Announcing! The first annual Whoville Holiday Decorating contest, sponsored by Shear Class Salon and Day Spa. Who in Elberta will come up with the greatest house and lawn decor to brighten up our midwinter? Submit your $10 entrance fee to Shear Class. The Overall Best Decor winner gets the whole kitty (and by kitty I mean money). The Best “Grinch/WhoVille” decoration gets a $50 gift certificate from Shear Class! Come on, everybody, and let’s give Ken and Lois Holmes a run for their money. I’m already voting for Fred McConnell.—Emily Votruba
VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING
November 20, 2014 • 7 PM
The newly elected Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held its first regular meeting on Thursday, November 20, 2014, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.
The meeting was called to order by president Diane Jenks at 7:08 p.m.
Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance
Present: Ken Holmes, Diane Jenks, Holly O’Dwyer, Bill Soper
Absent: Joyce Gatrell, Jean Sikes
Public: Lois Schram, Cathy Anderson, Richard Jenkins, Bob and Bonnie Ness
Approval of Minutes Tabled. Minutes were received late.
Approval of Agenda Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve the agenda as presented. All ayes. Motion passed.
Agenda Conflict: None stated.
Public Input 7:10: None.
Letter from Village attorney regarding renewed litigation from Loy Putney. Letter from Parks&Rec Commission regarding reservation of the LSS for Solstice, formation of committee to examine whether to have Solstice or not this year (see attached). Jenks said LSS is already reserved for Solstice and council would be willing to hold that reservation until January.
APPROVAL OF BILLS
MML dues: $531. Record-Patriot Subscription: 35.40. DEQ drinking water and municipal assistance: $767.50. MML CDL Drivers Consortium fee: $70. BLUA: $495.64. BenCo Road Commission salt: $1,734.91. Benzie Chamber of Commerce membership: $135. Total: $3,769.45
Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer, to pay these bills. All ayes. Motion passed.
Old Business: Benzie Bus Stop
Jenks: Not sure who will pay for the shelter. Wanted to discuss location of stop with Ken Bonney but Bonney not present this evening. O’Dwyer: If there’s a shelter, should block winds from the north if the stop is located at the Penfold Park. Holmes: Wondered if a stop would interfere with the Farmers’ Mkt. Will have to keep it plowed in winter. Suggests location between Conundrum and Mix’s Barbershop on one-way Sheridan Street. Jenks: Invite Chad Hollenbeck back for another meeting and get more specifics on what they need.
Old Business: Pump House Files
Holmes has taken most of the files to Ken Bonney’s office in garage, to be stored in an overhead storage area. Consulted the village attorney and was told that anything having to do with past lawsuits has to be kept forever.
Old Business: Vacating Acre Street
Jenkins said a delay in the Acre Street vacating because Village couldn’t combine that payment with his notary-application payment. Holmes: Need to complete the vacating before taxes are calculated in the spring.
AGENDA 1: New Council
O’Dwyer and Soper introduce themselves. Jean Sikes had a prior commitment so couldn’t make it to this first meeting. Jenks: Eric Cline and Roxanne Nicholas (Treasury) and Chris Olson (consultant on DEP and internal controls) want to have a meeting to bring new council members up to speed. Jenkins is assembling materials for new council: Robert’s Rules cheatsheet (Jenkins created), new General Law handbook, Planning Commission and Parks&Recreation bylaws, contact sheet for all members. Mary Charles is usual contact person at MML; MML website helpful information. Council is still short one member (total 7) because of Wilkins’s resignation.
AGENDA 2: Goals of Council
Jenks asked members to voice their short term and long term goals.
Soper: Short-term, need to address the DEP, make concrete steps toward eliminating the debt. Seems like we’ve been backsliding. Also upgrade and improve the website to make it more navigable and with more information. Long-term: reduce the deficit and develop a surplus. Enlist volunteers to make improvements.
Holmes: Get rid of the debt in two years no matter how much it hurts. It’s already hurt some. Would hate to see the tax rate go up, Village already taxed to the limit. Long term: Take care of the problem on the beach and make docks operational at the Mini Pond. Water table is coming up right now, making boat docks viable again.
O’Dwyer: Get finances under control. Increase the tax base by encouraging building. Some new development may be scared off by the financial situation. Long-term: Would like to see a campground and/or mini cabins for rent.
Jenks: Glad everyone agrees finances are number one priority. Would like a DNR trust fund grant to improve the beach. Village is property rich and tax poor. Villagers value our assets, even small ones. Make these pay for themselves. Possibly lease some of them. Lots of possibilities for EDNA.
Holmes: The Indians need to clean up their property so people can see the bay. Have had no response from them.
Jenks: Think their land division dissolved. Don’t have current contact info. Should rent the pavilions and the Community Building. Had 11 LSS rentals last year, already have 22 for next year. Kristi Mills’s contract says she’ll fundraise for LSS improvements, and she’s set up a vendor referral program that will bring in some money. Floors need to be commercially cleaned. April 4 will be a Bridal Expo, proceeds go to LSS improvements.
Holmes: Maybe have more special meetings so we’re not here for three hours for council meetings.
Jenks: Could hold workshop meetings on particular topics and invite members of the public. Would not be compulsory for council, but give oppty to explore topics and be better informed before meetings. First will be meeting with DEP with state reps.
O’Dwyer: Could have workshop meetings at other more casual locations such as the Mayfair or outdoors. Potuck.
