Bath Township assisting in statewide road improvement efforts

By Patrick Gifford

The Bath-DeWitt Connection staff writer

BATH – As the state grapples with how to fix its crumbling roads, Bath Township has budgeted some short-term pothole relief.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced a $54-billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Feb. 11 that included $113 million in general fund spending for roads and bridges in Michigan. There is also an upcoming May ballot initiative for an additional $1.2 billion annually that would go toward the state’s worsening motor pathways.

In its most recent available annual report, the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council indicated that that “at current investment levels, the condition of both roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate.” The report also showed that 33% of Michigan’s federal-aid eligible roads are in “poor” condition.

Meanwhile, Bath Township’s budget approved last November projected $275,000 would be spent on area roads over the next year. Approximately $206,300 allocated to paved roads, $45,00 to dust control, $13,500 to a road crack filling program called “overband,” $7,200 to gravel roads and $3,000 to brush spraying.

The ultimate control for roads in Michigan goes to the counties rather than townships. Therefore, roads in Bath Township are largely dealt with by Clinton County. The Clinton County Road Commission spent $12 million last year.

“The roads are a problem for just about every community,” said Bath Township Supervisor Paula Clark. “We take it very seriously here.”

Bath Township and the Clinton County Road Commission stay in frequent contact to discuss motor pathway issues.

“We go on rides with the road commission and help them try to prioritize what needs to be done in our township,” Clark said.

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Bath Township Superintendent Dan Wietecha believes that the additional $275,000 will help supplement what Clinton County is already doing.

“(The additional money) will help maintain roads which are in fair condition so they don’t deteriorate,” Wietecha said. “Overall we hope to increase the township’s average road rating.”

Bath resident Logan Griffith hopes to see improvements in the roads soon.

“It is definitely a problem everywhere, but we feel it here in Bath,” Griffith said. “These potholes are taking a toll on my car.”

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Excitement surrounds upcoming 4th annual DeWitt Community Showcase

By Connor Ryan

The Bath-DeWitt Connection staff writer

DEWITT—Though the fourth annual DeWitt Community Showcase is still about two months away, many of the people involved are already getting excited.

The event is a collaborative effort designed to bring the community together. DeWitt Public Schools, the City of DeWitt and the DeWitt Chamber of Commerce produce the showcase as an opportunity for local and surrounding businesses to make their presence known, as well as a chance for DeWitt students to display their talents and be recognized for academic excellence.

Schavey Road Elementary art teacher Bob Jaruzel is looking forward to another exciting and personally satisfying experience.

“It is nice to see so many elements from our school and community coming together in a fun and festive atmosphere,” he said. “I always appreciate any opportunity to celebrate and encourage the creative efforts of my students.”

Ricky Wright, executive director of the Mystic Lake YMCA Camp, can’t wait for the organization to return to the showcase for the fourth consecutive year.

“It’s a way for us to make folks aware of the different programs we offer and just simply a way for us to connect with the community,” Wright said.

Ten sponsors are funding the 2015 DeWitt Community Showcase – some repeat contributors and some first-timers.

Kathy Valentine, owner of The Plant Professionals in Lansing, said the business has participated in the event all four years, but this will be its first year co-sponsoring it. Valentine, also a DeWitt Chamber of Commerce board member, says she is happy to contribute this year.

“I’ve seen the benefit of this showcase for the community and I just really felt that it was a worthwhile event for us to get more involved with,” she said.

Behind the scenes, event coordinator Beth Webb has been working with a well-rounded committee consisting of school administrators, DeWitt municipal members and several other community activists to sort out all of the details for what she expects will be another great turnout.

“We have such a crowd. We have two-thousand or more people that come through, it’s like, overwhelming,” Webb said. “I had no idea when we first did it, I looked around and it was like, wow, that’s a lot of people.”

Webb says the committee has been meeting once a month and will meet twice in March to finalize everything for the mid-April event. In the meantime, she has been scrambling to schedule floor space for the abundance of business applications already received.

