The Eastern U.P. Transportation Authority is deciding how to handle a ferry captain who suddenly stopped making trips to Neebish Island.
On December 28 the captain of the ferry canceled three trips between Neebish Island, leaving many of those living there with no way to get back and forth.
“There isn’t really anything on the island as far as amenities that you would get on the mainland, i.e. groceries, gas stations, so the people on the island depend on EUPTA for transportation in a safe and reliable manner,” said Erik Baron, Chippewa County commissioner.
Baron said he’s been taking complaints from islanders for the past three weeks regarding the captain. “The situation now really needs some serious action taken,” he said. “There was an obvious breach of contract.”
According to one islander, Lori Miller, they were told the captain of the ferry Jaime Pringle was unable to crew the boat, but Miller isn’t buying it.
“They were told it was because the deckhand couldn’t get to the ferry,” she said. “We didn’t have a winter storm or a blizzard the night before. In fact my sister-in-law lives on the same road, made it home the night before without any problem.”
While being able to get to the mainland is important to fill up on supplies, the canceled trips also caused many of the islanders to miss important appointments.
“One person needed staples out from a back surgery. Two or three people needed to get to work,” said Miller. “They couldn’t get to work. So the medical appointments are probably the most alarming besides the loss of income from the people that work on the island.”
The ferry captain was unavailable for comment and the Eastern U.P. Transportation Authority moved to closed session on Tuesday to talk about the legal matters surrounding their contract with him.
While no decision has been made, a member of the board says they are aggressively discussing how to handle things moving forward.
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