Village Council Debates Medical Marijuana Dispensary

By Sue Moore

A medical marijuana provision center for Vicksburg was proposed by Sue Bond, a Grand Rapids paralegal, who said she has 13 locations right now in Kent County for her dispensary. She would like permission to open a shop in Vicksburg to minister to patients with a doctor’s prescription. She would hook the patients up with local growers so they receive the correct strain of marijuana for their illness.

Ken Schippers, village manager, said he would investigate further, but made no promises to bring the issue up again. He later made this statement to the South County News:

“Due to the fact that marijuana has not yet been legalized in the State of Michigan and due to the fact marijuana is against federal law to sell or distribute in the State of Michigan, the village will not entertain the sale or use of it. Once dispensaries get fully legalized, the village will review this issue at that time.”

Nonprofits Explain Their Needs for Increased Donations

The Vicksburg District Library, the Vicksburg Historical Society, and the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) all presented their compelling need for funds to the village council at its August meeting. Since the village budget for 2015-16 was already reviewed and passed in June, the representatives of these three entities were not there to request money immediately, but mostly to inform the council of future needs.

The DDA through the efforts of Kathleen Hoyle, the executive director, has the most ambitious plan with its recently-launched $2.3 million capital campaign. Hoyle explained the need is for matching funds for the many projects that will be funded through grants from outside agencies, such as the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), several foundations and individual giving.

The major portion of the $2.3 million needs to be raised by November to match the two big grants for the proposed trail through the village, Hoyle explained. The remainder can come later as the funding for streetscapes and parking lots are expected to be redone in 2016-17. Some of the matching funds can come from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) that the DDA is entitled to through its enhanced boundary lines. The council is off the hook until then, Hoyle told the group.

John Sheridan, library director, explained the need to upgrade computer systems, roofing, phone system, carpeting, front stair steps, and the furnace. The total cost comes to an estimated $209,000, he said, with the bulk of the money coming from grants and replacement funds that the library has put aside. Since the village council meets at the library these days, they are somewhat familiar with the need, Village President Bill Adams said.

Not to be left out of the mix, Ted Vliek, president of the Historical Society, mentioned the drive for membership to help offset the cost of everyday expenditures. The board was just notified of a large donation that they are looking to match for its endowment fund. This will mean a steadier income from its dividends, he said.

The Historical Society has raised $8,000 in donations to pay for its Historic Footprints project. They have placed bronze plaques on five historic buildings in the area, and have long-range plans for 20-25 more sites.

All three of these respected nonprofits in the Vicksburg community will be asking for funds from individuals and businesses over the next few months, along with United Way which was not represented at the meeting.

Other Business Discussed

The council was updated on the condition of the various lift station pumps and their need to be replaced or upgraded. Most of the money for this has been included in the 2015-16 village budget he explained. The potential to connect up with the South West Sewer Authority’s proposal to build sewers around Barton and Sugarloaf Lakes will be discussed at the September 14 council’s work session, Schippers informed the members.

The council reviewed the proposed ordinance changes for downtown. They voiced some questions and wanted more time to read the long documents. The questions will be sent back to the planning commission for any revisions. The proposed ordinances will need to be reviewed by the village attorney before they come back to the council for final approval.

In other action, the board approved the license for Dane Bozell’s Distant Whistle microbrewery that he expects to open on 125 E. Prairie Street in the fall.

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