Armed Guards to Return to Mine Site Near Mellen

By KBJR News 1

August 6, 2013 Updated Aug 6, 2013 at 11:54 PM CDT

Mellen, WI (NNCNOW.com) --Gogebic Taconite officials confirmed Bulletproof Securities, the firm G-Tac was using to protect the proposed Iron Ore Mine site near Mellen Wisconsin, acquired the proper permitting on Monday.

Bob Seitz, Director of External Affairs for G-Tac, said the guards will return to the site, but was unable to say exactly when.

Seitz also said the company has been using other security firms from Wisconsin and off duty law enforcement to keep the site safe for workers.

After an incident in June when one G-Tac worker was accosted by a protester, the company hired Bulletproof Securities to keep the mine site safe.

"These people that came in, they have specialized talents. They can go in the woods and they can find the secret camps and they can safely handle those situations, and other people just are not trained to do that," said Seitz.

The security company was first seen at the site in early July but they did not have the proper permitting to operate in the state of Wisconsin.

The return of the guards has some people concerned.

"I think this is ridiculous, I think it's a ploy, I think they want attention, There is no need for armed guards a mile from my home," said Monica Vitek, Owner and operator of O'Dovero Farm.

The farm which she runs with her family has been there for five generations and is located on highway 77 just one mile from the proposed mine site.

Among other things Vitek and her family are worried about are the environmental impacts a mine could have on the farm.

"My concerns are the water, because if they go 1,000 feet deep, they are going to dry my well up. I'm concerned about the air because when they start blasting and the asbestos and all of this, it's not healthy to breath for myself, or my family or my animals," said Vitek.

Meanwhile, people at the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Camp are not thrilled about the guards coming back, but say they will tolerate them.

"We are not going to let them bother us, if they want to be there let them be there," said Camp Organizer Mel Gasper.

At this point there have been no confirmed sightings of the guards, but it may only be a matter of time.

"We know where the bulk sampling is, and we are waiting for them to show up there and we are going to try and make friends with them like we did before," said John Schneider, occupant at the camp.

Others question the legality of the guards even coming back to the state.

"They did not have a permit to operate in Wisconsin and then whoever it was in Madison issued them a permit; and what they did without having a permit and working here was a class two felony or something like that, and they never got prosecuted for nothing," said Pete Russo, Ashland County Board Chair.

Another concern people have is the up and coming hunting season. Much of the land is managed forest crop which means anyone can come and use the land to hunt.

"When deer season approaches, there is going to be a lot of people hunting up there with high powered rifles, and we have armed guards up there that are locked and loaded ready to fire on people with rifles, but we are hunting. This is managed forest crop land, it's public land," said Nick Vanderpuy.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.