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Mackinac Bridge paint job begins April 6

March 31, 2017

ST. IGNACE —  For the first time in its 60-year history, one of the Mackinac Bridge’s iconic ivory towers will be stripped down to bare metal and repainted.


Beginning April 6, contractors for the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) will begin a nearly two-year project to remove the original paint from the bridge's north tower and repaint it. Contractor Seaway Painting, which most recently repainted the bridge's south approach span, was awarded the contract with a low bid of just less than $6.3 million.


"Fans of the bridge should be relieved to know that when this project is done, the tower will still be the same classic ivory that everyone recognizes," said MBA Executive Secretary Bob Sweeney. "Apart from brightening the appearance of the bridge, a quality painting project goes a long way toward ensuring the bridge is protected from the elements."


The project will begin with stripping and painting on some of the tower's interior "cells," followed by installation of an enclosure on the outside of the tower in late April or early May.


The original paint is lead-based, and Seaway is required to contain 100 percent of the paint as it is removed, test it, and ship it to an appropriate landfill facility. The new paint, which is zinc-based, is expected to last at least 35 years with periodic maintenance.


Sweeney said that until the 1970s, the bridge authority hired contractors to spot paint the bridge towers as needed. Since the late '70s, MBA employees have handled that task.


Seaway is required to complete the project by Dec. 31, 2018, though Sweeney said they hope to get most of the painting done this year, if the weather allows.


During painting, the contractor will need to close the outside two lanes of the bridge near the north tower to stage equipment. Sweeney said closures on the northbound lanes will be lifted on Fridays and on southbound lanes on Sundays during the peak traffic weekends. Lane closures also will be removed as needed for other high traffic volume times, such as holidays.


The MBA also plans to have the south tower stripped and painted beginning in 2019. The contract for that project will go out for bids in early 2019.


Construction on the Mackinac Bridge began in May 1953, and the completed structure was opened to traffic on Nov. 1, 1957. The MBA's sole source of funding is from tolls and fees collected, with all revenue used to maintain, operate and protect the bridge.



Mechanic inspections now required for rebuilt salvage vehicles

March 30, 2017

LANSING — Under a new state law now in effect, damaged vehicles deemed salvage must be inspected by a certified mechanic before being allowed back on the road, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson recently announced.

Previously, only an inspection by a trained law-enforcement officer was required to verify that the vehicle was not repaired using stolen auto parts. The new law adds a certification by a licensed mechanic to ensure the repair work was done adequately and the vehicle is safe to drive.

“Michigan car-buyers now will have peace of mind that a newly rebuilt vehicle they buy has been inspected by a certified mechanic and wasn’t repaired poorly,” Johnson said. “I thank lawmakers for approving this important consumer-protection law.”

People who have repaired a salvage vehicle must use the same salvage-vehicle inspection form, which now includes a section for a certified mechanic to fill out. The form is available online or at any Secretary of State office. Once completed, the vehicle owner must submit the form at a Secretary of State office along with the vehicle’s salvage title and a salvage certification form before receiving a rebuilt salvage title.

Salvage titles are issued to distressed vehicles that weigh 4 tons or less and were manufactured in the last six model years, or those that weigh more than 4 tons and were manufactured in the last 16 model years. A vehicle becomes distressed when one or more of its major components, such as bumpers, engine, body or frame, have been wrecked, stolen or missing so the vehicle’s estimated damage is from 75 percent to less than 91 percent of its pre-damaged value.

A seller is required to disclose if the vehicle has a salvage title. Car buyers should watch for an orange title when purchasing a car. An orange title means that the vehicle has a salvage title, and may not be worth as much as the same car with a green or “clean” Michigan title.

Canadian toll adjustments at International Bridge based on currency rates


March 30, 2017

SAULT STE. MARIE — Bridge customers paying Canadian currency will see the toll rate adjusted due to the current value of the Canadian dollar. The changes, effective Saturday, April 1, are a result of the mandated exchange review conducted by bridge officials twice each year. The U.S. fare will remain unchanged at $3.50.


Starting April 1, the passenger vehicle rate for Canadian currency will change from $4.50 to $4.60. The three-tiered U.S. commuter rates are unchanged at $2.45, $2.80, and $3.15. Canadian currency commuter rates will be $4.14, $3.68, and $3.22. IBA's Prox card commuter discount program is based on the number of one-way crossings on each account. Customers with Prox commuter accounts have online access and payment options, while receiving discounts up to 30 percent off the regular cash rate. Discounts are based on the number of crossings in the previous 30 days. Commuter account balances do not expire.


"Since 2002, to maintain compliance with the bridge authority's Canada/U.S. operating agreement, the rates are reviewed each April and October," said Peter Petainen, International Bridge Administration (IBA) general manager. "This is a mandatory semi-annual adjustment due to changes in the value between the U.S. and Canadian dollars."


IBA officials stress that much of the bridge's toll revenue is funneled back into the community, making the bridge not just a connector between the twin cities but a major economic driver in both communities. The operation and maintenance of the International Bridge is totally self-funded, primarily through bridge tolls. It is not subsidized by any state, provincial or federal government entity.


"The toll revenue we collect is not just used to maintain the excellent condition of the bridge," said IBA Chief Financial Officer Crystal Knutsen. "We put $6.6 million back into the local economy on an annual basis, split equally between both Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan."


Knutsen also points out that the bridge has recently experienced an increase in commercial traffic. "That's a good thing for everyone," she said. "Even though commercial traffic only represents a small percentage of the total bridge crossings, close to 40 percent of our toll revenue comes from commercial tolls. Commercial traffic helps keep toll rates for passenger vehicles lower."


