KBIC casino funds being used wisely in community

A pair of drowning deaths last summer in choppy Lake Superior waters off the Little Presque Isle recreational site north of the city of Marquette left the community reeling. And although the specific circumstances made it impossible for law enforcement, US Coast Guard, fire departments or anyone else to rescue the victims, the tragedy got people in the area talking about how effective the area’s emergency response capability was.

The first positive move taken during the summer was the construction of several lifesaving stations at Little Presque Isle, which is often packed with swimmers and sun worshippers on days similar to the one last June 11 when the drownings occurred. The stations are stocked with life rings, life jackets and other equipment to assist in waterfront rescues. Chocolay Township also plans similar stations, although those have not yet been built.

Then, last fall, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community provided upwards of $20,000 to the Marquette City Fire Department and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for two pieces of robotic lifesaving equipment known as EMILY ERS — Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyards Emergency Rescue Systems. It’s a 4-foot-long remote controlled buoy that can be operated from shore, capable of traveling through waves and rip currents at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour to reach distressed swimmers.

More recently, KBIC stepped up again, this time providing Marquette Township $10,500, cash that will be used to purchase a personal watercraft and transport trailer, further improving the ability of local units to respond to an emergency on the lake.

Obviously, there are no guarantees when venturing on or into the lake. The cold water and unpredictable currents have taken lives before and in all likelihood will take them again. That said, we applaud the tribe for providing much-needed money and local emergency managers for making the right decisions on how to spend it.

Mining Journal (Marquette)