a Tuesday report from the Western U.P. Health Department in Hancock. Confirmed positive tests as of Aug. 4 are as follows in this region: Gogebic, 98; Houghton, 41; Ontonagon, 6; Baraga, 5; and Keweenaw, 2. “I think it’s just wearing everybody down,” said Cox regarding constant reports of bad news in relation to the pandemic. Trustee Jerry Niemi said part of the local problem is due to some people not complying with recommendations from the health department and from state and national authorities. “It’s kind of like blight,” said Cox. “You ask for cooperation.” He added that he hopes that citizens will use “good, decent, common sense” and comply with directives to wear masks and to avoid crowds. In related news, Cox suggested dropping this year’s annual clean-up, which board members had previously anticipated delaying until fall. The supervisor said he has checked township properties and noted, “There’s nothing that’s going to cause harm to anybody.” He said he’d prefer not to put the clean-up volunteers or the township population at risk. Nobody disagreed, and no formal vote was needed. In other news, Cox suggested that new board members starting in November should undergo virtual training in relation to the three companies with pipelines that run through the township. The supervisor said that Northern Natural Gas, TC Energy Corporation and Enbridge Inc. team up to provide the training, which includes information on how to note pipeline locations and how to detect leaks, etc. One of the main purposes of the training, said Cox, is “so we know what to do in the event of a pipeline accident.” “I think it would be very interesting,” said Denice Laessig, who will be the township treasurer after November’s election. At that time, Jennifer Ahonen also will become clerk, and Robert Drier will become a new trustee. Current Clerk Mandy Lane will become supervisor. After the meeting, Cox noted that he is not aware of any history of pipeline accidents in the township. He said that pipeline companies emphasize that “pipelines are far safer than trucks in the transportation of natural gas and oil.” He explained that TC Energy – also known as TransCanada – has the largest presence in the township, while Northern Natural Gas has the smallest. The former has a plant on Great Lakes Road, and the latter recently installed a new station on M-28. They both transport natural gas. He said Enbridge mostly transports crude oil. Board members also: –Discussed their desire to support a request from the Gogebic Range Water Authority to downsize its membership as part of a move to simplify its organization. No formal vote was taken. –Heard from Cox that the Gogebic County Road Commission successfully sold all of the township’s excess property, including a “barren” 40-acre lot that had once been a test gravel pit. –Heard from Cox that good progress is occurring on township road upgrades.