Streamlined Meridian Township burn policies work to keep blazes under control

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

The summer before heading off to college is typically considered to be the perfect time for recent high school graduates to create long-lasting memories with their
friends. While 2012 Okemos High School graduate Colin Jackson said that he expected to create some moments he would never forget before leaving his hometown, he never expected them to be so incendiary. “The summer I graduated, there was a rumor going around that a girl I knew accidentally set fire to a field called ‘The Shire’ that we used to have bonfires at,” Jackson said. “Apparently she didn’t put a fire out all the way and ended up burning down a good chunk of [the field].”

Jackson said his curiosity led him to revisit the alleged burn site to see if the rumors were true. “I went back this year and all of the grass is like, seriously lower and you can still see where stuff is charred, so I guess it actually happened,” Jackson said.

Donated thermal imaging cameras put to use quickly

By Madelyn Scroggie
The Mason Times

Mason, Mich. – Two thermal imaging cameras that can detect heat energy through

smoke, walls or doors were donated to The Mason Fire Department by Dart Container Corporation on March 9 and have already begun to help firefighters on the job. Fire Chief Kerry Minshall said in an interview that the department has already put the cameras to good use. “So far we have only had them a couple weeks,” said Minshall, “but we had a structure fire the other morning, a week ago today, and were able to use them.”

The fire took place in the attic of a home in Mason. Within a few minutes, the firefighters could tell exactly where there was a wire burned off which was causing the fire.

Meridian Township "well ahead of the curve" in preparing for violent emergencies

By Ally Hamzey
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter 

Over one month after six people were killed and two others injured in a series of random shootings taken place in Kalamazoo County, Meridian Township residents and officials still face the question of how to prepare for potential violent events on the homefront. Meridian Township Fire Chief Fred Cowper is confident of Meridian Township’s advanced planning for violent emergency situations. “You aren’t going to find many townships with the equipment or the training that we have,” Cowper said. “We are well ahead of the curve.”

Cowper explains the Meridian Township Police Department and the Meridian Township Fire Department were awarded over $1,000,000 by the state of Michigan through a grant. Of that, $240,000 of was given to the departments to train for such emergencies, according to Cowper.

Delhi Township Fire Department honors its own

By Anna Shaffer
Holt Journal Staff Reporter

The Delhi Township Fire Department recently recognized those doing their best work to keep the community safe. On Feb. 18, Delhi Fire Chief Brian Ball held an awards banquet to recognize personnel in the Delhi Township Fire Department. Retired Deputy Chief Michael Grant was recognized for his 38 years working in the department and helping the Holt community, and master firefighter Matt Bennett was awarded firefighter of the year. According to the Delhi Township website, the department contains 14 full-time personnel and 25 members who are paid, on-call.

"A lot of pride" in Meridian's new Central Fire Station

By Katie Dudlets
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

OKEMOS — The new Central Fire Station located at the corner of Okemos Road and Central Park Drive comes in a larger context of infrastructure redevelopment for Meridian Township. It has been fully-operational and providing emergency services since January. Fire Chief Fred Cowper believes this move from the antiquated station on Clinton Street to the new one was entirely necessary. “The [Clinton Street] fire station that we closed was built in 1957, and in 1957 there weren’t females in the fire service in our country,” said Cowper. “So it lacked separate bathrooms, showers and dormitories.

The pros and cons of Meridian Township's emergency communication policies

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

With winter weather scares already in the books for the new year, Meridian Township public officials are relying on the township’s emergency operations plan to keep residents safe and informed during Michigan’s temperamental transition from winter to spring. Meridian Township Fire Chief and Emergency Manager Fred Cowper said the plan values transparency between city officials and Meridian residents. “The plan is updated nearly every year and is shared online and at board meetings,” Cowper said. “Our communications director is always a part of our emergency meetings. She makes sure everything is up to date with contacting media sources and putting information on Facebook and Twitter.”

After reviewing Meridian’s communication outlets and social platforms, Juan Mundel, doctoral student within Michigan State University’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations, noted some strengths and weaknesses within the township’s policies.

Redevelopment plan to bring new restaurant to Okemos

By Erin Gray
The Meridian Times

The closed fire station and bank building on the corner of Okemos and Hamilton Road won’t sit empty for long thanks to local business owner and developer Kris Elliottt of Evergreen Companies. Elliott plans to redevelop the intersection by renovating the former bank building, MARC, into a restaurant and demolishing the old Meridian Township fire station and library building. “We thought we would try to have some transformation and some synergy down there,” said Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie. “Having a popular restaurant would be something that drives a lot of people to an area and helps an area turn around really quick,” she said. Phase one of the project is the renovation of the restaurant and the demolition of the fire station.

Kean’s Store undergoes renovations after fire causes smoke damage

By Layne Alfred
The Mason Times

Kean’s Store, a Mason classic that has remained unchanged in the downtown square for 87 years, is being renovated after severe smoke damage that wiped out all of the merchandise. In June, an electrical fire at Baja Grill, a restaurant attached to Kean’s, caused smoke to seep into the store and caused major damage. “Everything had to come out. They gutted it. It was a long process,” said Laurie Reed, the store manager of Kean’s.