Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

Council Contemplates Selling Old Library…And Much, Much More

In Breaking, Community Alert, E Beach, Fishing, Gov't Watch, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Politics, Public Safety on August 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm

It was another nearly three hour meeting, with lots of decisions made and some deferred. President Reggie Manville was back, after a three-meeting absence. Employee benefits were discussed and a vote was taken on Linda Manville’s proposal that employees begin contributing 20% toward their health-care premiums. This motion was voted down three to two (Reggie Manville, Ken Holmes, and Joyce Gatrell voted no; Diane Jenks and Linda Manville voted yes). Absent from this meeting were Jennifer Wilkins and Matt Stapleton. The question of whether Reggie Manville, a member of the employee relations committee and the husband of one of the employees, Laura Manville, should have recused himself from the vote due to conflict of interest.

Corey Toms, the new DPW assistant, will start work on Monday. Apparently there was some communication glitch whereby no one formally told Toms he had been hired right away, so instead of starting in two weeks from the hire date, it will be three.

The safety/parking situation along M-22, especially near the Duck’s Head, was discussed. A preliminary plan was drawn up to create better visibility from side streets entering 22. Council discussed asking MDOT to reduce the speed limit to 25 through the Village and add crosswalks.

Council voted to get a commercial appraisal and survey of the Old Library Building and its lot in preparation for possibly selling it. This evening’s meeting was actually a public hearing on that subject, but no notice was posted in the post office, just in the Record-Patriot, and only the usual-suspect members of the public were present for discussion. Joyce Gatrell herself, a member of the municipal buildings committee, seemed confused at the beginning of the meeting, saying she didn’t know the hearing was tonight.

More listener notes to come …. —Emily Votruba

More Fireworks!

In Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, E Beach, Law & Order, Our Men and Women in Uniform, Public Safety on June 25, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 5.05.44 PM

County Recycling Coordinator Caught Up in Driver Responsibility Act Mess

In Breaking, Community Alert, Elsewhere in BenCo..., Gov't Watch, Green Elbertians, Law & Order, Public Safety, Transportation, Uncategorized on June 17, 2013 at 4:50 pm

By Emily Votruba

County Recycling Coordinator Mike Fiebing was pulled over in his personal vehicle on Wednesday June 5 for having a cracked windshield—a routine traffic stop, according to Sheriff Ted Schendel. Schendel told the Alert that when the officer ran Fiebing’s license record the license was found to have been suspended, and the record showed that it had been suspended more than once. Fiebing was arrested and taken to jail; he posted bond, and the case was referred to the prosecutor.

The arraignment was Thursday June 13 at 9 am. “Having an employee driving a county vehicle without a valid license places a huge liability on the county,” the Sheriff told the Alert that morning. The question is whether Fiebing had been knowingly operating the county vehicle with a suspended license.

According to county prosecutor Sara Mason, Fiebing was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. “There was a Second or Subsequent Offense notice, meaning he has been previously convicted of this. His prior conviction was Read the rest of this entry »

March Elberta Council Meeting Report: Holier Than Thou

In Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics, Public Safety, Village Money Situation on April 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

By Emily Votruba

VILLAGE COMMUNITY BUILDING March 21, 2013—Sharyn Bower announced that the County Board of Commissioners would be holding their regular meeting at the Village Community Building on April 16 at 6 pm as part of their tour around the county. The Planning Commission will hold two public hearings before their regular meeting, also on April 16, beginning at 7 pm in the Library. The first hearing concerns the definition of “apartment” the commission wants to add to the zoning ordinance and to add apartments to the C1 Commerical District as a special use. The second hearing is to receive public comment on Loy Putney’s special use permit application and site plan for his Bay Valley Inn building project. Before the regular council meeting on April 18, beginning at 7 pm, there will be a public hearing on the proposed new Recreation Plan.

Ken Holmes asked for an agenda addition, to discuss who has the authority to speak with the Village attorney.

PUBLIC COMMENT District 7 county commissioner Don Tanner had just come back from the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) conference. He’d urged our legislators to vote for the Medicaid expansion bill and to set up a health exchange for Michigan. He spoke with Darwin Booher (state senator, 35th District), Howard Walker (state senator, 37th District), and Wayne Schmidt (state house, 104th District)—“Ray Franz was nowhere to be found.” Read the rest of this entry »

February Elberta Council Meeting Report: Same Playing Field

In Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics, Public Safety, Village Money Situation on March 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

By Emily Votruba

VILLAGE COMMUNITY BUILDING, February 20, 2013—A date and the spelling of Jennifer Wilkins’s name were corrected on the January meeting minutes. Wilkins’s name was also added to the agenda under the Beach Committee report, as she is a new member of that committee.

PUBLIC HEARING ON 2013–14 BUDGET The trustees reviewed the proposed budget for 2013–14 and heard public comment. Two budget meetings were held (January 16 and 23), attended by Budget Committee members Laura Manville (Village Treasurer), Sharyn Bower (Village Clerk), Reggie Manville (Village President), and Jennifer Wilkins (Trustee), along with DPW head Ken Bonney and Emily Votruba (member of public).

