2006-10-07 / News

R. Dan Musser III Appointed to Mackinac Bridge Authority

By Karen Gould

Grand Hotel President R. Dan Musser III of Mackinac Island and Petoskey has been appointed to a seat on the Mackinac Bridge Authority, succeeding Angelo Lanni of Washington, whose term had expired this summer. Mr. Musser was appointed to represent Republicans to a term that runs until June 30, 2012.

"This is the first appointment I actually really sought," Mr. Musser told The Town Crier, Monday, September 18. "Intellectually, I think it will be a challenge and fun."

On a personal note, Mr. Musser said the Mackinac Bridge has played a large part in his family's life, which makes the appointment more significant to him. His great-uncle, former Grand Hotel owner W. Stewart Woodfill, championed the cause for the need for a bridge between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas and he helped lobby in Michigan for its construction.

Mr. Musser's wife, Marlee Brown, is the granddaughter of the late U.S. Senator Prentiss M. Brown, who helped secure funding to get the bridge built. He also later served as the first chairman of the bridge authority.

"Hopefully, my experience at Grand Hotel, maintaining a significant structure, albeit a wooden one, will allow me to bring some insight to the authority," said Mr. Musser.

Governor Jennifer Granholm also made two more appointments to the bridge authority Tuesday, September 12.

In a maneuver designed to allow the governor to appoint authority chairman William Gnodtke to a new six-year term, he was asked to resign from the authority with two years remaining on his current term.

Heidi Watson, a spokesperson for the governor, said Mr. Gnodtke's resignation was just a formality.

"The governor thinks he has done an excellent job as an authority member and wanted to give him a new full term," she said.

"I'm pleased that the governor thinks I'm doing a good job and I'm looking forward to another six years," said Mr. Gnodtke of Charlevoix. "Very honestly, I think she just appreciated the way we handled the situation we were in a year ago."

Mr. Gnodtke was referring to the power struggle the authority had with former Michigan Department of Transportation Director Gloria Jeff that resulted in a formal operating agreement and in December resulted in a state law designed to protect the authority's role over bridge operations.

Mr. Gnodtke was appointed to represent Republicans on the board, replacing Vice-chair Elsa Schaller of Petoskey, whose term also had expired.

Mr. Gnodtke, now retired, was the president of Gnodtke and Associates, a governmental and political consulting and fundraising corporation. He was first appointed to the authority in 1997 by Governor John Engler and reappointed in 2002. His new term expires June 30, 2012.

Robert Struck, a Marquette county commissioner, also was appointed to represent Republicans and will complete Mr. Gnodtke's remaining two-year term, which is set to expire June 30, 2008.

"I hope to apply my background in highway safety and emergency services to help benefit the Mackinac Bridge," said Mr. Struck.

He is the executive director of UP-EMS, a nonprofit resource organization that helps communities across the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan develop and maintain local emergency management services. He also is active in highway safety programs, working with Michigan State Police.

Mr. Struck said he was honored by the appointment.

"The bridge is not just a bridge, it is one of our state's major landmarks," he said.

The authority provides oversight and policy decisions regarding the bridge. The new

appointments stand confirmed unless disapproved by the Michigan Senate within 60 days.

The authority consists of six members, three Republicans and three Democrats, and the director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and includes Murray Wikol of Bloomfield Hills,

Barbara Brown of St. Ignace and Lansing, Patrick Gleason of Davison, and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.

Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the authority, said elections for a new chair and vice-chair will be held at the authority's next meeting, which is scheduled for Friday, October 6, in St. Clair.

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