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Bridge dedicated to Senator Tom Casperson in Delta County

Ilsa Minor/Daily Press (Escanaba) Diane Casperson, wife of the late Senator Tom Casperson, pulls away the cover on the new sign marking the Senator Tome Casperson Memorial Bridge Friday.

ESCANABA — A well-known Delta County landmark got a new name Friday morning, when the Escanaba River Bridge was officially dedicated and renamed as the Senator Tom Casperson Memorial Bridge.

“It’s just really something special to me, and so many others, to have this near the paper mill and in Tom’s hometown and get people to see it everyday,” said Senator Ed McBroom, who succeeded Casperson in the Michigan Senate and worked actively with him while a member of the House.

Dignitaries, members of the public, and Casperson’s family members gathered in the shade of the non-motorized trail tunnel under the nearby train overpass to hear those who worked with Casperson or knew him personally and professionally tell stories about his love and dedicated to the U.P., his family, and his faith.

The bridge was technically renamed at the end of last year, when the bill sponsored by McBroom was signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Dec. 29. However, Friday’s dedication makes the first time any sort of sign has been placed near the bridge marking its dedication to the late senator.

“Right now we don’t pass many bridge dedications of highway dedications to anybody besides fallen officers or military vets,” said McBroom, noting who bridges are named after is largely based on who makes up the legislative committee responsible for that type of legislation.

“It was just one of those things where everything came together and we were able to get it done in two weeks time in lame duck,” he added.

Casperson died at age 61 following a battle with lung cancer.

Prior to being elected to the legislature, Casperson worked for 27 years in his family’s log trucking business, Casperson & Son Trucking, including 12 years as its owner and operator. It was his experience in logging and trucking that prompted his run for office after a woman and her two-year-old daughter died after a logging truck lost its cross-hauled load, crushing the their minivan.

The first bill Casperson passed was legislation to allow crib-style trailers in Michigan. While in the House, Casperson served as an assistant majority whip and as chair of the House Conservation, Forestry and Outdoor Recreation Committee and vice-chair of the Transportation Committee. In the Sentate, he served as chair of the Transportation Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He also served on the Senate’s Families, Seniors, and Human Services Committee and Finance Committees.

He authored 20 public acts during his time serving as a state representative. In addition the the “Crib Truck Bill” of 2003, these included bills requiring the Department of Natural Resources to certify Michigan’s forests as sustainable forests, permitting metallic mining in Michigan, establishing “castle doctrine,” and preventing the state from seizing control of the Mackinac Bridge.

As a senator, Casperson introduced a wide variety of bills, 25 of which were signed into law in his first term alone.

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