Future of Mason medical marijuana policy under review

Mason Medical Marijuana Regulation
By Justin Sienowski
The Mason Times

With Mason having undergone many changes over the years, Chairman of the Mason 150 Coordinating Committee and Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown finds it hard to speculate on the future – especially when it comes to the topic of marijuana.

“I honestly do not know whether or not marijuana use will be completely legalized in the foreseeable future,” Brown said. “So much is still unknown at this point.”

When Michigan lawmakers passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in 2008, making marijuana use legal for patients who had a prescription from a qualified doctor, it posed a conundrum to city governments around the state. With any use of marijuana still illegal at the federal level, cities had to tread carefully.

“Even though the state was allowing it we did not want to violate federal law because the federal government could have come and fought the city,” Brown said. “Federal laws, state laws and local laws were all at different levels of conflict.”

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Urban sustainability in Mason means more than expanding infrastructure

Robert Liberty converses with a community member prior to the meeting

By Layne Alfred
The Mason Times

“Cooperation and planning forms a vibrant city,” said Robert Liberty, director of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator at Portland State University of Oregon. Liberty presented his urban sustainability plan at the Mason City Council Meeting on Nov. 2.

Mid-Michigan is participating in “Imagine Mid-Michigan,” the Urban Sustainability Accelerator program directed by Liberty. This plan includes downtown success, farmland preservation, and much more that affect long-term “fiscal health and sustainability of government,” said Liberty.

“Why should you care when your responsibility is here in Mason?” Liberty asked the Council. Mason is part of the regional housing market as well as regional employment, so urban sustainability in even a small town such as Mason affects all of Michigan. However, Liberty did make it clear how beneficial a new urban zoning plan would be for citizens of Mason. “We want to maintain a quality of life here in Mason,” said Liberty, and sustainability helps to “maintain a sense of place.”

David Haywood, zoning and development director in Mason, said that urban planning is changing. “We just adopted an update in 2014. We call for at least three areas where we anticipate growing. We have room in the city to grow. We study those areas to determine how we want it to develop.”

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New city administrator Deborah Stuart to start Jan. 1

By Jake Atnip
The Mason Times

Mason has been led by interim City Administrator Pat Price since June. However, a conditional offer has been accepted by the newly appointed Deborah Stuart.

Stuart is director of Community Incentive Programs for Michigan Economic Development Corporation in Lansing. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a master’s degree in public administration in 2005. She is also the representative on the Board of Directors for the Council of State Community Development Agencies for the Midwest region.

According to Mason Councilman James Mulvaney, “Mrs. Stuart has accepted terms of compensation and will start work on Jan. 1, 2016.”

The City Council has yet to formally announce Stuart’s hiring or comment on details of her contract.

Martin Colburn, former Mason City administrator, offered some advice for Stuart.
“Truly immerse yourself into the community,” he said, “Mason is a great place to enjoy.”

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Mason residents gather to discuss time capsule submissions

time capsuleBy Justin Sienkowski
The Mason Times

A public workshop to answer questions of Mason residents over the city’s time capsule project was held Nov. 2 at the Mason Area Historical Museum.

The meeting was led by Alissa Day, vice president of the Mason Area Historical Society, who covered general instructions and submission ideas for the time capsule. The project, which is a part of Mason’s sesquicentennial celebration put on by the Mason 150 Committee, is accepting submissions until Dec. 1.

Day said that the committee is hoping to include “things that kind of give you a snapshot of what it was like to live in 2015.” Residents are encouraged to include items that describe our world today, such as “prices of things, what’s popular and what is going on in the news.”

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Council makes conditional offer on city administrator

By Jake Atnip
The Mason Times

The Mason City Council selected a candidate for city administrator position on Nov. 10. If an acceptance is negotiated on the conditional offer, Mason will have a new manager.

City Councilman Jim Mulvaney wrote in an e-mail that a meeting took place between Acting City Administrator Pat Price and the candidate on Nov. 12. This was to negotiate a contract and compensation.

After almost eight hours of interviews and deliberations, the City Council chose Deborah Stuart. She is the Michigan Community Incentives Program Director for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She has worked in government for 12 years and has headed many fundraising programs.

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4 to be interviewed Tuesday for city administrator

By Jason Kraft
The Mason Times

The City Council will interview four candidates Tuesday, Nov. 10, for city administrator. The interviews will be public.

Mason contracted with the Michigan Municipal League to find candidates. Kathie Grinzinger, lead search facilitator of the league, said “The City of Mason did a lot of work ahead of time to create an ideal profile for the candidate they were looking for. We received 26 resumes from across the country, and used Mason’s profile to choose the candidates to be interviewed.” The opening was created in May when Marty Colburn took a job as city manager in Traverse City.

Jonathan Greene is slated to interview first, at 9:30 a.m. “There is no timetable for the others,” said Grinzinger. “We assume each interview will take 90 minutes, and we will include a brief lunch break for the council.”

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Oracle opening ignites hope for historical buildings

Oracle’s third-floor lobby overlooking courthouse square

By Layne Alfred
The Mason Times

Stepping inside the new home of Oracle Financial Solutions in Mason, Michigan for the first time, you would never guess that the building was built during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. The smell of fresh cedar lingers in the air, voices echo off the walls and everything looks brand new.

Oracle Financial Solutions, which was previously located just a block away above Bestseller’s Bookstore, has renovated an ancient building that was formerly “one big eyesore,” as described by Kurt Creamer, a member of the founding team. It was an abandoned building; the roofs were collapsed, the building was filled with mold, and there was seemingly no hope of revitalization.

Creamer, Charles Moore, Ryan Parrot, and Scott Russ, who founded Oracle Financial Solutions together, decided to take on the challenge. The building has now been rehabilitated into a business and residential facility for the firm, but it wasn’t easy. It was important for the team to move, not only because it would be better for their business, but also so that they could keep the old buildings in Mason alive.

“The building was in extremely bad condition, so it was special to our team to be involved in a project that improved the downtown Mason area,” said Parrot.

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Dennis O’Brien honored at The Mason Tree Commission

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Countless hours spent maintaining city parks and caring for the trees at Maple Grove Cemetery has earned Dennis O’Brien honoree status at The Mason Tree Commission.

O’Brien began his career as a laborer for the Department of Public Works in May 1978. In August 2005, more than 30 years later, he retired as an arborist and superintendent of cemetery, parks and forestry.

The planting of a sugar maple tree in honor of O’Brien is scheduled for noon on Arbor Day, Friday April 24 at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Mason and open to the public.
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Proposal 1, better for Mason’s future?

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Intermodal Policy Section Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation Rob Balmes provided a brief overview of Proposal 1 at the March 16 City Council Meeting detailing main changes taxpayers will witness if the Proposal is passed.

“Proposal 1,” Balmes said, “will increase sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, while exempting fuel purchases, if approved by a vote to amend the Michigan Constitution May 5.

Sent to ballot by the House and the Senate, Proposal 1 would trigger a series of other laws designed to maximize new investments on road funding and minimize growing tax burdens for low-income residents, Balmes said.
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Sesquicentennial ceremony program lineup

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Marlon Brown discuses the program for the Mason Sesquicentennial Anniversary Ceremony scheduled for March 9 at 6 p.m.

Brown plans to introduce the Mason 150 Sesquicentennial Anniversary Committee to begin the celebration.

After introductions, the Fire Department and 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Company B Color Guard will perform.
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