Stand U.P. gets ready to collect funds for road commission appeal

MARQUETTE COUNTY — While the wetland fill permit for construction was denied back in 2013, the County Road 595 project, which would have connected County Road AAA to US-41 in Marquette County, has not gone away.

“I think the name Stand U.P. came from frustration more than anything,” said Tony Retaskie, one of the Stand U.P. committee directors. “People saying, ‘we’ve got to stand up to a large entity that’s probably never visited the Upper Peninsula [or] know our way of life, which is mining and logging, and our history,’ so we decided, well, we have to have a name that sends a message, and we want to send a message that we’re going to stand up to this a little bit.”

The non–profit corporation Stand U.P. is in the process of being set up to fund legal expenses for the Marquette County Road Commission’s appeal against the Environmental Protection Agency in regards to objections that resulted in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s denial of the fill permit. Because the commission’s board decided not to use any public money for the suit, the funding needs to come from another source.

The new corporation’s future chairperson said the request for its formation came from Senator Tom Casperson’s office.

“We were asked to set up a 501(c)(4) corporation, which will be the fundraiser, so to speak, for these funds that are needed to file this appeal,” said future chairperson Deborah Pellow.

Once all of the technical and legal details required to form the corporation are complete, Stand U.P. will be setting up a website where citizens can donate funds to the cause. The three members of the group come from varied backgrounds, and have expressed their reasoning behind supporting the road commission’s actions.

“I feel strongly for two reasons,” said Stu Bradley, who will serve as secretary–treasurer for Stand U.P. “Environmentally, because we’re putting an awful lot of pollutants in the air with all those extra miles the trucks are driving, and the safety — the road safety — by a 21 mile or 22 mile that would take vehicles off of the main drive and not go through NMU and not go through Marquette. It’s just a safe thing to do.”

“The EPA was offered a huge amount of wetlands in exchange for what we were going to do by making the 595 road, so it was a huge exchange, we could have gained on wetlands, and yet we weren’t able to build this road,” said Retaskie.

“The biggest concern is, we’ll never build another road,” said Pellow. “We’ll never build another road in the U.P. if this is the standard and the regulations they’re going to hold us to.”

Stand U.P. hopes to be up and running in around a week.