Jenks: We should tour Village assets, assess what we have, get Kenny to lead the way.
Holmes: Need a map of our parks.
Jenks: Need signs. Penfold sign is done, not up yet.
Holmes: No one knows where the Dune Park is.
Jenks: Suggest each council member choose a committee to be on. Budget Finance and Audit committee is the most important one right now and need interested, committed members. According to Cline/Olson, can accept non-council members. Open committee membership up to the public, with councilperson as chair. Come up with application and descriptions for each committee. Holmes create description for BLUA/Fire Safety. Policies, Procedures and Internal Controls is another important committee. Still need to create an employee handbook.
Holmes: Renaissance is coming to Graceland, will increase tax revenue for Township
Jenks: People don’t realize we really could lose this village. We don’t automatically go to Frankfort; we get absorbed by the township. Do we want to remain a village? I’m willing to work for it.
AGENDA 3: Library Building
Jenks: Would like a letter of intent from township regarding desire to purchase the building. Not a given that we’ll sell to township. Sign needs to go back in window. Need to make sure sale price covers cost of appraisal, survey. Holmes: Suggest going to a twp meeting. Bell tower will also have to be moved if it’s sold to another party. O’Dwyer: is note about sale on Village website? No, and not sure what to say if someone calls. Jenks: Need clear answers about sale for Harlan (of Treasury). Holmes: Cld invite twp to our meeting but no sense asking during hunting season. Jenks will call Carl.
AGENDA 4: Penfold Park Sale
Jenks: Not sure we even have a clear deed. Park sale will require a referendum. If we do it as a request for proposals we’ll have more control over what goes there. Set up a minimum price, put it out for bids and proposals. A committee can choose. Property has to recover $45K per year in order to make up for not selling for $170K. Dredging could help make it generate revenue. Long term, it will make much more than $170K. Must have acceptable plan of action to show state. Holmes: It’s a navigable waterway. Can’t sell it anyway. Jenks: Please bring written proof of that for us to show state.
DPW: No report submitted by Ken Bonney and Bonney not at this meeting.
Treasurer’s Report: Easier to read nowadays. (Available in Village office)
Parks & Rec: 4th year of Xmas tree sale, at Penfold Park Pavilion. 30 trees, blue spruce and Fraser fir, $30 each. Fri, Sat, Sun only. First Friday 1-7 pm, 1-5 Sat and Sun, and 5-7 on Fridays after that. Warming station, cocoa and Solstice/Park&Rec merchandise for sale. Emily Votruba: “I promise it will be warm.” Jenks: Decorating contest this year. Town done up like Whoville. $10 entry fee, winner take all. Cathy Anderson: Materials in your packets include: P&R Treasurer’s Report: Farmers’ Mkt Annual Report (available in Village office and on website); EDNA 2015 Management Plan. Andy Bolander appointed project manager of EDNA. Solstice did make money this year.
Public Input open 8:15
Votruba: Happy to hear Jenks’s ideas on Penfold Park. It’s my favorite park, lots of potential. Offers help. Moved Xmas tree sale to that park in order to generate more traffic, interest in that park. Thanks to Cathy for tremendous work clarifying and clearing things up for Park&Rec. Sue Oseland has great ideas for Farmers’ Mkt outlined in the annual report. Farmers’ Mkt known all over the state, one of the best in the state. Well-run, perfect layout.
Cathy: Thanks to new council members for stepping up and to Jenks and Holmes for their continued service.
Motion by Jenks, seconded by Soper, to adjourn the meeting at 8:15. All ayes. Motion passed.
UPDATE: From Aubrey Parker: “BENZIE COUNTY: We’re hoping to do LIVE election results again tonight like we brought you in 2013, but we need your help! All you need to do is go to your polling place at 8pm after the election has closed and get the final tallies. I can email you a link to a spreadsheet where you can input the numbers. So easy and super awesome to have LIVE data!” According to Parker, who spoke with County Clerk Dawn Olney, Benzie has added 207 registered voters since 2013. The breakdown is as follows: 58 in Almira, 11 in Benzonia, 13 in Blaine, -1 in Colfax, 12 in Crystal, 3 in Frankfort, 17 in Gilmore, 19 in Homestead, 40(!) in Inland, 11 Joyfield, -10 in Lake, 6 in Platte, 27 in Weldon. Thanks for those numbers, Aubrey.
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On November 4, Elbertians and Gilmoreans will have a chance to choose their governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of state, federal and state congressional reps and senators, school board member, county commissioner, supreme court, court of appeals and circuit court judges, and decide 4 ballot measures. The polls, at the old Elberta Library Building, 704 Frankfort Avenue, are open from 7 am to 8 pm tomorrow.
Please vote tomorrow! Examine the sample ballot below to prevent election booth jitters. The candidates for the four open Village council positions are pretty much shoe-ins, with no write-in applications filed, but there are a number of other local races and a few important state and local ballot issues: (1) a referendum on the wolf hunt act (2) a proposal granting the DNR the authority to designate a season for wolf and other game (3) a millage to specifically fund a county drug enforcement officer, a position eliminated under Sheriff Schendel to staff greater road patrol (4) yes or no to a Gilmore/Elberta fire protection millage, which according to the Village council will save the Village’s deficit-laden General Fund about $15K per year. Thank you to our volunteer election workers and Gilmore clerk Sharyn Bower for making democracy happen!