Local Units of Government Meet Together

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President of Schoolcraft, Keith Gunnett explains the village’s position on finances. Sue Hendriksma and Todd Carlin are seated in front of him.

By Sue Moore

In the spirit of cooperation between local governmental units, Schoolcraft school officials have been leading an effort to meet with elected officials on a quarterly basis to share issues and see if there is a way forward.

About two dozen representatives shared dinner and insights at the Village of Schoolcraft’s council chambers on Tuesday, Nov. 20 under the leadership of Superintendent Rusty Stitt. “We are here to work together on a common goal to improve our community. We want to learn and grow together.”

A possible walking trail on W Avenue between Schoolcraft and Vicksburg had Schoolcraft Township Supervisor Don Ulsh pleased to report, “The city of Portage has provided a helping hand in showing us how to work with AEP power company that is putting in an electrical transmission line on the south side of the road. It would be really neat to connect up all these trails in south county.”

Concerns were raised about maintenance and liability. Ulsh replied that these issues will be addressed if the trail seems like it could become a reality. Ulsh said he attends meetings with other county officials and they wonder aloud, “What do you folks have going on down there? It seems there are so many exciting things in the works.”

Land use plans for the village of Schoolcraft are coming together, Village President Keith Gunnett reported. “The big issue is money! How to get it and not end up competing against one another,” he said to others. “It’s a major issue to figure out. Right now we are concentrating on taking care of the water, and the sewer question is down the road a bit. It’s a great thing to work with the school. We are a lot closer than we have ever been – it has tied the community together. Still the question remains, who is going to get the money and for what?”

Village Manager Cheri Lutz said, “We are looking at a strategic approach on how we work with the school. The potential sewer will impact on roads too.” Gunnett said the village is waiting for Wightman & Associates to provide the latest numbers for sewer construction and if a grant from USDA will be approved. “Then we could move ahead with petitioning area businesses and residents on the sewer. We know there are pockets of residents who want service, so we need to include them in the plans.”

Township Treasurer Theresa Scott reminded the assembly that new sewer lines would also mean new roads. Village council member John Stodola asked everyone in the room to use the terms “sanitary sewer and waste water” when referring to these services.

Planning Commission member Jennifer Dorn pointed out that the district is proposing a bond issue to build new buildings. “They should use the moment to help educate the public on how sanitary sewers would benefit both entities.”

The question was raised if both these bond issues could go hand in hand. How would that affect finances? Mike Rochholz surmised that it would run into tax issues and there would need to be some outreach in Lansing to see if this was possible.

Stodola emphasized that we are not alone. “We should get guidance from other communities, in particular rural versus big municipalities.”

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