Pettalia honored with U.S.-23 sign

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Family members of former state Rep. Peter Pettalia gather after the Peter A. Pettalia Memorial Highway sign was unveiled on U.S.-23 North in Presque Isle County on Friday.

PRESQUE ISLE — Almost two years after he died, former state Rep. Peter Pettalia was honored on Friday as the Peter A. Pettalia Memorial Highway was unveiled in Presque Isle County.

State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, pushed for the Michigan Senate to designate a portion of U.S.-23 in honor Pettalia. In May, the Senate Transportation Committee approved the legislation. State Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, also has introduced legislation in the state House to honor Pettalia.

Pettalia was killed on Sept. 12, 2016 in a motorcycle crash in Montmorency County. The 61-year-old was in the last months of his final term in the House, having been first elected in 2010 and reelected in 2012 and 2014.

Before joining the Legislature, Pettalia was supervisor of Presque Isle Township, a founding member of the Presque Isle County Economic Development Commission and the Community Development Commission, and was a volunteer firefighter with the East Grand Lake Fire Department for 15 years.

The Peter A. Pettalia Memorial Highway stretches between Maple Drive and Misiak Highway in Presque Isle County. Stamas said being able to honor Pettalia was a special moment for him, Allor, and the Pettalia family.

“It will be actually two years since we lost Peter and to take the time to make sure we remember him as someone that cared about his community, somebody that loved his family, served his community means a lot to recognize someone that died serving his community and serving his state,” Stamas said.

Karen Pettalia, the late representative’s wife, said the memorial helps keep her hubsand alive with the family.

“It helps my grandchildren realize how important his service was to the community and to the state,” Karen Pettalia said.

Stamas said he drives on U.S.-23 North a lot, so being able to see the highway sign will always be a moment to remember Peter Pettalia.

“Having Karen and the whole family here was also just an amazing opportunity and a great showing from the community,” Stamas said. “We also want to thank the troopers and the sheriff for taking time to be here as well.”

Stamas said Peter Pettalia was someone who was very focused on his family, the community, and transportation.

“This community meant so much to him and you couldn’t walk down the sidewalk and if he was in the area, you knew Peter was in the area,” Stamas said. “You could always hear him say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ And so, we appreciate the opportunity.”

Stamas said Peter Pettalia, who focused on farming and roads and transportation in the Legislature, brought passion to make sure Northeast Michigan was best represented, and people in Lansing knew that.

Both Stamas and Peter Pettalia worked to bring legislators to the Northeast Michigan region and get them to know the area.

“They always appreciated the opportunity to see where Peter and I have the opportunity to represent people,” Stamas said. “He just took that passion that he had here that the community knew and brought that to Lansing and people knew Alpena, people knew Presque Isle and Rogers City, they knew the five counties Peter represented.”

Karen Pettalia said her husband ate, lived, and breathed his job and when he was home, he was always working.

“He was chair of the Transportation Committee, and when he was trying to get the road funding package passed (in 2015), he went to every corner of the state, trying to get input from everybody and made sure that he made a fair package so that it was taxpayer-funded, but fair, as well,” Karen Pettalia said.

Video by Julie Goldberg | The Alpena News

Julie Goldberg can be reached at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5688.