Senate panel moves bill to rename portion of M-35 as Ben Lauren and Don Riling Memorial Highway

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Ed McBroom that would rename a portion of M-35 in Forsyth Township as the Ben Lauren and Don Riling Memorial Highway.

McBroom was joined at the committee in support of the bill by state Rep. Sara Cambensy, and by Marquette County Commissioner Bill Nordeen and Forsyth Township Supervisor Joe Boogren, who testified remotely.

“Ben Lauren and Don Riling were fearless public servants who lost their lives while helping to save others,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “While there is nothing we can do to repay their sacrifice, designating the Ben Lauren and Don Riling Memorial Highway along M-35 will help honor their memory and ensure future generations are reminded of their selfless bravery. I thank everyone from Forsyth Township for their encouragement in getting this bill introduced and I am hopeful it will become law soon.”

Forsyth Township Fire Department Captain Benjamin Lauren, 23, of Gwinn, died in the line of duty while fighting a structure fire on March 13.

Don Riling was a professional firefighter with the U.S. Air Force and volunteer firefighter with the Forsyth Township Fire Department who died while fighting a house fire in the township on March 19, 1988.

“The idea for a highway memorial came from the heart of Forsyth Township — from the friends and firefighters who served with Ben Lauren, to Township Supervisor Joe Boogren, and Marquette County Commissioner Bill Nordeen, who also wanted to honor fallen firefighter Don Riling,” said state Rep. Sara Cambensy. “This is the spirit of the greater Gwinn community coming together and honoring their commitment to never forget their hometown heroes who stepped up to serve. The Forsyth Fire Department has been through so much. I’m humbled to be able to help get this done for them in Lansing alongside Sen. McBroom.”

Senate Bill 921 now advances to the full Senate for its consideration.

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