MENOMINEE - A surprise announcement at Monday night's Menominee City Council meeting will have an impact on the future makeup of the governing body. First Ward Council Member Mark Jasper informed the mayor and council that he will not be able to fulfill his obligations if elected in November. Jasper delivered a brief statement just before the conclusion of the meeting offering an explanation for his decision.

"I did not come to this conclusion lightly but an opportunity came my way to purchase a home out of the city," he said. "I wasn't looking, or thought this was even an option when I turned in my nomination papers. But when I was presented with the opportunity I had to do what was best for my family. Knowing that, made my decision easier."

Jasper said he would serve out his term until Dec. 31 and apologized for whatever inconvenience his decision would cause. City Attorney Rob Jamo will research the charter to determine whether a special election will need to be held or if the mayor would make an appointment with council approval. A similar situation took place in 2010 when Ward 4 Council Member Todd Schloegel stepped down and Frank Pohlmann was appointed and later sought election.

Jasper and Hugh Vary were not opposed in Ward 1, the only contested scheduled for November is in Ward 3 between Ray Williams and Josh Jones.

Earlier in the evening, the council unanimously approved a recommendation from the Special Projects/Community Relations Committee to adopt a resolution to file an application with the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority for planning grant funds for the lighthouse. The total estimated cost for the grant is $35,000, of which the city's share would be $12,500.

Mayor Jean Stegeman informed the council that the lighthouse mysteriously received a fresh coat of paint last week, she speculated the work may have been performed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Stegeman was quick to point out that a lot more work still needs to be done on the iconic structure. Council Member Leon Felch questioned whether there was any lead paint on the lighthouse. Stegeman replied that she has seen historic documents addressing that issue.

"There is no lead on the tower," she said. "What lead paint exists is on the white base and that's been covered over so many times it is now what they consider to be under intermediate containment."

Council Member Pohlmann said there needs to be a vision for what the lighthouse will be used for in the future and posed a list of questions.

"What is the ultimate use for it? Is it like a museum? Is it open for tours? Is it just there? What do we do with it?" He asked.

Stegeman said in order for the city to be in compliance with the deed to the lighthouse it needs to see that the facility is used as an educational tool. She also mentioned that the city would team up with the Menominee County Historical Society to oversee its operation. A statement affirmed by Lou Ann Borski, president of the historical society.

"At the time of possession, the requirements were that was to be open as a learning center and for tours," she said. "As stated, the society will work with the city whichever way we can and I applaud the Menominee Women's Club with taking on the fundraiser in conjunction with the historical society."