Hematites Win, State Population Growth, Opportunity for Rural Voice on MI Supreme Court, Toll Roads, Funds for the UP Approved, and HS Training Opportunity

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This Week in RI

On Wednesday we’ll be publishing our conversation with Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch. Remember that you can read, watch, or listen to all of our Rural Insights Podcast episodes, whichever format you prefer.

Hematites Win

The Ishpeming Girls Basketball team are the new State Champions. Congrats to all the team members and coaches.

State Population Growth

Keweenaw County is on the list of top Michigan counties with population growth. Lots happening up there–check it out.

An Opportunity for a Rural/Upper Peninsula Voice on Michigan Supreme Court

Justice David Viviano has decided not to seek reelection this Fall. That will open up an opportunity for the political parties to nominate a person from the Upper Peninsula and provide a rural voice on the court. Currently the Upper Peninsula has no member of the court on the highest court in Michigan.

Supreme Court candidates are selected at political party conventions. The general election ballot does not show their political affiliation.

It has been decades since the UP has had a member on the Supreme Court. Current members come from urban and suburban communities.

Toll Roads for Michigan

A state House budget committee is looking at a proposal for alternative road funding, including toll roads. The advocates say tolls on the state’s 1,200 miles of state highways could generate $1 billion a year for road repair. (Michigan Bridge, Laura Gibbons, 3.11.24).

Currently residents of the Upper Peninsula are required to pay a toll on the Mackinac Bridge in order to get downstate. There are no other state highway or bridge tolls.

Approved Federal Appropriations Bills Have Funds for Upper Peninsula

US Senator Gary Peters announced continued support for the US Coast Guard Great Lakes Center of Expertise. There will be two center locations: one at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie and one in Ann Arbor. He also announced funding for a new icebreaker for the Great Lakes similar to the capabilities of the USCGC Mackinaw.

Northern Michigan University will receive more than $1.1 million to create a Security Operations Center which “serves as a community-based cybersecurity resource for small business and entrepreneurs throughout the Upper Peninsula.”

This legislation also includes $250,000 to support research at Michigan Technological University in advanced materials and critical minerals used in automotive and defense industries.

Lots more funding for entities throughout Michigan. Go to your US Senator or Congressman’s website for more information.

Training Funds for High School Students

High school students have an opportunity to participate in a training program for this summer and upcoming school year.

Students must be a junior to take part in the program. This opportunity is sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Construction Council and UP Michigan Works. The program pays students $13 an hour in this “learn and earn” program.

Check in with your local education school district, the UP Construction Council and/or Michigan Works for information on how to apply.

From the World Around Us

Lack of available child care costs the economy $122 billion every year, according to a 2023 study from the bipartisan Council for a Strong America.

More than 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2023–more than any year on record, according to the World Of Statistics.

Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm

“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.” Judge Learned Hand.

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” James Madison.

Upper Peninsula Trivia Question

Who was the last justice on the Michigan Supreme Court who hailed from the Upper Peninsula? Where in the UP was that justice from and what years did he/she serve?

Send us your answers. Answers published next week.

Talk To Us

Keep your raves, laurels, rants and darts coming. Send them to us at david@ruralinsights.org. We love to read them.

About Us

Rural Insights connects policy, information, news and culture to raise topics and stories/information you might have not seen or overlooked. We bring you original writing from Rural Insights and other researchers, change makers, and storytellers, as well as our latest research and analysis.

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. David A Wirth on March 25, 2024 at 12:18 pm

    John Voelker of Anatomy of a Murder Fame, when ?, where Marquette?

  2. Stu Bradley on March 25, 2024 at 12:36 pm

    A couple of toll roads are /is probably a good idea….I-75 and I-94 not County Road 581. Also, owners of electric cars should pay a fee each years to help pay for the roads. 12,000 miles @ 25 miles per gallon equals 480 gallons of gasoline. times $0.272 (States gas tax) equals $130.

    • Theresa Gust on March 25, 2024 at 2:33 pm

      My husband has a hybrid–gas and electric vehicle and he already pays an extra $50 for his registration each year on his car that sits in the garage 4 months. He may drive 10,000 miles a year. If his hybrid is charged this I would venture to guess that an all electric vehicle would get the same add on.

    • Stu Bradley on March 25, 2024 at 4:09 pm

      I just checked to MDOT website….EV’s do have a $140 fee

  3. Ann Hilton Fisher on March 25, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    Gotta be Voelker, 56-59.

  4. James S. Katakowski on March 25, 2024 at 2:50 pm

    Toll roads are a nuisance. Take a look at Fla its roads are a mess right now and they have two different types of toll roads. I would rather the State of Michigan run. Our roads to roads are just a middleman, making more money. We also need stronger regulations when they build our roads built to higher specs..

  5. Jared Hautamaki on March 26, 2024 at 8:37 am

    Toll roads, especially public private parternships, are theft of public right of way for private profit. Michiganders should say no to any possible toll roads. Raise taxes on corporations, raise the gas tax, tax EVs, but no tolls.

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