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Ontonagon county race offers choice

July 14, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

ONTONAGON - Seven individuals are running for seats on the Ontonagon County Board of Commissioners and will appear on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.

Hubert Lukkari, John Pelkola and Carl Nykanen are all running uncontested. Dennis O'Brien and Jill Johnson are vying for a seat as District 1 commissioner.

"Every time I went to vote, there was never any choice, and I talked with a bunch of people to try to get them to run and nobody wanted to step up," said Johnson of Ontonagon, running as a Republican. "I decided I would."

If elected, Johnson said she hopes to get more businesses to come into the area.

O'Brien of Ontonagon, running as a Democrat, said he became interested in county government and finds it fulfilling and interesting.

"I've had two terms in four years," he said. "If elected again, I hope to be able to see Ontonagon County improve and move forward."

O'Brien said economic changes have put the county in a tough position, but what he appreciates most is the small town attitude where people enjoy working together.

"The big thing we need is good employment opportunities for people and decent paying jobs," he said.

Dale Parent and Robert Niemela, both of Ontonagon, are running as a Democrat and Republican, respectively, for the District 5 seat.

"Hopefully, I can do the county some more good," Parent said. "We have a pretty good board now."

Parent has been on the board for 10 years and if elected again, he hopes to help keep Ontonagon "afloat and out of debt."

"I've been here since 1957," he said. "It's given me a good life so I want to give something back."

Niemela said he became interested in the seat because he has been involved for many years and has invested time and interest in the county.

"I'd like to see mining start up in Ontonagon County again," he said. "I'm a mining engineer. ... (If elected) I still think I can contribute."

Current prosecutor James Jessup is running against Jesse Monville for the seat and Dale Rantala is running against Don Lorendo for the sheriff seat.

Eugene Fiszer is running for county clerk and register of deeds, Diana Killoran is running for county treasurer and William Turin is running for county mine inspector.

There are several proposals appearing on the ballot, including county and township proposals. In Ontonagon County, the public transit proposal asks for a tax levy for public transportation up to 1 mill, which is a renewal of a millage approved in 2008. The millage covers a period of four years, 2012-15 and would raise $247,694 in the first year.

The Ontonagon County Emergency Medical Services proposal ask for a levy of 1 mill for a period of four years, expected to raise $247,694 in the first year. The Community Action Agency proposal asks for a levy of .30 mill for the operation for the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency Senior Citizens Programs. The veterans association millage imposes an increase up to .10 mill to provide assistance to the Ontonagon County Veterans Association in replacing future vans used to transport needy veterans to and from Ontonagon County to the VA hospital in Iron Mountain.

In Bohemia Township, the fire department millage asks for an increase to 1 mill that previously expired and be replaced by 1 mill.

In Interior Township, the fire operating and maintenance proposal asks for 1 mill for a period of four years for fire operations and maintenance. The fire department equipment proposal asks to levy .5 mill for new equipment and expenses and a third proposal, for township roads, asks to levy 1 mill for a period of four years for maintenance and repair of Interior Township roads.

In Matchwood Township, the general operating expenses proposal asks for a levy of 2 mills for four years as a renewal to provide funds to be used for general operation expenses, raising $13,456 the first year.

In McMillan Township, the fire department millage renewal proposal asks for a renewal levy of .5 mill for four years for the purpose of providing operating revenue for fire protection and prevention, expected to raise $6,777.42 in the first year.



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