The bulk of the budget hearing was spent discussing repairs and renovations to the Life Saving Station (LSS). Council reviewed the Budget Committee’s recommendation of $9,000 for repairs and maintenance in the Waterfront Park. According to Laura, and to Sharyn’s minutes for the February meeting, the work done by Ross Thorsen and a few other residents, some paid and some volunteer, went over budget last year by over $15,000; the budget was $12,000 and there is now a negative cash balance in that fund of some $10,000. Read the rest of this entry »

Public Safety Committee Report: Drug Dealers, Stay out of Benzie

In Crime, Law & Order, Public Safety on March 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

By Bob Kenison

March 21, 2013

BENZIE COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT—Last week Sheriff Ted Schendel held his third public safety meeting since becoming sheriff of Benzie County in January. The meetings are open to the public, and are held the third Thursday of each month. People are encouraged to attend and find out what is happening in Benzie County law enforcement and to share their concerns and opinions. Sheriff Schendel has promised a transparent department that works for the public.

In contrast to the first meeting, in which spirited conversations were held pertaining to new gun laws and the sheriff’s public statements on Facebook and TV news that he would not uphold these new laws, few people showed up for this meeting.

In response to a suggestion at last month’s meeting, a drug drop box is being installed in the sheriff station’s lobby. This can be used to dispose of any drugs, prescription or illegal—no questions asked. Sheriff Schendel noted that sometimes parents find illegal drugs in the hands of their children. This is an easy way to dispose of these drugs and remain anonymous. Most of the county is on a septic system, and disposing of these drugs by flushing them down the toilet could result in contaminated drinking water.

There will be a county commissioners meeting on Tuesday, March 26 at 9 a.m. Sheriff Schendel will be asking the commission to add 5 new deputies to allow for 24/7 police protection for county residents. He has a number of concerned citizens coming to speak on behalf of the sheriff’s department in this regard. Having 24/7 protection is a concern of many area residents. There will also likely be discussion of the new property maintenance ordinance. This will sure to be a lively meeting!

Sheriff Schendel noted that since he took office, Benzie County has had two major drug arrests. One of these arrests was a repeat offender caught with over $5,000 worth of crack cocaine headed for Benzie County. The other was the arrest of Trevor Moody of Frankfort, found with heroin, methadone, and marijuana. An unregistered gun was also found in this arrest. Moody lives just 400 feet from the elementary school.

When campaigning for Sheriff, Schendel vowed to crack down on the drug problem in Benzie County. “These efforts will continue, and drug dealers are being put on notice to leave Benzie County, or spend time in my jail.”

In other news, a Coast Guard representative at the meeting said fishing is already taking place in Betsie Lake, and the Coast Guard boat is tuned up and ready to take to the water. He indicated the sequester will have no impact on the Coast Guard. Sheriff Schendel also indicated the sequester would have no impact on county law enforcement, but will impact the Sleeping Bear Dunes to some degree with shorter hours, and some possible rotating closings of areas of the park.

The next public safety meeting will be held on Thursday, April 18, at 6 p.m. in the sheriff’s office. Stop by and get involved!

News from Homestead Township

In Elsewhere in BenCo..., Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Public Safety on March 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm

By Jeffery D. Stratton

The Homestead Township board of trustees met March 4, 2013, at 7 pm in the Township Hall in the Village of Honor. The meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call, approval of the agenda, and the approval of last month’s minutes.


The board only received one bid for the township park maintenance contract for this year. They tabled a decision on that bid until the next meeting, in April.

The township sexton is asking for a pay increase of $50 for all the service that he currently offers. His contract ends May 7, 2013. The position will be put out for bid in April. This position is a four-year contract with the township.

The board is seeking someone to run the concession stand at the ball fields for the 2013 session. Concessioners pay a one-time fee of $375 but otherwise keep any proceeds. The concession booth “rent” fee is used to test the water in the well site. The well is shut down at the end of each season and has to be retested each year before the concession can be used.

The board, which is made up of people who are mostly new to board membership, went over the new year’s business for 2013, including meeting dates, Robert’s Rules of Order, who will make deposits for the township, and truth in taxation.

The board looked at the one bid for maintaining the large ball field. It was from Northern Green Lawn for $838. Northern Green Lawn has done this for the township for years. The board decided to hold off until April’s meeting to award this bid, since the newspaper ad said people had until March 5 to get bids in.

OLD BUSINESS No one had yet volunteered to be on the township park board.

The fire department’s mutual aid agreement was on hold again. The board asked that some of the language in the agreement be changed or added. They want a 30-day review if the ambulance was going to be stored at the township fire hall for more than 30 days for whatever reason. Also they wanted a definition of “short-term.”

Ambulance numbers are up for January and February due to flu season. County EMS is getting a new ambulance in the next few weeks as well.

