Recycling Service Plan Is On the Way of Renewal

– Mandi Fu, DeWitt and Bath reporter

Clinton County Board of Commissioners had a finance personal meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at the courthouse in St. Johns, Michigan. One issue they focused on was renewing the Clinton County Recycling Services Plan, especially for rural areas. Kate Neese, Waste Management Coordinator of Clinton County, gave a presentation about their plans during the meeting.

Kate Neese

(Kate Neese, Waste Management Coordinator of Clinton County — photo taken by Mandi Fu)

According to the program proposal, the State of Michigan has enacted Act No. 138 of the Public Acts of 1989, which directs the county to approve a service plan each year. For this year, department of waste management is working on adding more waste management locations.

“It’s kind of a boiler play agreement on the county, my office and the participating municipality for 2 drop-off locations…for rural areas that haulers don’t even offer it (recycling services),” Neese said. She also mentioned benefits that will be brought to the local community, such as extending landfill’s life and creating job opportunities.

However, there is a budget problem behind this plan for local people.

“In rural recycling…first of all, (you) should have locations where people who live at rural districts can take recycles to…Some rural areas don’t have enough funds to help pay for it (drop-off stations),” said by Robert Showers, Chairman of Clinton County Commissioner.

“Our current plan at county is to do analysis of all the cost to have a person that make sure the area is clean…And what cost are related to that and come back with the plan is what that total bill would be,” he said.

The board of commissioners has had an agreement on the renewal plan and is going to meet on Oct. 28 to focus on fund problems for rural areas in Clinton County. Showers said that they are going to vote whether or not to help with the problem on next meeting.

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As November approaches, Dewitt’s Mayoral Election Heats Up

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On Nov. 4, residents of Dewitt will have the choice to either keep or replace their Mayor of eight years.

Julie DeRose hopes they choose a replacement, as she is stepping up to the plate against the incumbent Jim Rundborg. DeRose is a longtime resident of Dewitt, and has degrees from Ferris State and Western Michigan Universities. She is also co-owner of Smith and DeRose Insurance and serves on the Education Commission at St. Jude Catholic Church in Dewitt. Julie says she is running because in the past few elections, the mayor has run unopposed, and Julie believes she is the legitimate candidate to give him a challenge.

Julie DeRose hopes they choose a replacement, as she is stepping up to the plate against the incumbent Jim Rundborg. DeRose is a longtime resident of Dewitt, and has degrees from Ferris State and Western Michigan Universities. She is also co-owner of Smith and DeRose Insurance and serves on the Education Commission at St. Jude Catholic Church in Dewitt. Julie says she is running because in the past few elections, the mayor has run unopposed, and Julie believes she is the legitimate candidate to give him a challenge.

“For the last four years, we who pay a lot of taxes in Dewitt have been led by a city council that has been part of a very closed group for a long, long time, led by the mayor who was unopposed,” said DeRose. “That leads to complacency, it leads to a lack of accountability.”

Rundborg has also been a longtime resident of Dewitt, calling the city his home since 1987. He currently works for Central Michigan University and has over 40 years of experience in the education field. He is a member of the DeWitt Downtown Authority Board, DeWitt Memorial Board and the Ox Roast committee. Rundborg became a member of the Dewitt City Council in 2001 and was elected mayor pro-tem in 2004.

“During my tenure as Mayor we have made great strides in revitalizing our downtown, improving our City Parks, and continuing to offer services that benefit our residents,” said Rundborg. “I would like to continue to bring businesses to our downtown, maintain and improve the services we have come to expect from our Department of Public Works and keep our financial situation stable into the future.”

Among other things, Rundborg believes the key reason why he is the best candidate for the position is his experience.

“Experience, strong leadership, ability to build collaborate relationships with DeWitt Township and DeWitt Public Schools and being fiscally responsible over time makes me the best candidate,” said Rundborg.  “My opponent has never been to a City Council Meeting or participated in any area of our City Government.  We need a leader not a learner as the Mayor of DeWitt.”

DeRose is using Rundborg’s experience against him, claiming that the current leadership has been a closed group for too long, in which there is no accountability being held,

“I think questions need to be asked,” said DeRose. “The tipping point of all of it was when I discovered that they, the city, used our tax dollars to buy a church. And I have a real problem with governments getting in the real estate business and basically dictating local economies, and molding them the way they want them to be.”

Despite her lack of experience in the city government, DeRose feels she has plenty of outside experience to excel at the position of Mayor.

“I have worked for state government, I have managed very large budgets, millions of dollars in grants, I have written grants, received them, so I think that is a skill or talent that could be used well in the city.”

If re-elected, Mayor Rundborg says he has plans to continue to improve Dewitt’s bridges and roads, and feels one of the biggest issues facing Dewitt right now involves improving the downtown.

“Finding quality businesses to fill the three empty buildings in our downtown that our residents will support,” said Rundborg.  “Look for new ways to work with others to bring businesses to our area and to lower costs of things that we all do, but could do better together.”

DeRose also said she feels strongly about improving downtown. If elected, DeRose feels the most important issue and the first thing she would do is evaluate the city spending.

