Paul Bunyan statue to return to Manistique

MANISTIQUE — The Manistique City Council took its first steps to return the iconic 45-foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan to the city. The structure will be built at Blanchard Park on the city’s west side.

On Monday night, council approved contracting with Coleman Engineering of Iron Mountain for professional engineering and grant administration services on the Blanchard Park project for a fee of up to $39,000. City Manager Sheila Aldrich said the $39,000 is well below what is allowed by the grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Land & Water Conservation Fund. “Coleman has saved us so much money in the long run over the years. They are very loyal to our city,” Councilman Rick Hollister said.

The park project will include the repair or replacement of existing playground equipment, a small pavilion, skate park, benches and picnic tables, volleyball courts, and fencing.

The original Paul Bunyan statue stood on U.S. 2 in Manistique for many years. The 42-foot plywood sign was blown down in 1975 and was destroyed.

The actual cost of the Paul Bunyan statue itself is expected to be about $45,000. “Fundraising has been going on for several years and the group is about a quarter of the way there,” Aldrich said.

Council also approved renewing its contract with the Michigan Municipal League First Advantage Randoms Program to oversee the city’s random drug testing schedule and results for city employees. The city manager said the corporation had provided these services for nearly 20 years.

“In that time, we have never had an employee fail the random test. I think that speaks very well of our employees.” She added that since the company does not have an agent in the Upper Peninsula, employees who are selected go to Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital for their tests.

In other action, council set the meeting schedule for 2018 for the Downtown Development Authority. Its first meeting will be a joint goal setting session with the city council on Monday, Feb. 26 at 10 a.m. at the Comfort Inn.