By role-call vote of 3 for and 2 against, the board gave the go-ahead for the fire department to go after bids for a new pumper truck. This does not mean that the fire department is OK’d to purchase the truck at this time. The bids for the new tanker must be in by the next April’s board meeting.

The reason for the hesitation of the board’s part was they felt the fire department was falling apart with the fact that firemen keep leaving the department and with morale issues with the chief.

Research was still being done on the air packs and there was nothing to report.

The Township Hall contract was tabled.

The township moved a certificate of deposit of $104K to the Central State Bank.

The township cleanup day was going to continue this year as usual. There was some discussion by the board to limit this event to every other year, to charge a fee, or not to do it at all. This event costs an average of $8K–$9K to put on each year. One board member thought we could better utilize this money for other projects. Another board member felt this was the only thing that the township did for the people of the township. There will be a survey in the summer tax bill about this annual event.


PUBLIC COMMENT  Jeffrey Stratton had some questions for the board about the fire tanker and the township cleanup.


JDS: Does the fire department have the money to purchase this new tanker?


Homestead Township Board: Yes. We voted on a millage for $65K over the next 6 years to help purchase this new tanker for the department.


JDS: Does the fire department have any capital reverses for the purchase of this new tanker?


HTB: Yes. They currently have $100K in an account for equipment replacement and repair. Plus the $65K from the millage that has been collected to date—a total of $165K so far for the purchase of a new tanker.


JDS: What is the cost roughly of this new tanker?


HTB: About $250K. Since they do not have that full amount they would have to apply for a loan to pay for the tanker, until all the monies have been collected from the millage.


JDS: So I do not understand why the fire department is not getting the go ahead to purchase the new tanker? Why was there even any discussion about this, once all the bids have been received in April? They have some of the money and the voters approved the millage for the rest.


Stratton told them about the upcoming event in Traverse City March 10, put on by Michigan Green Consortium, to which he belongs, at the American Waste facility on Hughes Drive. This is a free event and anyone can bring trash there for disposal. This event happens twice a year when there is a time change in the spring and fall. The board hadn’t heard of this event.


JDS: My question to you is why start charging for the township cleanup event? You are already using taxpayer money to do this. Do you think that will get people to come? My neighbors just throw their garbage out in their yard and in the woods, which I can see from my house. If they can’t pay for garbage pickup now, how are they going to pay for this? Have you not looked at Google Maps lately? There is trash everywhere.


HTB: We are hoping they will not do these things and will get rid of it here [at the cleanup]. Again if they don’t participate then we could use the money somewhere else. We have a trash ordinance but we don’t enforce it because of the attorney fees.


The meeting was adjourned around 9 pm. . Ψ

News from Homestead Township

In Elsewhere in BenCo..., Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Public Safety on February 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm

By Jeffery D. Stratton

The Homestead Township board met February 4, 2013, at 7 pm in the township hall in the Village of Honor. The meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call, approval of the agenda, and the approval of last month’s minutes.

PUBLIC COMMENT Eagle Scout Travis Oder, who is working on a badge, presented a project to the board to clean up the Homestead Township Park. He would power wash the bleachers, and paint and stain them where needed. He asked the board for their help in providing the necessary items to make this happen. The Board, who are in the process of doing the budget, said they would get back to him.

NEW BUSINESS The fire department presented a new fire protection agreement with Platte Township. Homestead Township will continue to provide fire service protection for Platte.

The fire department asked the board to look over a request for bids to purchase a new tanker/pumper truck at an estimated cost of $240K–$280K. The current truck has many mechanical issues: leaking tank, underpowered engine, and braking issues.

The fire department is also looking to replace their air pack systems for breathing in a burning house. Currently they have 14 air packs bought in 1998 and would like to replace them with more current and safe systems. The old units weigh 29 lbs. and the newer units weigh 14 lbs.

The board reviewed their current wages. The Clerk and Treasurer would be getting a 2% pay increase since they have not had an increase in a few years. The Supervisor declined her increase because she felt that since she was new to the board that it was not warranted at this time. The board trustees would not be receiving an increase at this time.

The Village of Honor came to the township board asking if the board would be willing to help with the issue of the ? (“Wonderland”) building. The building has been condemned and the Village is still in litigation with the property owner.

The township board is currently looking for people to sit on the Parks Board. These positions are strictly volunteer.

OLD BUSINESS The board is still looking for a grant for a generator to power the fire department in case of power failure.

The board is reviewing whether to allow the hall to be rented for commercial events. Currently township residents can use the hall for free for things such as weddings and graduations.

Habitat for Humanity has removed all the old cupboards and doors from the rental house next to the township hall. The fire department will be using it as a training building on February 20. The house was bought for future expansion to the current facility.

The fire department has a 1953 fire truck they wish to sell. They still are trying to research the value of the truck as it is before they put it up for sale.

The meeting was adjourned around 9pm. Ψ