Seventy-one of 176 spaces in the DeWitt High School gymnasium have already been allocated for businesses and organizations to set-up, Webb said. There is no selling at the event but participants will be able to exhibit and promote their products and services. Webb says she expects the remaining vacancies to fill up quickly as the showcase approaches.

The DeWitt Community Showcase will also feature a variety of foods from local eateries. It is free to the public and will be held at DeWitt High School from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16.

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City Council Oks Road Blockades for Dewitt Christmas Market

At it’s recent meeting on Nov 12, the Dewitt City Council allowed for 15 road blockades on Saturday, December 6 for the annual DDA Christmas Market. The event features numerous family events starting at 2 p.m., all the way until the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m..

The event features two heated tents, many local crafters and vendors, music, and other events. The Bridge Street Hair Company we also be present for their Whoville Hair Salon, where they will give families hairdos resembling those from the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Christmas Market is relatively new, beginning within the last ten years. DDA Coordinator Linda Kahler is in charge of the event.

“The DDA used to be run by volunteers… since it was turned over to paid positions, we’ve seen more growth and popularity.” Kahler said.  “The events are just growing as were able to run those events more effectively.”

Kahler is also behind the Dewitt Farmers Market, which has been a huge success throughout the summer in Downtown Dewitt.

A few of the biggest events at the Christmas Market also help give back to the community. After 5 p.m., there will be two main races. One is for children, called the Reindeer Run, and the Santa Run is for adults. Both races cost $10 to join, and take place throughout the streets of downtown, where kids run dressed as Reindeer and adults run dressed as Santa. Both of these races help benefit local food banks. One of those food banks is located right inside St. Jude Catholic Church.

“Last year was the first year they had the Santa run,” Tina Simon of the St. Jude Food Pantry said.

St. Jude is one of the larger food pantries in the area, and mainly helps those within the Dewitt community during their time of need. Last years Santa Run donated about $4,500 to local food banks.

“Dewitt is a vibrant nice community.. they tend to be very giving,” Simon said.

Families are only allowed to visit the food pantry once a month. The food pantry usually helps around seven per week during the summer, but the holidays see an increase in that number.

“In colder weather, we have a tendency to help more families.. We typically give out a dozen sets of food each week,” Simon said.

After the race, there is a Light Parade open to any local business that wishes to have some sort of float. The only stipulation is it must have lights, because the parade leads directly into the annual tree lighting ceremony.

Now that the road blockades passed through City Council, the DDA is able to use the streets throughout Downtown Dewitt to host the event.

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The Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum

– By Mandi Fu

DeWitt and Bath Reporter

Michigan’s Mid-term election was held on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Two polling locations, DeWitt City Hall and DeWitt Fire Station, were set up in DeWitt Township and welcomed local voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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According to election information on Clinton County’s official website, one of the two state proposals is “Proposal 14-1”, also called the “Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum”, which would allow for establishing wolf hunting seasons and designating the wolf as a game animal.

The wolf-hunting proposal raised various ideas among voters. Local resident Barlowe Muller said that he supports this proposal stating.

“I think they need to control (wolves)…a lot of farmers here have livestock and wolves do damage (toward them)…people are gonna have a license, a tag to do it,” Muller said.

Jen Rigterink, works for a local agency, also supported for wolf-hunting.

“For overpopulation and killing of livestock…they (wolves) seems to be a larger population and then there is a food supply…To me it’s natural to have them hunted…” Rigterink said.

On the other side, there was a ballot question committee called “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected”, which is composed from a wide variety of people interested in protecting wolves. With “Vote No On Proposal 1&2” signs raised at some popular polling locations, they asked for passed-by voters to consider voting “No” on both proposals.

