The city of Sturgis will move its municipal elections to even-numbered years, following a unanimous vote taken this week by community leaders.
Starting Jan.1, the city will implement the even-year vote, as 2015 will not be an election year. Instead, the next vote to select city commissioners will be decided in 2016.
Consequently, current commissioners whose terms would have expired at the end of 2014 will serve 12 additional months. A public hearing on the matter Wednesday drew no comments.
City Manager Mike Hughes said the measure had been considered for a number of years. The appeal, he said, is an opportunity to improve voter turnout as well as saving money.
A few precincts in Sturgis have consistently seen the lowest voter turnout in the county, and Sturgis officials hope including city commission elections on the ballot with other races – including the presidential in 2016 – will yield a greater number of voters.
Three Rivers Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson has announced he is resigning from the position later this summer.
In a prepared statement, Tomlinson said he will step down around Aug. 1, but a firm date will be set once a replacement has been hired and adequately trained.
Tomlinson, who has spent nearly 30 years in the industry, said philosophical differences over budget allocations played a role in his decision. Since August 2008, Tomlinson has stepped into a variety of roles besides his duties as chief. Those roles include EMS chief, chief emergency manager and chief of buildings and grounds.
Tomlinson said he has too much passion and vision for each of the responsibilities, and not enough resources or ancillary support to fulfill his expectations.
St. Joseph County’s Parks and Recreation Department is pursuing a grant that would offset the purchase cost of a 135-acre piece of land in Burr Oak Township.
Parks and Recreation Department Director John Pence said the property is on the north side of Lafayette Road, between Big Hill and Plumb School roads.
Members of the county’s board of commissioners Tuesday staged a public hearing as part of the grant-application process.
Pence said the county is applying for a property-acquisition grant from the Natural Resources Trust Fund through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. At stake is a grant in excess of $500,000 toward the acquisition of the parcel, owned by Kathleen Templene. The county’s potential 31 percent match would comprise more than $225,000.
He said possible recreational development of the property would be guided by public input. Suggestions he mentioned included parking, restrooms, septic, picnic shelters, trails for hiking, playgrounds, wildlife-habitat restoration, fishing piers and perhaps a beach.
The county will know by December if the grant is approved, Pence said.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and human resources director Elishia Arver have reached an employment agreement that will see the 5 1/2-year employee remain in her current position.
The deal was made official during Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting.
Arver had turned in her letter of resignation earlier this month to county administrator Pat Yoder. Arver said she was offered and had accepted a job as controller and manager of Maple Lawn Medical Care, a senior-care facility in Coldwater.
Based on what Arver was being offered by the Branch County-operated care facility, Yoder helped work out an agreement resulting in an 18 percent raise and more vacation time for Arver.
Specifically, she made $60,890 a year and will now be paid $72,000 annually, as her new job title will include the role of deputy county administrator.
In addition, Arver’s number of vacation days will increase from 15 to 25 annually, Yoder said.
The revised salary and vacation days were consistent with what Arver was offered by Branch County, which owns the nursing and rehabilitation facility.
There’s some good news for county government and municipalities facing road-budget shortfalls in St. Joseph and Cass counties, as the Michigan Legislature has approved $215 million in supplemental road funding.
State Rep. Matt Lori said $100 million of the emergency funds will go to county and municipal governments to deal with deficits as a result of the inordinate amount of snow and freezing temperatures.
The money targets potholes and other repairs to roadways caused by the weather. The other $115 million will go to priority road projects to be announced later.
The Legislature budgeted $412,709 for St. Joseph County, with $295,984 dedicated to the county road commission. Municipalities in the county receiving funds are Burr Oak at $4,523; Centreville, $6,246; Colon, $6,039; Constantine, $9,939; Mendon, $4,904; Sturgis, $45,406; Three Rivers, $32,884; and White Pigeon, $6,784.
The city of Sturgis has reached an agreement to purchase the Wood Motel and its property.
Located near the high-profile intersection of Chicago and Centerville roads, the parcel is being acquired in part through a community development block grant, according to city manager Mike Hughes.
The city plans to demolish the single-level motel and, according to terms of the grant, leave the property vacant for five years.
The grant will pay 70 percent of the $93,000 asking price for the property, leaving the city on the hook for the balance of $27,900.
Hughes said the city would entertain proposals from prospective businesses interested in purchasing and developing the commercially zoned property.