ONE OF MICHIGAN’S most forward-thinking businessmen is moving to Marquette this month from his longtime home in Grand Rapids.
His name is Richard VanderVeen. He’s the guy who had those windmills erected in Mackinaw City–the first privately funded wind power project in the Great Lakes region. He also founded Michigan’s largest wind farm in Gratiot County. Some have dubbed him the “Godfather of Wind Power”.
He’s also gotten involved in solar power. And in a sustainability project in Costa Rica. He’s got a social conscience.
Better yet, he’s not just a rah-rah advocate. He actually makes things work, and he makes them profitable.
So why are he and his wife moving to Marquette? Three reasons, he says: 1) They have family here–a daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild, 2) He adores flyfishing (He was a friend of John Voelker) and 3) He wants to get involved in community-building, and he sees Marquette and the U.P. perfectly positioned for growth.
Which has the Smartzone advocates thrilled. They’re anticipating an upsurge in the number of small but ambitious tech firms locating here in the next few years, and VanderVeen, who’s an attorney by trade, wants to help them with legal issues, governmental regulations, market planning, and cash raising. Oh, and he’d also like to invest in some of them.
Yeah, he kind of sounds like a guy who’d be an asset to the community.
TUESDAY’S SNOWFALL DIDN’T help but the removal of toxic materials from the former Marquette gasification plant near the Shiras Steam Plant continues on schedule.
So far, they’ve removed 57,000 gallons of contaminated water containing volatile organic chemicals and something called poly nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Bad stuff.
They’ve also transported 12,000 tons of soil with a thick residue of tar to the Marquette County landfill.
The water and the soil, according to the DEQ, were pre-tested to make sure they weren’t too toxic.
The DEQ says it’s satisfied with the removal and disposal process so far, especially pleased because Indiana Michigan Power is doing it of its own volition. Total price likely exceeds one million dollars.
The huge hole there will be filled up with clean soil. The future of the site, once remediated, is uncertain. It could be green space, or even development.
A final note: the site’s groundwater, which is moving slowly toward Lake Superior, is still contaminated, and likely will be for decades to come. Test wells will monitor it continuously.
Our coastline may be pretty but it’s certainly not pristine.
GREAT NEWS FOR Marquette Mountain and just in time.
The ski hill has acquired a liquor license and is now in the process of getting full approval from the state. Their expectation? To start serving liquor when they open up for skiing which, judging by the white stuff outside our windows, might be pretty soon.
Normal opening date is Thanksgiving weekend.
Marquette Mountain lost its liquor license earlier this year when former manager Vern Barber left to take a job at Mount Bohemia. The license was in his name.
But now, after a few anxious months, everything seems to be back on track.
In fact, Marquette Mountain is now advertising for a bar manager and bartenders.
One of the perks? If you work there at least 15 hours a week, you get a free ski pass.
ELEVEN MONTHS AFTER settling in on Third Street, Ron’s Taco Shop has vacated and is moving to a new location on Washington Street–the former location of Farmer Q’s.
No word yet on when it’ll reopen because a kitchen has to be installed. The original reopening date was November 11th. They’ve got a ways to go yet.
They’re also looking for some financial help. They’ve joined up with a gofundme.com website, asking fans and supporters to donate $30,000. At last glance, they had commitments for $195.
Ron’s, which had been a late night student favorite on Third Street, will be joining a crowded and increasingly competitive dining scene downtown. There are now at least a dozen restaurants within an easy, five minute walk of the new Ron’s location.
Good luck to all the restaurateurs. Good eating to the rest of us.
AS FOR THE old Ron’s site on Third Street, landlord Don Potvin confirms that Johnny Dogs, a highly regarded little restaurant in Munising, has expressed interest in moving in.
Not a done deal yet, Potvin says, and the empty site has to be cleaned before a new occupant can move in. Attempts by WOTS to contact Johnny Dogs haven’t succeeded yet.
Johnny’s had nothing but rave reviews in Munising. It’s creative and tasty, and more than just gourmet hot dogs. It’s also burgers, sandwiches, whitefish and also something called “Piggy Fries”–housecut French fries topped with cheddar cheese, smoked pulled pork, ranch dressing, and orange pop BQ sauce.
No sprouts, no kale, no coconut water.
If a deal is worked out, here’s a guess: Johnny Dogs will be a huge success on Third Street.
THE BEACON HOUSE will be moving from its Third Street address once the hospital moves to its new location just off of US 41.
In fact, the Beacon House expects to actually construct a new building on the hospital campus, itself. Supporters will soon be announcing a capital campaign to fund the building.
You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a better cause. For the last 12 years, the Beacon House has been providing friendly, comfortable and convenient housing for hospital patients and their families. 175,000 guest nights, all told.
Now, if plans work out, the patients and their families will be living even closer to their hospital services. Win-win. The city of Marquette wins, too: a brand new hospital with brand new, convenient lodging for visiting patients and their families who will likely want to sample the remarkable attractions of the city.
The Beacon House is also hoping to open up a gift and coffee shop in the hospital lobby, with proceeds supporting the Beacon House.
Eventually, the current Beacon House will be sold (with an empty MGH, that’ll be a lot of vacant real estate in that neighborhood), but it’ll remain open and operating until the new campus site is ready to welcome patients.
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