Library hopeful for a new building, despite odds

By Matt Miller
Williamston Post staff writer

Uncertainty hovers over the library’s future as the community lacks knowledge of how to go further, yet a new home is needed and progress is slow.

“I kind of don’t see it happening,” said Rebecca Langham, who works as a library assistant, and suggested that groups have been fundraising for almost 10 years.

Williamston library lost its home a few years ago when the it was decided that its current building was unfit. Langham described the older building as run down and inappropriate.

After the library moved out of its old building, the building was hit by a tornado. The current building at 201 School St. houses the community center and senior center as well, yet this building is too small and cannot even meet the library’s needs.
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Police await sale of current building

By Matt Miller
Williamston Post Staff Writer

Police Chief Bob Young said, “there has been a signed purchase agreement, but there has been no closing,” regarding the sale of the old police station located at 1500 W. Grand River Ave. To Young, the current police station is functional, but he would prefer to be downtown so the police station is more accessible to the public.

Young said the current police station is old and run down, but still meets the police force’s needs. However, he said that a police station should be located downtown, especially in a city the size of Williamston.

The city is ready to build the new station, but construction cannot begin until the old building has been sold. According to City Manager Alan Dolley, the greatest challenge the city is facing is construction costs, which he believes may be higher this year. Dolley said that the sale of the building, it is taking longer than hoped. He said, “the gentleman that is trying to develop that site has hoops he has to jump through to meet his financing requirements.”

According to Dolley, the new police station will be located on Cedar Street and Grand River Avenue. Dolley said that this location was chosen because the old police station was there, before a tornado damaged it.
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City Council approves Master Plan Update Proposal

By RuAnne Walworth
Williamston Post staff writer

City council members in the middle of deliberation.

City council members in the middle of deliberation.

Williamston City Council members held a heavy discussion on the Master Plan Update Proposal on Oct. 14.

According to City Contracting Planner Michael Gradis, the master plan has to be updated every five years. Williamston is a year behind this timeframe, which raised the importance of City Council’s approval on this proposal.

“We have been working with the planning commission to update this master plan and submitted a proposal back in March,” Gradis said. “We will be reviewing amendments in planning commission at a kick-off meeting.”

The commission will focus on updates with its’ concept land use map. This map, from 2007, has some discrepancies, according to Gradis, and updating the map will help with rezoning. Continue reading

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Rest in pennies

by Michelle Armstead
Williamston Post staff writer

The next generation of young Americans may be asking “what is a penny?” just as many ask “what is Pluto?”

On Feb. 4, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint stopped producing and distributing pennies because it now costs more than a penny to make one; the last Canadian penny was minted in May 2012.

The United States is considering a similar move, evident in two bills proposed in the U.S. Congress that were never approved.

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School districts count on students to show

By Derek Kim
Williamston Post staff writer

Williamston High School Principal Jeffrey Thoenes paid close attention to the size of his student body on Wednesday.

Feb. 13 was Count Day for Michigan public schools. Counts determine the size of the approximately 80 percent share of funding that school districts get from the state.

“We run our curricular, co-curricular and athletic programs with that money. Without Count Day, we would be nothing,” Thoenes said.

Thoenes, who is entering his third year at Williamston High School, said the daily routine does not significantly change despite the day’s importance. The secretarial staff receives the lion’s share of the work, tracking attendance and documenting a multitude of state-required forms. Continue reading

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Here’s what is behind sale of police building

3photo
By Matilyn Ozment
Williamston Post staff writer

The process of selling the current Williamston Police Department building is nearing its final stages.

The Economic Development Corporation, who is leasing to the city of Williamston, owns the building and is in the process of selling it.

According to City Manager Alan Dolley, the building is selling for $500,000. The proceeds will be split between the EDC and the city. About $100,000 will be used to pay off the current mortgage, $88,000 will go to the EDC and the remaining amount will be used for the new police station. Continue reading

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Council sets Feb. 25 hearing for sale of police station

photoBy Stephen Brooks
Williamston Post staff writer

The City Council approved a date and time for a public hearing regarding the potential sale of the Williamston Police Department building, 1500 W. Grand River Ave, at its Jan. 28 meeting. The hearing will be held at 7:05 p.m. on Feb. 25 at City Hall.

The current police station currently is being sold, Mayor James DeForest said. The eventual plan is to build a new station next to City Hall with money from the sale of the 1500 W. Grand River Ave. location.

“After the public hearing … later that evening we’ll probably have a vote on accepting (the plan at the City Council meeting),” DeForest said.

At the hearing, DeForest said he hopes to have potential designs and concepts for the new building project for the public to see.
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Second try for school repair tax on May ballot

By Michelle Armstead
Williamston Post staff writer

The Williamston School Board plans to put a tax proposal on the May ballot to fund school repairs. Voters rejected a similar proposal Nov.6.

The state allows the district to establish a sinking fund rather than a bond to pay for school repairs; according the Steve Cook, director of finance, the district’s debt structure does not levy enough millage to cover its current bonds. The last bond issue was given in 2005.

In December, it was reported that Williamston High School had cracked floors, leaking ceilings in multiple areas of the school and a broken boiler. The district reported that there were eroding parking lots, rusted doors and damaged carpeting.

With the sinking fund the money could be used to improve or replace heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems equipment; flooring such as carpet, tile flooring and rubber flooring; and sidewalks, parking lots, doors and windows.

These improvements have been put on a “wish list” made by Cook.

Moreover, Cook stated that there is several million dollars of expenses all together.
“For the most part there’s at least over $1 million to be spent in roofs alone,” he added.

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Sports suffer minimal losses at Williamston High School

artwork on display in the Williamston High School cafeteria

By Justine McGuire
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON – Loss of funds has not stopped Williamston High School from providing sports programs for its students.

The high school has avoided cutting sports teams and coaching positions but has had to trade two part-time athletic directors for one part-time athletic director and assistant principal, Mike Freeman, who took on the extra role without additional pay. The school has also had to cut back on uniforms, supplies and materials.

Finance Director Steve Cook said the district has lost $270 per student, or about $500,000. The district’s total budget is just shy of $16 million.

Williamston High School Principal Jeffery Thoenes said that sports have had minimal cuts because, overtime, general funding for sports has been replaced with sports boosters.

The district has avoided cutting any sports programs because of the possibility that students might use school of choice to play their sport elsewhere.

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Budget cuts limiting Williamston schools

Williamston High School

By Justine McGuire
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON - Williamston Community Schools have had to cut spending for academics, faculty and administration.

Finance Director Steve Cook said that for this school year the district lost $470 per student but regained $200 per student in incentive money based on percentage growth in state test scores. In total, the district lost $270 per student or about $500,000.

The district now gets $6,888 per student, or a total budget just shy of $16 million.

Cook said that there is a potential for gaining another $90 per student through incentives for the coming school year, and that other money for the district should stay the same.

Budget cuts have made classes a little different at the high school this year.

“Prior to my arrival here, Williamston schools did everything they could to keep cuts away from the classroom,” Thoenes said. “This last year (budget cuts) impacted the classroom directly.”

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