“Weapon-free School Zone” exists around DeWitt Public Schools

by Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — At a time in American society when gun violence has become familiar news and mass shootings dominate the media circuit, many communities across the United States have changed their gun safety policies to better respond to a possible threat. In DeWitt, it’s mean no guns in schools. In the Administrative Guidelines for DeWitt Public Schools, it is stated that “The Board of Education prohibits professional staff members from possessing, storing, making, or using a weapon in any setting that is under the control and supervision of the District for the purpose of school activities approved and authorized by the District.”

Adopted by the Board in February, this policy provides just a few exceptions for this ban, including weapons under the control of law enforcement. Bruce Ferguson, police chief for the City of DeWitt, sees a need for these gun-free zones. Even more so, Ferguson sees a need for preventative measures and education to stop violence before it starts.

DeWitt has been improving its community thanks to the Master Plan

By Holly Osmer
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — The City of DeWitt, with its local businesses, pleasant parks, and quality schools, has seen a large increase in the amount of residential growth in the past 10 to 15 years, and their economy is expected to continue growing, despite Michigan’s overall slowed pace. According to the “City of DeWitt Master Plan The Big Picture DeWitt 2010 to 2020,” this growth pressure is expected to continue to impact DeWitt, the DeWitt School District and other public services during the life of this Master Plan and beyond. “The Master Plan is a document that depicts how the city would like the land to be used and developed over the course of time covered,” said DeWitt City Administrator Dan Coss. “The Planning Commission and City Council worked on the Master Plan for approximately 12 months and then by State Statute it is reviewed every five years,” said Coss. “The time it takes [to finish a Master Plan] really depends on if there are any amendments to the plan, typically 6-12 months.”

Since its creation, there are several aspects of DeWitt that have been either added or improved.

DeWitt is still not very diverse, but working on it

By Zachary Manning
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — The City of DeWitt has a clear lack of diversity and residents, city officials, school officials, and police have mixed reviews on why. According to the 2010 census, about 95 percent of DeWitt’s population is white, 1.4 percent is black, 0.9 percent is Asian, and 0.4 percent is American Indian. DeWitt’s white population is above the national average of 72.4 percent. DeWitt’s black population is below the national average of 12.6 percent. The Asian population in DeWitt is below the national average of 4.8 percent.

In the city of DeWitt, crime is on vacation, but not the cops

By Brendan Wilner
The Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — In the city of DeWitt, everyone is working together to continue their low crime rates. The small population of DeWitt has allowed both city officials and the police department to not have to worry about the crime rate. The city had 80 total arrests for both 2014 and 2015, according to City Administrator Dan Coss. “We have a very proactive police department and our officers are very visible in the community. We have a 24/7 department,” said Coss.

Potholes aplenty at DeWitt Public Schools’ parking lots and access roads

By Holly Osmer
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — DeWitt has a growing community, and part of that is due to their quality schools. When it comes to public schools, quality does not just entail the standard of education. The status of school facilities is just as important. DeWitt Public Schools’ Schavey Road Elementary School, Herbison Woods School, Dewitt  Junior High, and DeWitt High School all share parking lots as well as roadways for access. While everything is generally well-maintained, some of DeWitt Public Schools’ parking lots have developed a few areas of cracks and pot holes.

Bath Community Schools looking into Safe Routes to School program to spur youth exercise

By Zachary Manning
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

BATH — Bath Community Schools are looking into implementing a Safe Routes to School (SR2S) program to encourage students to exercise more. According to the SR2S website, the three purposes of the program are to enable and encourage children in grades K-8 to walk and bike to school, to make walking and biking to school safer and more appealing, and to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety. “Bath Community Schools supports a number of fitness programs encouraging students to exercise and participate in healthy activities. Safe Routes to School is another program that promotes student health and supports students walking and biking to school,” said Nancy Hawkins, Bath Community Schools board secretary. “It is great to see that the Bath community also supports the program.

DeWitt has a plan to continue to grow … A Master Plan, that is

By Holly Osmer
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — In 2005, The City of DeWitt was recognized by CNN and Money Magazine’s as the 75th place on their “Best Places to Live 2005” of 100 finalists. It was just one of four Michigan cities recognized. This was just one of many positive aspects recognized by DeWitt’s Master Plan. The City of DeWitt Planning Commission officially approved the “City of DeWitt Master Plan, The Big Picture: DeWitt 2010 to 2020,” on September 23, 2010. This documents includes all maps, descriptive narrative and future land use recommendations therein for DeWitt.

Improvements to Bath Township Senior Center intended to keep up with growth of senior population and needs

By Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

BATH — The growing number of seniors in Bath and surrounding areas benefiting from the Bath Township Senior Center can now enjoy an improved facility, as well as look forward to future expansions. Thanks to a number of recent upgrades and with plenty more to come, the center will be able to make it even easier for area seniors to come together and meet, take part in a healthy, low-cost meal, and even have a little fun. The proposed improvements and expansions are crucial in order for the senior center to properly meet the needs of a rising senior population. “We’re rather busting at the seams here,” said Program Coordinator Nancy Hoyland.”We’ve expanded our kitchen so we can do much more here, but we need to expand our facility.” January 2016 marked the completion of the senior center’s facility remodel, along with a major expansion of the kitchen facility.

Daddy-Daughter Dance is now the Cupid’s Shuffle in Bath School District

By Brendan Wilner
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

BATH — In Bath Township, there is a new dance name that was changed and it is something that the school district should be proud of. There was a Daddy-Daughter Dance that was changed to Cupid’s Shuffle. The dance was sponsored by the Bath High School Student Council and was for Elementary and Middle School students. The superintendent of the Bath School District, Jake Huffman, said that it is a minor name change that fits the purpose of the dance. Huffman had the idea was suggested to him, the school principals, and the high school advisors.

Positive news: negative test results from water quality testing at Bath schools

By Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

BATH — As the Flint water crisis continues to harm and inconvenience the lives of residents by the thousands, Michigan residents outside of Flint are expressing concern for the quality of their own community’s water supply. The results of recent testing done at Bath Community Schools, however, can reassure Bath parents that their children have access to safe drinking water at school. “The DEQ stated that our water is in great shape,” said Superintendent Jake Huffman. “Testing the water in any venue is important. People need to be sure and feel confident that the water they’re using is safe,” said Terry Gibb, Senior MSU Extension Educator in Natural Resources and Government & Public Policy.