Expanding modes of transportation in DeWitt Township

The City of Dewitt, Dewitt Township and the Clinton County Road Commission have come together to provide walking and biking paths throughout Dewitt Township. Dewitt Township is calling it the Non-Motorized Transportation Plan, which will be making walking and biking much more desired modes of transportation.  

“The township adopted a non-motorized transportation plan in 2013, so this is one of the projects that was identified on that plan,” said Rod Taylor, Dewitt Township manager.  We started working on it in a concentrated fashion in 2015.”

“The Non-Motorized Transportation Plan identified 60 different projects where we ranked those projects based upon a weighted system that looked at safety issues, connection with commercial areas, schools, and neighborhoods,” said Taylor.  “In addition, this project was a joint venture with the City of Dewitt as well as the Clinton County Road Commission.

DeWitt prepares to build new city hall

What comes to mind when you think of a city hall? More than likely, you will picture a big white building with pillars at the front entrance, and a domed roof at the center of the structure. However, for many small towns such as DeWitt, that is simply not the case. DeWitt’s city hall was built in 1957 and was added on to in 1986 according to the July 2017 edition of the DeWitt city newsletter. Nowadays, the city council, led by mayor Sue Leeming, are looking for a new town hall to call home.

DeWitt residents go all-out for Halloween

Trick-or-treating wasn’t the only Halloween activity on DeWitt’s to-do list for the holiday.  DeWitt takes Halloween to the next level by incorporating a weekend-long house decoration contest into the festivities. “It’s to really thank the people in the community for going all out and decorating at holiday time,” said Loretta Spinrad, from the DeWitt Area Chamber of Commerce.  “So, we have a contest to get other residents to go out and look at the decorations.  We award winners basically to say thank you.”

“Some of those houses that are decorated are phenomenal,” said Spinrad.  “Some of these people go all out, and it’s just unbelievable where are this stuff comes from and how much they’ve invested in this.  Some of them have smoke, lights, moving objects, and sound.”

This year only 10 houses were entered into the contest. This number is a decrease from the previous year, which was 18.  However, the lower number of houses in the contest didn’t take away from homeowners showing their Halloween spirit and taking part in the festivities.  DeWitt Residents, Arlyn and Stuart King, have fully embraced the contest and are intending on taking home the prize this year. “We love Halloween,” said Stuart King.  “Halloween brings the community together, and I was hoping the contest would help bring people through.”

The Kings’ yard is one of the most creative, with everything being built by hand.  The props and characters in the haunted house move via electric motors and tell a creative story to go along with it to make it even more unique. “I think a really fun part of Stuart’s creations is that they are unique,” said Arlyn King.  “You can’t purchase them anywhere because they come out of his imagination.  A lot of the items are found items, and we find things that people threw out and we incorporate it.”

“We chose the theme haunted house,” said Stuart King.  “Once that was selected, then it was a matter of making it all happen.  Every year is something brand new.”

Across town, another home is showing the Halloween spirit by going with a pirate theme this year.  Jack and Pat Crick have incorporated a coffin, a jail cell, and even gallows in their creation.

Planning firm brings their knowledge to DeWitt

 

At the city council meeting on Oct. 25, council members stated that this is the first time since 1987 that the planning services contract was bid out. Planning firm Beckett & Raeder, Inc. has been contracted by the city of DeWitt to aid its growth. They offer a range of services for clients for developing and managing community growth. Some of the services are: Community master plans, strategic planning, and small town design.

In divisive times, DeWitt eschews partisanship

When brothers Andrew and Billy McElfresh made the decision to live in DeWitt, proximity to work was a primary motivator. Politics were not. “It’s like a hit-or-miss, depends on the subject,” Billy McElfresh said. “Healthcare, stuff that affects me. I know, sounds very arrogant or ignorant, but I don’t pay attention to the big stuff, just stuff that directly affects me.”

Neither brother voted in the 2016 presidential election, and though they had strong opinions on healthcare, gun laws and education funding, time hasn’t convinced them to lean one way or another.

Man’s best friend has a new place to play

The DeWitt Dog Park is a new attraction for dog owners in the DeWitt Township area who are looking to remove the leash and let the dog run freely.  The dog park is a new gated park that is located at 3577 West Herbison Road, directly next to Padgett Park.   

“The project took about 12 months to put together, with the construction taking place this previous summer,” said DeWitt City administrator Daniel Coss.  “The fences were installed in May of 2017 and we started planning it in May of 2016.  It was a group effort by the city and the township.”

Coss said the City of DeWitt and DeWitt Township worked together to select a location.

At Chandler Crossings, MSU students colonize Bath Township

If one were to send mail to someone living at Chandler Crossings, their mailing address would suggest they live in East Lansing. However, the cluster of student neighborhoods north of MSU is actually under the jurisdiction of Bath Township. Chandler Crossings is a high-growth area that sees more development than the rest of Bath Township, tending to center around student housing, Bath Planning Commission Chair and MSU professor Dan Kramer said. “It’s a more dynamic area for sure, in terms of the pace of development and the number of units developed,” Kramer said. As Chandler Crossings lies under the jurisdiction of Bath Township, residents make use of Bath Township Police Department and other township resources and services.

Appointments bring variety of expertise to DeWitt City Council

If there is a vacancy in an elected position, the DeWitt City Charter requires it to be filled within 30 days. DeWitt City Council has needed to fill a vacancy more than a few times since the early 2000s. Six out of the seven current members of DeWitt City Council originally got there via appointment, including Mayor Sue Leeming and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Hunsaker. However, this is not a hindrance or a sign of turnover issues, but instead an opportunity to ensure council has a variety of experience and get lower-level city employees to take the next step, Leeming said. “Since I was appointed to council 14 years ago, there seems to have been a pattern for about the last 14-16 years of vacancies on council being filled with appointments and then the people who were appointed to fill those vacancies running for office and being elected,” Hunsaker said.

Las Vegas shooting continues debate of safety and security

Amidst the recent tragedies that have cost the lives of several Americans in 2017, safety is at the forefront of all schools, child care centers and businesses. Most recently, Stephen Paddock, 64, gunned down innocent concertgoers on the Las Vegas strip, killing 68 and injuring hundreds more. This disaster further surfaces issues of safety, gun control and mental health. “We always have to have safety as the number one concern,” DeWitt Public Schools superintendent John Deiter said. “We’ve tried to do our best to secure our buildings, and we’re in the process of a bond project to add further security to our buildings.

Cat in the Tub: How a cougar invaded Bath Township

Bath Township made quite a splash in June when it became the site of a landmark occurrence. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, confirmed a cougar sighting as legitimate, the first confirmed appearance of the big cat species in the Lower Peninsula in over a century. “Cougars were native to Michigan, but they were totally eliminated from Michigan just because of fear and livestock depredations long ago,” DNR wildlife biologist Kevin Swanson said. “We have no evidence of a breeding population, but we get these transients that come through mostly the Upper Peninsula from time to time.” A Michigan press release with Swanson listed as a contact states the last time a wild cougar was taken in the state was in 1906.