ALPENA - State Rep. Peter Pettalia, along with a host of other representatives and senators, visited Alpena Monday to update the Alpena Rotary Club about state issues and proposed legislation. The group also took a tour of Lafarge and learned more about the effect the plant has on the local economy, as well as the environment.
Plant Manager Paul Rogers began the tour with a slideshow presentation that explained the production capacity of the plant and remidiation plans Lafarge has in place to improve the land after it has been mined. Rogers told the group that safety, beautification and risk assessment are top priorities of the plant.
He said about 190 workers are employed at the Alpena plant and another 115 at the Presque Isle facility. According to Rogers it pays $2.1 million in local and state taxes, and pumps in $14 million into local contractors and supply sources. It also invests about $300,000 in local contributions and public relation donations.
After the slideshow the group boarded a shuttle that toured the plant and learned about its history, future plans and endeavures Lafarge has for it. .
"This is a great avenue to get my collegues up north and show off what we are," Pettalia said. "I really believe having the chairs of these different committees up here telling people first-hand what is going on with the state of Michigan is a great benefit to the people."
Pettalia said getting other elected officials to visit and learn more about Northeast Michigan is important. He said it allows them to make a more educated vote on some issues, because they have more knowledge about the area and its industry.
"When I bring these people up here they get to see what we are and they like being here, so when I get back to Lansing and I need something done, I can tell them 'I had you there, you saw what it was like and you know the issues,'" Pettalia said.
While on the tour many took photos of ice formations on the walls of the quarry and the large trucks that were busy hauling stone. After the tour was over Pettalia said a facility like Lafarge is a large benefit to any community and teaching others about it is important.
"Lafarge is a huge employer here in Northeast Michigan and oftentimes they are overlooked for being a major contributor to our tax base here," Pettalia said. "Not only are they here doing a great job, putting out a great product and employing 190 people, but its financial impact to the commmunity is great. They are a great contibuter to many organizations and projects that are having a hard time staying afloat and having them as a good neighbor is very important."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.