“That would be one of my first priorities… to review the spending, review our long term plan for the city, see where we are at with that plan, and see if that plan should be tweaked,” said DeRose.

The elected position of Mayor in the City of Dewitt is a two-year term. The mayor has many responsibilities. He/she serves as Chief Executive Officer of the City and is the official head of the City for ceremonial purposes. They are responsible for directing and supervising the administrative officers, except the City Attorney. The Mayor also presides at all Council meetings and has veto power in the instance of a tie of the City Council.

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Michigan is Fighting for LGBT Protection

By Yuehan Liu

Bath-DeWitt Reporter

As 32 states recognize gay marriage in America, people nowadays pay more attention to the LGBT rights. In Michigan, one of all the important issues shows up for the upcoming election, in both the Democratic and Republican parties, which is adding LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, was written and passed in 1976, the main goal of the act is to protect people’s human rights and to make employers treat people equally, no matter their religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status.

Currently in the State of Michigan, it’s legal to fire someone or refuse housing just because of his/her sexuality or gender identity. And for this upcoming election, both Democrats and Republicans think it is very important to add LGBT to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Equality Michigan estimates that at least 287,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults live in Michigan. (https://www.equalitymi.org/files/uploads/how_many_lgbt_people_live_in_michigan.pdf) For this large amount of people, giving them equal rights and protecting them from discrimination is an important issue.

“Because my friends, my family that are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, they just want to be able to raise families, they just want to be able to live happily, if you just talk to them you will see that they don’t want anything big or crazy, they just want to be treat equally”, said Josh Derke, member of Clinton County Democratic Party, who is running for State Representative of Michigan’s 93rd House District.

1.pic_hd-2For the Republican side, although they did not promote it as hard as Democrats, there are still in favor of LGBT protection.

Derke also mentioned that the fight for LGBT protection can also help Michigan’s economy.

“I think it is very important because at the state level, they are talking about laws that would affect them, and a study recently shows that if we do protect gays and lesbians and bisexual and trans people, we can bring up to 53 million dollars economy activities state”, Derke said.

“My best friend is gay, he is very kind and he works hard, I think he deserve to have protection and not to lost a job just because of the fact the he is gay”, said Anna Epkey, a citizen in the city of DeWitt.

Dr. Nettie Walker Wood, the Corresponding Secretary of the Clinton County Democratic party is also a faithful Christian and plays the piano for her church. Wood mentioned that there are conflicts about same-sex marriage because the United States has a lot of Christians, and the ideas of the country are based on the bible, but the LGBT protection is about human rights.

“This is the country that believes in helping people in this country become strong”, Wood said.

The issue about LGBT protection is about treating people equally with job opportunities.

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Teenagers’ Drinking and Drug Use Continues to be a Persistent Problem

– Mandi Fu, DeWitt and Bath reporter

The underage drinking and drug use has been a concern for parents in DeWitt and Bath areas. According to a Clinton County Alcohol and Drugs report  (2011-2012) on the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth website, the average age of first alcohol use is 13.6 years old and 25.8  percentage of them have been drunk before. As for drugs use, the average age of first marijuana use is 13.9 years old while only 22 percent of the reported students never tried marijuana for their lifetime. Moreover, 67.5 percent of the students think is easy or very easy to get alcohol and 42.8 percent think it’s easy to get marijuana.

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(Steve Crowley, counselor of DeWitt High School – photo by Mandi Fu)

As for this assignable problem among the youths, Steve Crowley, counselor of DeWitt High School, said that the main factors for high school students to use alcohol or drugs are: pressures from home or from school performance. He also talked about society influences on students: “…As they leave, they are introduced to more people that do drink or that do take prescription drugs or drugs themselves. And I think…having that freedom with nobody looking over their shoulder… and then not knowing whether necessarily or not, genetically they might become addicted…”

Lieutenant Spagnuolo, City of DeWitt Police Department officer, mentioned another key point for teenager’s dinking and drugs use, which is the social media: “…It’s (social media) increasing the response. Instead of just telling a friend and telling a friend, you can post your party (photos)…then people are just starting to show off… it’s (drinking and drug information) not limit to just the local area…”

Both of them suggested using parental guardians and school programs to prevent or decrease the risk of getting addicted. Officer Spagnuolo said schools and parents should have stronger analysts and hold teenagers accountable. Crowley mentioned about Health classes in DeWitt High School are working on teaching the refusal skills toward underage drinking/drugs use. The school has series of drug information meetings for parents and students as well.

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(Aaron S. Jenkins, communication specialist of Cristo Rey Community Center – photo by Mandi Fu)

Aaron S. Jenkins, communication specialist of a drug rehab and alcohol treatment facility called “Cristo Rey Community Center”, gave advices for addicted young people and their guardians: “You wanna try to find something that they can do as positive…and it starts with having positive role models… do something that’s enlighten…running and do some sports, something that’s challenging for them”.

Also, all of them suggested that corporations with the youths and education on drinking and drugs are necessary for guardians to work on.