Jill Fritz, director of the “Keep Michigan Wolves Protected” campaign, explained the reason behind: “It’s extremely important because Michigan’s wolves and wolves all over the United States are still just beginning to recover from being almost completely wiped out, there’s no justification to have a hunting season on them…”

Fritz also mentioned 2 laws (PA 290 and PA 318) that already assist farmers and dog owners: “…And there are already other measures to let farmers protect their livestock, and homeowners or dog owners protect their dogs from wolves that don’t involve having a hunting season…In addition, if a wolf kills farmer’s cow or sheep, farmers received full market compensation for the value of that animal and they can get a permit from the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) to kill any other wolves on their property, even if they are not actually attacking their animals.”

According to DNR’s wolf management information in Michigan, there were 687 wolves in Michigan in 2012 and it’s still showing a decline tendency. But comparing to endangered time of wolves in Michigan in 1989, which shows almost 0 wolves, it’s already a big increase. It also shows that laws PA 290 and PA 318 do allow farmers as well as dog owners to protect their livestock and dogs from wolves.

Until this Thursday, Nov. 6, Clinton County’s unofficial result shows that among 29,319 turnout voters, 14,306 people, which is about 48.8 percent, voted “Yes” for the Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum.

Diane Mosier, DeWitt Township Clerk, mentioned that there were also some unregistered voters voted on Tuesday, which resulted in mistakes when calculating the results. Mosier said that they are going to balance them and obtain certifications from Clinton County as well as from the State of Michigan.

 

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Postmaster General Plans to Change the Service Standard in DeWitt

–Yuehan Liu, DeWitt and Bath reporter

At every government meeting, there is a public comment time and citizens are allowed to speak about things that they want the government to catch up. On October 28, during DeWitt’s City Council meeting, John Greathouse brought up a fact that the PMG (postmaster general) might change the service standards after January 5, 2015.

By changing the service, what PMG is proposing to do is to close over 100 mails processing facilities nationwide, eliminating overnight mail service standards.

“Each step of the mail process can take multiple days, moving mail to and from an out-of-town processing facility can now take 1-2 days each way,” The APWU (American Postal Workers Union) said.

“The law says the PMG is mandated to serve everyone with prompt, reliable, and efficient service no matter where they live (city or rural) and regardless of income (rich or poor). In other words, all households are to receive equal service,” John Greathouse said.

Amy Gordon, citizen in the city of DeWitt for over 10 years, feels very inconvenienced by PMG changing the service standard.

“We need faster postal service, I mean, I do a lot of online shopping, and I don’t want anything late because of the postal service.”

John Greathouse said that congressional members must act before December 20, 2014, or it will be too late.

After the meeting, mayor of DeWitt Jim Rundborg said that “It’s the first time I heard of it tonight, and I haven’t really register that, but first, we’d like to keep them well going if we could, I think the council will take a look at it, maybe we will do some next time, maybe not.”

Jim Rundborg also mentioned that: “We will support our poster service of course, and personally I use quite a bit, but it’s a business and government have to work on that, and sometimes all decisions get make, and even if we send a resolution, who knows what would happen with it, but we will see what happens.”

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Jim Rundborg Wins Reelection as Mayor

While the focus throughout the State of Michigan remained on the Governor race between Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer, many local municipalities such as Dewitt had their own local elections. One of the big races was for Mayor of Dewitt was between Jim Rundborg and Julie DeRose.

 

Julie DeRose decided to run against the incumbent Jim Rundborg for many reasons, one of them being she felt that he needed a fair fight. Rundborg has been in office for more than one term and has virtually been running unopposed.

 

“Somebody ran against him I think about four years ago but it wasn’t really an even race by any stretch,” said DeRose.

 

After the votes were tallied, Rundborg won resoundingly with 1197 votes to 669 votes. Despite running almost unopposed in the past, Rundborg proved that he could win the votes of the residents of Dewitt and hopes to continue the work he already has planned for the city.

 

“We are… planning for financial events that would impact future budgets.  Bridge work and retirement costs are just a few of those items,” said Rundborg.  “Keeping DeWitt a great place to raise a family in a small town is important to me.”

 

Another very important project is increasing the development of downtown Dewitt, which currently has three vacant buildings that the city is looking to fill.

 

“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,” said Rundborg.

 

With reelection, Rundborg secures his position as mayor for at least two more years.

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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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