Coming soon: a new and improved DeWitt

By Shane Jones
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — Buildings in downtown DeWitt have been standing for many years, but the businesses have changed greatly. One building for example was once an old car dealership, now it is a restaurant. What was once a church, will now be a brewery. As time goes on, the city of DeWitt is trying to change from the small city that it is known for into more of a modern city. Each year, the city and township management are constantly trying to help the city grow.

“Weapon-free School Zone” exists around DeWitt Public Schools

by Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — At a time in American society when gun violence has become familiar news and mass shootings dominate the media circuit, many communities across the United States have changed their gun safety policies to better respond to a possible threat. In DeWitt, it’s mean no guns in schools. In the Administrative Guidelines for DeWitt Public Schools, it is stated that “The Board of Education prohibits professional staff members from possessing, storing, making, or using a weapon in any setting that is under the control and supervision of the District for the purpose of school activities approved and authorized by the District.”

Adopted by the Board in February, this policy provides just a few exceptions for this ban, including weapons under the control of law enforcement. Bruce Ferguson, police chief for the City of DeWitt, sees a need for these gun-free zones. Even more so, Ferguson sees a need for preventative measures and education to stop violence before it starts.

DeWitt has been improving its community thanks to the Master Plan

By Holly Osmer
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — The City of DeWitt, with its local businesses, pleasant parks, and quality schools, has seen a large increase in the amount of residential growth in the past 10 to 15 years, and their economy is expected to continue growing, despite Michigan’s overall slowed pace. According to the “City of DeWitt Master Plan The Big Picture DeWitt 2010 to 2020,” this growth pressure is expected to continue to impact DeWitt, the DeWitt School District and other public services during the life of this Master Plan and beyond. “The Master Plan is a document that depicts how the city would like the land to be used and developed over the course of time covered,” said DeWitt City Administrator Dan Coss. “The Planning Commission and City Council worked on the Master Plan for approximately 12 months and then by State Statute it is reviewed every five years,” said Coss. “The time it takes [to finish a Master Plan] really depends on if there are any amendments to the plan, typically 6-12 months.”

Since its creation, there are several aspects of DeWitt that have been either added or improved.

DeWitt is still not very diverse, but working on it

By Zachary Manning
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — The City of DeWitt has a clear lack of diversity and residents, city officials, school officials, and police have mixed reviews on why. According to the 2010 census, about 95 percent of DeWitt’s population is white, 1.4 percent is black, 0.9 percent is Asian, and 0.4 percent is American Indian. DeWitt’s white population is above the national average of 72.4 percent. DeWitt’s black population is below the national average of 12.6 percent. The Asian population in DeWitt is below the national average of 4.8 percent.

In the city of DeWitt, crime is on vacation, but not the cops

By Brendan Wilner
The Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — In the city of DeWitt, everyone is working together to continue their low crime rates. The small population of DeWitt has allowed both city officials and the police department to not have to worry about the crime rate. The city had 80 total arrests for both 2014 and 2015, according to City Administrator Dan Coss. “We have a very proactive police department and our officers are very visible in the community. We have a 24/7 department,” said Coss.

There’s a new sheriff in town … or just a new officer, soon

By Brendan Wilner
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — In the city of DeWitt, the police department will be seeing a new face in the office this spring. According to Chief Bruce Ferguson, the department was accepting applications for a new full-time police officer from the dates of March 7-28. According to the city job posting, the job includes 12-hour shifts, being community policing-oriented, enforcement of all state and local laws and ordinances, and prevention, detection, and investigations of crime and traffic crashes. With the deadline closed, it will only be a matter of time until the decision is made. The process was a long, thought out one that had many applicants apply, according to Ferguson.

Less snow + more rain = high river

By Shane Jones
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids announced a flood advisory March 23 affecting Clinton County and the city of DeWitt until March 28, as more rain is forecast for the coming days. That means people shouldn’t expect the Looking Glass River’s water level in DeWitt to go down any time soon. As some citizens may have known, last week the Looking Glass River flooded into some of the local parks such as the Riverside Park and the Looking Glass Riverside Park in DeWitt Township. During this time of year when the precipitation is changing from the dreaded snow to the more rainfall. “The water level is about the same in the river and the parks.

Flooding season is here; soggy parks can be expected

By Shane Jones
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — No more sliding cars or shoveling driveways! Winter is finally coming to an end and although there were times of hazardous weather, it has been a very calm winter in Michigan. Now with the change to spring and warmer weather, there has been more rain. As many citizens of DeWitt probably know, during the early months of spring, the Looking Glass River will sometimes flood and have an effect on some of the parks in DeWitt such as the Riverside Park, located at 405 S. Bridge St. and also the Looking Glass Riverside Park located on 3899 W. Herbison Road in DeWitt Township.

City of DeWitt Police Department seeing less crimes being called in

By Brendan Wilner
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — Over the past few years the city of DeWitt has had an average amount of crimes for a small city, including assaults, larceny, and even accidents. Those are just a few reasons people would call the police department in DeWitt. Chief Bruce Ferguson, who has been the chief since 2013, said that having a smaller city has allowed him to get closer to the citizens. “I don’t know if anyone in the city doesn’t have my cell phone number,” Ferguson said, “The city is close and small, so some people actually just drop by on their way home or something and talk to me directly.”

According to Ferguson, the police department will send officers to do house checks for the citizens. He said that they do around 250 checks a year.

Farmer’s markets taking off in DeWitt, nationwide

By Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Reporter

DEWITT — The Downtown DeWitt Farmers Market is a one-stop shop for fresh produce, locally-sourced meat and eggs, an assortment of home goods, and a hefty dose of community engagement. The farmers market, which is run by the DeWitt Downtown Development Authority, brought in an average of 1,000 attendees in 2015. “Last year, we had a pretty tremendous showing with both vendors and attendance,” said Linda Kahler, Market Manager and DDA Coordinator. As for this year, Kahler said attendees “can expect higher foot traffic and more of a variety of vendors … which will allow our shoppers to have a more diverse shopping experience.”

The growing attendance rates of Downtown DeWitt’s Farmers Market are not unique to DeWitt, as farmers markets nationwide are experiencing a rise in popularity among consumers. Official surveys from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirm this trend.