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Heritage Trail project nearly set

December 28, 2011
By NIKKI YOUNK - Staff Writer , The Daily News

CRYSTAL FALLS - Work on the Iron County Heritage Trail bike path will move forward as soon as the county board receives confirmation that it will not be held financially responsible if the project exceeds the estimated cost of $1.6 million.

The decision was reached following a lengthy discussion between the board and representatives from the Iron County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Friends of the Heritage Trail, and the public.

Project organizers hope to complete phase one of the trail, which will begin at the end of the Apple Blossom Trail in Caspian and end at Pentoga Park, with available grant money.

Julie Melchiori of the EDC explained that grant funds from the Scenic Byways program and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) require a local match.

Initially, project organizers thought that gravel and in-kind work from the city of Gaastra and Stambaugh Township would fulfill the match requirement. However, they later learned that the gravel did not meet MDOT specifications.

Melchiori said that as a result, $80,100 is still needed in local match funds in order to obtain the grants.

She added that the EDC board agreed to put up $41,500 from its investment account and to ask that the county board cover the remaining amount of about $39,000.

Commissioners Wayne Wales and Fran Wills both voiced concerns that the $39,000 amount could increase.

money to a project that could possibly exceed $1.6 million.

"What if the bids come in over that?" he asked.

At the suggestion of Civil Counsel Steve Tinti, the board decided to sign the grant documents with the following stipulations: MDOT sends the board a contract stating that either the project will not exceed $1.6 million or the county will not be liable for costs over $1.6 million, local municipalities send the board contracts detailing their monetary contributions to the project and future maintenance, and the needed $39,000 will be raised at the local level.

In other business, the board:

- Approved the 2012 county budget, including a three percent wage increase for elected and appointed department heads.

- Approved to execute the Union-Pacific ORV Connector Corridor agreement. This action will allow for the connection of Iron County ORV trails to the Wisconsin ORV trail system.

- Appointed Jim Quayle to the EDC Board.

- Accepted a valuable artwork collection to be displayed in the courthouse. The donors informed the board that they did not want their names released at this time.

Nikki Younk's e-mail address is



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