 

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City of Dewitt Prepares for Bridge Repairs

Two bridges, one at Schavey Road and the other at Bridge Street, are in need of some substantial repairs in the next 10 years, and the Dewitt City Council is making sure they have the financial means to make these repairs happen.  In order to insure that the funds for these projects are readily available, the City Council created the “Bridge Repair Fund”, which set aside $120,000 to be used on the bridges,

“The fund is designed to set aside money each year so we do not have to come up with the funding all at one time, issue a large amount of debt or raise taxes to pay for the repairs,” said Dewitt City Administrator Daniel Coss.

The repairs needed for the bridges are very expensive, and the fund is expected to grow over time.

“We are anticipating to be able to add 60K toward each bridge each year,” said Coss. “We have two bridges that will require approximately 1.5 million in repairs in the next 10-15 years.”

In order to help cover the costs, the city is also looking for other help.

“In addition to the bridge fund the City will look for grant opportunities as the repairs get closer to help cover the costs,” said Coss.

The repairs that the bridges require include new bridge decks and significant repairs to the super structure.  By planning ahead of time, the city council believes it will be able to avoid burdening future councils with necessary repair costs, and will avoid having to raise taxes.

“Taxes are not being raised, the money comes from street funds that the city gets from the State of Michigan and from the general fund,” said Coss.  “One of the reasons we started the fund was so the City would not have to issue debt to make the necessary repairs.”

By starting early and adding more funds yearly, along with the possible money from the state, the city is thinking in terms of the future and hoping that this fund will solve any problems that may arise with repairs in the future.

 

 

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DeWitt is Getting Ready for You to Vote

By Yuehan Liu

Bath-DeWitt Reporter

As the time passes, November is coming and the 2014 election is on the way to the stage. Election is always an important but complicated thing for both voters and the government. To the voters, understanding how to vote and who they should vote for is an important decision to be done. And for the government, the whole progress of the campaign also has a lot of details that needs to take care of. By the information from October 2nd the Clinton County Democratic party’s meeting, which holds at the DeWitt City Hall, we know that the government is getting ready for you to vote.

“The most important thing that happens for today’s meeting is we can see the progress we are making, especially making sure that our candidates are running, making sure democracy is getting support”, Dr. Nettie Walker Wood, who is the corresponding secretary in the Clinton Democratic party, said.

16.picAs the DeWitt County Clerk and Recorder’s statistic, there are 12,070 voters (http://il.dewitt.accessliberty.com), in the city of DeWitt this year for the election. How can the government make sure that they let these voters have enough information to vote and collect their votes accurately?

Member of the Clinton Democracy Party Judy Hood indicated that they are doing the pre-election work for a long time. They spread out the news by social media, email, and paper works.

“The primary concern is contact”, Hood said.

18.pic“people would be divided into small areas, and members would take charge of different areas, we have their contact information, and we also will go talk to them door by door”, Hood said.

As a candidate for the state representative, Josh Derke was busy running for the campaign for a long time. “I have thousand works to do everyday”, Derke said.

In the meeting Derke reports what he was doing for last month, by his report it shows how candidates are trying to let voters know more information before the election.

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Voter’s Ideas Before the Election

– Mandi Fu

Bath and DeWitt reporter

Time is moving closer to election on Nov. 4, some residents from DeWitt and Bath are starting to prepare for the issues and parties.

Many residents said they are going to vote for the up-coming election. According to data on Clinton County’s website, the turn out of election for DeWitt and Bath area is ranged from 10 percent to 26 percent for the passed August. Judy Hood, 78, has been a Democrats for more than 50 years: “Oh I always vote…since I was able to vote”.  Steve Willis, 69, the chairman of Clinton county Republican Party, also said that he would vote for the election. “We are actually walk for candidates, and probably make phone calls for candidates…I’m actually distribution point for yard signs”, said by Willis about his pre-election preparation.  And Cathryn Giunta, a co-funder and a managing partner, also said that she would vote on this election. But she does not have a strong tendency.

When asking people who have a strong tendency about the reason of supporting one specific party or against another one, they express different ideas. Hood said that she support Democratic Party because she thinks they really care about people while Republican Party only cares about money: “They (Democrats) just think everybody should have rights, and it seems to me that the Republicans only care about the rich and the upper classes of the country”. While Tim Fair, 52, a technological business owner and a  Republican, said that Democratic Party support bigger government: “…and they want the governments to run for individuals’ rights. That’s what they want.”

According to the data from 2010 on “Census Viewer”, rates of supporters for Republican Party in Bath area is 19.61 percent while for Democratic Party is 6.31 percent. And in DeWitt area, the difference is even bigger: 26.17 percent for Republicans and 5. 47 percent for Democrats.

Robert Showers

Robert Showers, the Clinton County Commissioner, explained reason behind the gap between supporters of Democrats and those of Republicans. He said because there are a lot of farmers who live in DeWitt and Bath area, ideas of them tend to be more conservative, which fit with the main statement of Republican Party, than liberal, which stands for Democrats.

 

 

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