Onaway city commission and speedway plan for big 2018 event

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
After a successful 2017 at the Onaway Speedway, new owner Mike Sturgill already has his sights set on another successful year in 2018.
Sturgill attended Monday’s Onaway City Commission and talked about a marquee event that is likely to bring thousands of people to the sturgeon capital.
The second-year speedway owner is going to bring back semiraces to the Allis Township oval, May 18-20. Setup and practice would be May 18, while the racing would be Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. each day. Sturgill went before the commission to seek support for a truck parade through the heart of downtown.
“All truck races that we go to in Quebec, there is a truck parade in town,” said Sturgill. “Usually, Saturday before noon. I wondered what your thoughts would be before I pursued it.”speedway
Mayor Gary Wregglesworth and commissioner Chuck Abshagen spoke in favor of the idea.
“I think anything we can do to bring more tourism in, it is great,” said Abshagen, who will be taking over as Onaway’s mayor at the start of 2018.
Wregglesworth said it would be important to get any parade permits 90 days prior to the event because the main arteries through Onaway are state highways.
Sturgill said there could be 60 race trucks “and 100 or 300 show trucks. This is going to be a big event. We have sold tickets from as far away as Nevada, as far south as Florida and Maine, all over Canada,” he continued. “I think Fox News may come, we are working with them. It’s going to be the first time ever in the state, so it is going to be a big deal.”
“MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) may have some concerns…it’s just something we will have to see,” said Wregglesworth.
“We take our trucks through the Fourth of July parade,” said Sturgill, who owns and operates Precision Forestry. He believes there could be as many as 12,000 people in Onaway for the weekend, but the number could be 20,000. “I cannot imagine it being less than 10,000 people,” said Sturgill
“I think it is doable,” the mayor added. “I think the only problem they might have is impeding the flow of traffic for too long.”
Abshagen suggested Saturday of the event to bring the most people out.
The commission asked city manager Kelli Stockwell to start a dialogue with MDOT.
Earlier in the meeting, speedway announcer Doug Crawford received the commission’s support for a military flyover over the town during Memorial Day weekend.
However, city officials suggested he seek the support of Allis Township board, the location of the speedway. Crawford is trying to get a checklist of items completed to bring the flyover, that more than likely will be helicopters.
The city and Sunrise Communications, LLC are a step closer to a new 10-year franchise agreement.
Since last month, when the city passed a motion giving the local cable and Internet company 30 days to remove its equipment from water tower property, negotiations finally got off the ground. Since talks have picked back up, any evictions are on hold.
Terms of the new agreement include an annual 3-percent increase.
“In the old agreement we did not collect a fee,” said Abshagen.
“We traded it for them covering the filming of the meetings,” said Wregglesworth.
“The commission determined that it was not fair that we are charging other people for using facilities up there and not charging (Sunrise) at all,” said Abshagen.
“And there were some people who thought, not everyone gets cable,’ said Wregglesworth. “So, the people with satellite dishes are subsidizing the service through their tax dollars.”