For a complete list of International Bridge tolls, visit the IBA website at For more information on the International Bridge, please visit or follow us on twitter at

Sen. Schmidt announces coffee hours in the district

March 29, 2017

LANSING — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt will hold coffee hours with constituents throughout the 37th Senate District next month.


The senator will be available to answer questions and provide information and assistance, as well as take suggestions on issues affecting communities and businesses in the district. No appointment is necessary.


For more information or to contact Schmidt, please visit Senator Wayne or call 517-373-2413.


Sen. Schmidt’s April coffee hours in the local area are as follows:

Thursday, April 13

MDOT meeting to discuss transportation plans


March 27, 2017

SAULT STE. MARIE — The Michigan Department of Transportation has scheduled a series of annual public input sessions to discuss the department's Five-Year Transportation Program and the State Transportation Improvement Program.


Three meetings to present and discuss the plans are scheduled in locations throughout MDOT's Superior Region to accommodate residents of the region's 15 counties. The meeting to discuss Chippewa, Luce, and Mackinac counties will take place on April 6 in Sault Ste. Marie at theInternational Bridge Administration, James McIntyre Conference Room, located at 934 Bridge Plaza, from 3 to 5 p.m. Residents and business owners are encouraged to attend.

MDOT's Five-Year Transportation Program, as well as a searchable map of projects, is available at

LSSU accepted as MCRN affiliate
Internship program available


March 26, 2017

SAULT STE. MARIE —  Lake Superior State University has signed with the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MRCN) as an affiliate, enabling it to offer assistance to small companies through the SCIP/TCA and SCIA programs.


The Small Company Internship Award (SCIA) program provides funding to help small businesses hire university students to work as interns on projects that are both beneficial to the company and academically relevant to the student. Especially targeted toward Michigan businesses in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field, the SCIA program is designed to increase students’ exposure to innovative processes and products emerging from companies that employ high-skill workers and to encourage student job placements with innovative and dynamic Michigan companies after graduation. Technology-based companies should submit applications to LSSU by April 15 for the limited number of $3,500 internship awards available. See more information and application forms at


The Small Company Innovation Program/Technology and Commercialization Assistance (SCIP/TCA) program provides matching funds up to $40,000 to Michigan small businesses to help cover the cost of conducting a project at any state of Michigan public university. The program is intended to help small companies access university resources to get to commercialization faster. LSSU has engaged in several SCIP/TCA projects to date. For more information visit the LSSU Business Engagement Center web site at


For more information, contact the LSSU Business Engagement Center by email at or phone 906-635-2738.

Rudyard Lions Club seeks nominations for Community Service Award
Graduating Rudyard seniors are eligible

March 22, 2017

RUDYARD— While sitting in a restaurant or meeting in a local store, conversations overheard are many and varied.  Often, the benefits of living in a small town come up for discussion.  One point of constant agreement is that if someone needs help in the community, a volunteer steps forward and despite other pending commitments,  help is given freely.


To honor that unselfish spirit, the Rudyard Lions Club gives an annual Russell LaPonsie Community Service Award.  This is given to a graduating senior from Rudyard High School who has shown a commitment to community service over the course of their high school career.  This is not an award that can be applied for; nominations are gathered from community members of Rudyard, Kinross, Trout Lake and Dafter from individuals who have worked with and witnessed these students and are aware of them as volunteers.  Examples of the types of activities include blood drives, scouting activities, cleaning up and raking leaves, checking on neighbors, visiting in hospitals, leading Sunday school outings, assisting local service groups and/or doing the things that usually remain unnoticed but add to the quality of life for individuals or the community. 


The Rudyard Lions Community Service Award is given in memory of Lion Russell LaPonsie and includes a scholarship of $500 for use by the recipient to further their education or training.  This award can only be given with input from the community by your nominating an individual.  Letters of nomination, explaining who the graduating Rudyard senior is and why that individual should be considered for the award, can be directed to:  Community Service Award, Rudyard Lions Club, P.O. Box 173, Rudyard, MI  49780 or emailed to  Nominations may also be dropped off at Spencer Insurance Agency, located on Main Street in Rudyard.  The deadline for submitting nominations is 4 p.m., Wednesday, April 26.

Crafter’s wanted

    Craft Show will be held on Saturday, June 3 at the American Legion Post #393 in Hulbert.

    Cost for vendors is $20 for an inside, 10 x10 space, 1- 8ft table and chair furnished,(smaller & larger sizes available). Contact Heather Frank at (906) 274-5228 or email: for more information.

St. Mary’s School hosting annual raffle

Buy your St. Mary's Raffle tickets from

Bernice Scozzafave  by calling 906-248-5277 or email her at  1st place prize is  $10,000,  2nd place is  $2,000, plus 10 additional $100 prizes. This is tax-deductible purchase.  Better odds than the lottery-only 3,000 tickets printed. Drawing is May 4th at 7 p.m. at St. Mary's School.  They will be having dessert and coffee from 5 to 7 p.m. before the drawing. Tickets are $20.

   View all jobs here

Winter Farmer's Market

Saturday, April 1
Bayliss Public Library
Open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Don’t forget to visit our local Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. Conveniently located inside of Bayliss Public Library, you can shop and support local vendors, while remaining warm and dry. 

Humane Society to hold fundraiser     


Donations needed for auction

Best of Friends Humane Society is taking donations of gently used goods (except clothing) for a fundraising auction to be held in late April.  The event will be conducted by Royale Treasures Auction with proceeds going to help EUP animals in need.  Over the past five years, the organization has assisted more than 500 low income pet owners with their pets’ veterinary care.   Call Best of Friends 906-440-8309 for drop-off locations in the Soo.  Pickup may be available.  See items to be auctioned on Best of Friends Humane Society’s Facebook  page.

The time and date of the auction will be announced in the coming weeks.

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