EAGLE RIVER - The Copper Harbor Trails Club and the Keweenaw County Trails and Recreation Committee, with the help of students from the Horizons Alternative High School in Mohawk, have the go-ahead to begin construction of a snowboard terrain park at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
In October, the Board of Commissioners voted against using $6,000 from the Keweenaw County Economic Development Committee for a terrain park project at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Since then, the Copper Harbor Trails Club and the Keweenaw County Trails and Recreation Committee have raised $6,000 through pledges. The next step to make the park a reality was to gain insurance coverage in Keweenaw County, which it did at Wednesday's meeting.
At their regular meeting Wednesday, the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners explored their insurance policies in an effort to include the terrain park in their coverage.
Keweenaw County has two insurance policies, Commissioner Carol Rose said - one for Keweenaw County and one for the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, which the county owns.
"We could take the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge insurance policy and put it under the Keweenaw County umbrella and it would cover the terrain park ... it would cover everything," Rose said. "It would save up to $6,000 a year."
The board consulted the county's attorney, Donna Jaaskelainen, whose main concern was that having one policy wouldn't provide enough coverage for the Mountain Lodge.
"At this point in time, I'd probably say 'No,'" she told the board. "It seemed like the previous insurance that was covered, covered the Mountain Lodge better."
The Board of Commissioners ultimately had to consider any liability the Mountain Lodge would be exposed to, and after hearing from Mark Hannula, their insurance representative, the board decided to combine insurance.
"Keweenaw County owns the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, correct?" Hannula said. "You're exposed anyway. By combining the policies, we can do it for a little less expensive and we can add the other activities."
After much debate, the board decided to combine policies, giving the go-ahead for construction of the terrain park before winter.
Also at the meeting, Joe Kezele with the Upper Peninsula Power Company approached the Board of Commissioners concerning radio and cell phone communications in the Keweenaw.
"From Eagle Harbor to Copper Harbor, we have a very poor, if you want to call it that, radio communication and cell phone communication in this specific area," he said.
Kezele said ways to improve communication services in parts of the Keweenaw need to be investigated.
"One of the options that we're looking at is there's a radio tower at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and there are several antennas on it already," he said. "What we would propose is to see if the county is interested in entering some kind of rental agreement if we put an antenna on the tower."
The idea is to put an antenna at the top of the tower and then put another antenna halfway up, where one would point toward Mt. Horace Greeley and another toward Copper Harbor.
"That way, we feel we can improve our communications in Copper Harbor per se," Kezele said.
More investigation is needed, Kezele said, and the process may include taking down unused antennae to put new antennae up. With the winter on their heels, the company wouldn't look into actually installing antennae until spring or summer of 2010. Kezele also told the board the company would need access to a control building or a shed at the base of the tower. There is a shed near the tower already.
"If possible, if there is room in that shed, we'd like to see if maybe the county would agree for us to use that shed for some of our receiver equipment," he said.
Kezele submitted a typical lease agreement to the board for their consideration and provided a photo of the tower at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.
Members of the board said they see no issue with the additional antennae but assigned Ray Chase of the EDC to work Kezele on research.
"Knowing you have our support, we just need you guys to come back to us and report what needs to be worked out and what we have to do," Commissioner Joe Langdon said.
Michigan Technological University student Megan Killian approached the board in hopes of hosting a half-iron distance triathlon, the Kuparisaari Triathlon (Kuparisaari being Finnish for "copper island"). Killian said the race would be the first of its kind in the region and it would be held the weekend after the Iron Man Triathlon in August.
"I was hoping to boost tourism a little bit," she said. "Ultimately, what I want is to make sure that having the race up here is well received by the community, by you and make sure that I did everything the right way."
In a presentation to the board, Killian said, "The race will start and finish in an inland lake that offers a warm sanctuary for a 1.2-mile swim. Rolling hills, low-traffic and beautifully paved roads make for a challenging, yet scenic 56-mile bike. Follow that with a Lake Superior shoreline 13.1-mile run and (potentially) a river crossing."
Commissioner Don B. Keith commended Killian for her initiative and bringing the idea to the board and suggested she also approach Grant Township and the Keweenaw County Trails and Recreation Committee as well as the Copper Harbor Trails Club.
"I like the concept and the idea," he said.
In other news, the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners:
tabled the resolution of support for the Community Economic Development Strategy for the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region in order to develop a project list to add to the resolution.
approved a resolution in support for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Keweenaw County that will take place in 2011 in a joint venture with the Keweenaw County Historical Society and Eagle Harbor Township.
Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.