By IAN MINIELLY
Editor’s note: The Daily Globe is counting down the Gogebic Range’s top five stories of 2017 each day this week. The editorial department staff sat down and came up with the annual list, naming Bessemer‘s election and marijuana passage as the third-place story of the year.
Bessemer – For the majority of 2017, the Bessemer City Council and planning commission debated, worked, argued and eventually passed new ordinances allowing medical marijuana facilities within the industrial park by a 3-2 vote.
Rob Coleman and Linda Nelson voted against authorization while Kathy Whitburn, Al Gaiss and John Frello voted yes.
Passage of the ordinance by the council did not end the struggle within the city. Bessemer remains a divided town on the issue of marijuana, as the newly elected council members repealed the measure in just over their first month in office, after mostly running on an anti-marijuana campaign.
Late last winter, the city sent out a public survey to residents. The city received 269 survey responses, with an almost even ratio between male and female returns. The Baby Boomer generation, ages 52-71, had the highest percentage of responses, making up over 48 percent of returned surveys.
Survey results showed 96 percent of residents felt encouraging new business development and growth were important to the city. Public opinion on medical marijuana filling that gap was not as strong, but was favorable. Returned surveys had 49 percent of residents supporting large-scale grows in the industrial area, with 42 percent rejecting the idea outright. Of those supporting the marijuana industry, half wanted the city to provide an open marijuana market, while the other half wanted the city to place limits on the number of grows authorized.
Very few city council or planning commission meetings happened in 2017 where one of