Upper Peninsula organizations plan for using MDARD grants


MARQUETTE COUNTY, MICH., (WJMN) – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently awarded grants to 20 organizations across the state, 9 of the organizations are located in the Upper Peninsula.

The total awarded amount from MDARD was $1.7 million with $744,900 granted to Upper Peninsula organizations.

One of the projects is the addition of a rustic campground along Malton Road in Ishpeming. City Manager, Craig Cugini, says the project will add a rustic option for camping in the area.

“We believe that it will support a lot of our trail networks specifically bikers that have been looking for opportunities do something, drop a tent and be able to get on a trail and bike around and then come back to a tent and we have not had a rustic campground in our area for quite a while or even at all we have some places that have kind of let people use their property but not necessarily have campgrounds our regular campground is set up for RV pads and not regular tenters,” said Cugini.

The campground will be nearby the RAMBA trails and Cugini says they will be working to ensure sites do not interrupt the trails.

“There’s a gravel road that comes off the backside of New York Street out of the City of Ishpeming and it sort of runs along the edge of a cliff area and so there’ll be some campsites there and then directly across on Malton Road there’ll be additional campground sites,” said Cugini.

Cugini says in the future they may expand the campground to include some RV-style sites but for now, they will be working on only rustic sites.

“We think right now we have a great little market we think that it’ll help to keep some of the bikers in Ishpeming rather than heading down to Marquette or some other location where campsites are near the trailhead and so we just think it’s going to be an opportunity to support some of our local riders and pick up some new riders and increase our tourism,” said Cugini.

The City of Ishpeming was awarded $100,000 for the project and will match $30,000 of the money for a project total of $130,000.

“Some of this might be able to be done with some of our local labor as part of the project work or not so depending on how we can adjust things and massage things if I can use my city staff and equipment we might be able to make that dollar go a little bit further,” said Cugini.

The campground will have four total ADA-compliant sites, and 52 total sites on both the east and west side of Malton Road as well as bathrooms with flush toilets and sinks with nonpotable water for handwashing. Cugini says they hope to begin construction as early as this summer and complete it by September. First, he will be working on gathering a community committee and begin finalizing the plans.

The City of Negaunee also received funding from the grant for upgrades to Teal Lake Shoreline Beach Area. City Manager Nate Heffron says the project will involve several components.

“The project includes expanding the sandy beach area from 1,000 square feet to about 1,800 square feet we’ll also put in a ramp for folks that have problems getting down to the beach area so like handicap accessibility,” said Heffron. “We’ll have some additional ADA compliant mats out for folks to go into the actual water itself so there will be some nice features.”

They will also move drainage pipes from where they are currently located on the beach.

“Our intention is to dig a lot deeper down and then push those pipes out in the lake further so that water isn’t discharging onto the beach area and so it’s not washing all of our nice beach sand out into the lake,” said Heffron.

The city will take into consideration input from the public before beginning the project.

“We’re going to start first by planning a little bit here, we have a rough idea of what we’re going to do that’s how we got the project started here,” said Heffron. “So there will be a little bit of engineering, we have some permits we have to go through and then we also want to get some ideas or some input from the public so folks can get involved at those meetings at the planning commission, the parks and rec commission and the city council and then hopefully once we have that all squared away then we’re going to break ground hopefully the summer of 2022.”

Heffron says the project was recommended from the Teal Lake Shoreline Climate and Health Adaptation Vision Study.

“Traditionally the lake has been used as a source of drinking water while it hasn’t been fro quite a number of years so this is why there hasn’t been so many recreational developments done for folks to access it,” said Heffron. “So now it’s time for us to start looking towards the future so we can accommodate our residents that are here and accommodate visitors that are coming to our community.”

The City of Negaunee will match 25% of the funding and is also looking into community partnerships for helping complete the project.

“The grant that we received was $82,600 the overall project is going to cost about $107,000 and then the city is going to have to come up with a 25% match which is roughly around $25,000,” said Heffron. “We will be trying to look for any community organizations that might want to partner with us and help fund part of the match of this project.”

Heffron says to find the City of Negaunee on Facebook for updates on the project and to find out how to get involved.

Another project is located in the City of Marquette at Lakeshore Depot. Lakeshore Depot is a small grocery store that focuses on stocking local and Michigan-made items. They were granted $100,000 to help make improvements that will allow them to stock more items according to Michael Hainstock.

“We’re going to use it to expand our facilities here we have some space adjacent to us that we’re hoping to move into, purchase several additional coolers, put in a large back stock cooler, just generally increase our capacity to sell and merchandise local products,” said Hainstock.

The addition will expand them from 500 square feet of space to utilizing 2,000 square feet. Hainstock says people are interested in shopping local when they can and Lakeshore Depot strives to be a source for people to find local goods.

“We serve to be an additional outlet for people to you know go and kind of conveniently shop from multiple different farms and vendors in the area and sort of operate as a hybrid of a grocery store and a farmers market kind of trying to combine the best aspects of both,” said Hainstock.

Lakeshore Depot sources items locally first, then expands to all of Michigan and beyond if they cannot find it in the area.

“The vast majority of the stuff we have is from at least within the state of Michigan if we can source something locally we try to source it locally and then we go to the state of Michigan and kind of like to the midwest you know for any other specialty items that we aren’t able to get here and then that’s kind of our cut off for how far we will source from,” said Hainstock.

Lakeshore Depot is also required to match $30,000 of the grant.

“Our project budget was actually quite a bit more than that so we’ll be doing a crowdfunding campaign we’re going to do later this year and kind of a couple other fundraising things too” said Hainstock.

Hainstock says he’s most excited to have the proper facilities to operate, have increased cooler space, better facilities for their staff and continue being able to help support food producers in the area. Lakeshore Depot is also working to relaunch their deli to use more local produce items and highlight what’s in season.

All of the Upper Peninsula projects that will be funded are:

  • City of Ishpeming – $100,000 – Development along Malton Road to create an additional campground and to increase tourism to the region.
  • City of Negaunee – $82,600 – Multiple upgrades to the Teal Lake Shoreline Beach Area.
  • City of Stephenson – $41,500 – Wastewater treatment facility upgrades.
  • Gatien Farm and Forest Products Inc. – $100,000 (Powers) – Upgrade equipment with new highly automated machines for wood products.
  • Lakeshore Depot L3C – $100,000 (Marquette) – Increase capacity for sales, distribution and value-added processing of Michigan-grown produce and agricultural products at a new FarmStop local food store.
  • Mackinac Bluffs Maple Farm Inc. – $100,000 (Pickford) – Construction and installation of a “sap house” that will contain equipment to collect and process maple sap for additional maple syrup production.
  • Noquemanon Trails Network Council – $100,000 (Marquette) – Expansion of parking spaces, a vault toilet facility, and develop a mountain bike skills area for all ages and abilities at Marquette South Trails.
  • Northern Michigan University – $100,000 (Marquette) – Implement a self-contained growing center proposal that aims to enhance and expand a new indoor agriculture degree program at the university.
  • Travel Marquette – $20,800 (Marquette) – Integration of online and print tools to assist citizens and visitors with hearing, vision, and mobility limitations navigate the county.

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