Road commission chief speaks to Golden K

From left, are Golden K member Gilbert Engel; guest speaker Jim Harris Jr., superintendent of operations for the Dickinson County Road Commission; and Paul Ward, Golden K program chairman. Ben Determan photo


For The Daily News

KINGSFORD — A bright sunny Monday morning greeted the Golden K members as they gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Kingsford.

The piano is a large musical instrument. When one hits the keys, the keys hit the hammers and the hammers hit the wires, giving forth musical notes, which is just what Alyce Derwinski does with dexterity. Don Pedo then steps into the director shoes and the singing begins. Renditions of “oldies” fill the hall with singing unmatched anywhere from people who throughly enjoy singing.

Vance Uhazie claimed the 50-50 winnings and the welcome song was sung for Greta Betti and Jim Harris. The two GK men who threw out some bait on their fishing pole project are happily reeling in poles and equipment for refurbishing. Those unable to bring a pole or two to the church Monday morning can always find a GK member wandering around somewhere in the Iron Mountain-Kingsford, Norway, Quinnesec and Niagara, Wis., area who can bring the poles to these two gentlemen. Dr. Paul Jacobs and Duane Barnard are thankful for the equipment already donated and are eager to do more.

Paul Ward, program chairmen, introduced guest speaker Jim Harris Jr., superintendent of operations for the Dickinson County Road Commission. He works with an administrative staff of five, five commissioners with Jim Carey as their chairman and many employees who work long shifts in all kinds of weather conditions. Equipment consists of 22 trucks and two graders for roads that seem endless throughout the county.

Projects are determined by priority and limited funds. Deciding where the money goes requires tireless hours of meetings. There is always more work to be done than money to do it. Each road needs maintenance year-round. With funds available, road commission decides where to use these monies most efficiently, sometimes one mile at a time.

Roads are just one part of what this commission does. There are culverts to be replaced, ditches, drainage problems, tree trimming and mowing roadsides, and handling road kill situation, checking trails for ORVs and snowmobiles, making sure trails are clearly marked for safety of the riders — some are mixed use for bicycle as well — and that speed limits are followed.

They work alongside the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, state Department of Transportation and Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department.

Volunteers who do roadside clean-up are a great help, freeing workers for other tasks. Organizations, clubs and families that help keep roadsides clean play a big part in the success of the road commission litter project. With the GK members about to embark on their fall clean-up, Harris reported the commission gives out vests and garbage bags and will pick up refuse from roadsides when notified.

He cautioned those doing roadside clean-up to play it safe. Do not pick up questionable paraphernalia — call the road commission and they will notify the proper authorities and it will be dispose of safely.

The road commission is on South Milwaukee Avenue in Iron Mountain. They are ready to answer any questions the public might have. Maps are available and anyone who surveys the amount of land they cover — main highways, secondary roads, camp roads, accesses to camping areas, lakes and county roads providing rural areas to highways — and the varying projects they do will be very grateful and thankful they are there.

Golden K meets on Monday. The Golden Throats on Wednesday will sing at ManorCare at Freeman Nursing and Rehabilitation in Kingsford.