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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I've been away for a while, but have a lot of new information for you. Along with several other Presque Isle County representatives, I visited a large power plant owned by the Central Louisiana Electric Company (CLECO), actually three individual plants: gas (Rodamaker #1), coal (Rodamkaer #2), and a new mixed fuel plant (Rodamaker #3) under construction and very similar to the Wolverine Clean Energy Venture proposed for Rogers City. The trip was very interesting and it included meetings with government, health care, and school officials who told us about their community's experience with the Rodamaker Plants, a tour of the site, and visits to some community facilities. During the “wrap-up session” conducted Thursday late afternoon, Feb 19, 2009, I took the following note:

- Two major challenges were: traffic and housing
- Two major benefits were: local workforce opportunities and increased economic activity
- The officials we talked with noted no crime problems related to the plant construction workers
- Fire, police, and other government services were generally adequate to meet the demands of
the increased population and activity
- Direct costs for traffic control were paid by CLECO
My comment: Rogers City staff needs to look closely at all expected costs, since increased tax
revenues will come after people arrive (we will need to document any shortfalls)
- Officials had concerns about zoning, especially for trailers on private property
- Water and sewer hook-ups were an enforcement issue (trailer hook up in a back yard
with a jury-rig sewer connection)
- Emergency planning needs careful review and evaluation before construction starts
- 911 routing for cell phones and cell phone coverage (workers try to use cell phones, but they
won’t work)
- Hazmat review (what is coming)
- Contingency plans review (all possible hazards)
- Road infrastructure takes a beating due to high volumes of traffic and heavy trucks
- Alternates routes need development (airport road extension and Park drive extension)
Funding for road work needs to be created (MEDC, Wolverine, etc)
- Medical Issues needing review:
o Walk-in Clinic (opportunity)
o LPN availability on the construction site
o Ambulance availability (are three enough?)
- Educational issues
o Special needs students may increase from workers families
o Some new students may stay less than a year (transient workers)
o Estimated about 40-60 new students
o Worker training opportunities (welding, metal work, construction trades)
- Employment, education, and training opportunities will be available for the community (with
- Education of the general public is critical to help people understand the many changes that will
happen; there will be many impacts on local citizens because shopping, dinning, housing, and
roads will have more traffic/demand
- A clearing house for information about business and job opportunities is helpful, such as the
Chamber of Commerce and or Michigan Works
- Wolverine plans to continue to use the Citizen’s Advisory Group as a liaison with the

Overall, because of the information I obtained during this trip, my assessment of the Wolverine “Clean Energy Venture” has become more favorable. I think the entire travel group shares my feeling that this project will be a tremendously positive opportunity for our community. However, Wolverine does not yet have an Air Quality Permit, nor have they made a final decision to build. Therefore, we should all continue to lobby for the State of Michigan to approve the project.

If the go ahead is given, we will have about six months to get our act together. If we are prepared for the “fire hose” effect (rapid increase in people and activity) that will begin to come our way, we will be better able to take advantage of the opportunities. There is a lot of planning and preparation (throughout the entire community) needed for us to take full advantage of this once in a life-time opportunity.

Thank you to the City Council for sending me on this trip. Thank you to Ken Bradstreet and Wolverine for making possible this educational trip. If you have any questions, please let me know.

P.S. I'll post some pictures of the CLECO site soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Links to Travel Michigan and Others

Promoting Michigan is a good thing! Ron Rademacher of travel Michigan offers the following links for your use:

The February 2009 issue of the newsletter is on line at www.travelinmichigan.com .
Winter will be over soon in our wonderland but there are still some cool festivals.
The Outhouse Classic takes place in Trenary this month.
Links to www.michiganbackroads.com and www.upnorthmichigan.com are included.

Check out all the cool things to do in Rogers City this winter via our events calendar on the home page. Don't forget our great Antique and Vintage Snow Mobile Show on March 13-14, 2009 in downtown Rogers City. It is one of our 1,001 fun things to do!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Help with Your Taxes

Do you dread doing your taxes each year? I know that I don't enjoy it!

Unfortunately, the time to file your Federal and State tax return is approaching, but there is help available! Don't wait until the last minute! Call the good folks at the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency, Inc. (NEMCSA) toll free at 1-866-484-7077 x 252.

NEMCSA has a free tax preparation assistance program. The tax laws allow a great many ways for you to reduce taxes due to the IRS. If you don't know about these ways to reduce your taxes, then you can not use them! NEMCSA will help you take all the legitimate tax deductions to which you are entitled. Check out this link to find out more:

Agriculture in a Turbulent Economy

Click on the link below to see more information about a Michigan State University (MSU) webcast on Agriculture in a turbulent Economy. MSU Extension (Cheryl Peters) brings this webcast to Presque Isle County because agriculture is very important to our community both as a way of life, a key part of our local economy, and our potential for agricultural development.

This webcast presentation will explore what the credit crisis is and what it means for agriculture. This session will examine the origins of the credit crisis, the international dimensions of the problem, and the implications of the crisis for agriculture in 2009 and beyond.

Representatives from Greenstone Farm Credit Services and USDA-Farm Service Agency will also be present to talk about the changing agricultural economy and what farmers need to be prepared for during the difficult economic times ahead.

When: Thursday February 19th 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Where: Presque Isle County Courthouse in Rogers City
Cost: FREE!


Don't miss this great opportunity to learn more about local agricultural opportunities and how to make it through the current economic crisis.