2017-07-06 / News

Clark Township OKs Budget, Hears Update on Internet Push

By Erich T. Doerr

Clark Township trustees approved a $2,897,945 budget Wednesday, June 21, received an update on the push for local broadband internet service, approved crack sealing at the Albert J. Lindberg Airport, and agreed to a new union contract.

The township will have estimated revenues of $3,176,076 in revenue, putting its finances in the black by $278,131.

The township supervisor, clerk, and treasurer will receive a 3% annual pay increase, from $25,605 to $26,373.15. and the two trustee positions will be increased from $2,710 to $2,791.30, in addition to the $75 they receive for each meeting they attend. Officials include

Also approved is a 3%-per-year raise for all township union staff, under a three-year contract with the union.

Those who will be receiving raises include deputy clerk Julie Smith, utility billing clerk Deborah Beukema, deputy treasurer Jennifer Miller, deputy supervisor Walt Wilhide, utility manager Tony Hamel, utility manager Jim Landreville, sewer assistant Ken Bean, maintenance worker Allan Huff, cemetery sexton Tim Bright, and cleaning employee Michelle Hoey. The raises became effective Saturday, July 1. The new contract also adds President’s Day as a holiday.

A similar raise was approved for non-union employees on the recommendation of Clerk Susie Rutledge.

The township is working with Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District to bring high-speed broadband Internet service to the region. Supervisor Gary Reid said residents are being praised for a high rate of filling out and returning surveys on the topic.

“I think that we are shining as far as our part of that business plan,” Mr. Reid said, noting the effort looks to be moving more quickly in its work to get the necessary infrastructure in place. “That would have a tremendous economic impact for our area.”

Mr. Reid said if the township could bring broadband to the area, it would help get its visitors to come more often and stay longer. It would also open up new business opportunities and allow some employees to telecommute.

The township received three bids for the upcoming work at the Clark Township Community Center on East M-134 in Cedarville. The work will include redoing the structure’s exterior siding along with adding fascia and louvered vents. The contract was awarded to Whiskey River, Inc. of Rudyard for $35,100, including all materials, with a guarantee of finishing the project within 60 days. The other two bids did not include materials. Wilcox Construction of Cedarville offered to do the job for $22,250 and finish by the end of October and Ray Halberg Construction of St. Ignace bid $22,300 with completion by October 1.

Mrs. Rutledge said all local firms in the area that could carry out the work were contacted to bid. Mr. Reid suggested another improvement at the center could be the removal of a bulletin board at the property, as it often appears cluttered and little is posted on it besides notifications for yard sales.

Mr. Reid said he has received no further guidance from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding the township’s sewer lagoons. The DEQ has asked the township to install monitoring wells at the lagoons to check underneath the membrane lining their bottoms for leaks, but he believes the township can provide

“reasonable and prudent” alternative plans, since it already has ways to access the area underneath them. Mr. Reid expects that all townships will have to step up their water support monitoring efforts in the wake of the Flint water crisis and believes tighter restrictions will cost the township an additional $1,000 a month to conduct the necessary laboratory work the state wants to assure the safety of the water.

Mrs. Rutledge reported that the township has received a correspondence from the DEQ giving the Hill Island Bridge project the go-ahead. The $750,000 project will replace the existing bridge, built in 1938.

Treasurer Jason Sherlund reported residents should have received tax bills by July 1. The township is working with software company BS&A to make it possible for people to pay taxes, sewer, and marina charges online with credit cards. The goal is for the program to be ready to use within the next six weeks.

The township’s planning commission is continuing work on the development of a new township ordinance to regulate short-term vacation rentals. The discussion saw the board suggesting it may also need an ordinance looking at fireworks and noise regulations. There has been concern in the Les Cheneaux about visitors who use fireworks unsafely, especially when in close proximity to dry wooded areas. Mr. Reid said the rowdiness is not in keeping with the quiet Les Cheneaux character. The fireworks issue will be brought up with the planning commission in July.

The board direcgted airport supervisor Joe Baker to sign a contract for crack sealing repairs on the Albert J. Lindberg Airport runway in Hessel. The $7,200 project is being split between the township and state. Mr. Reid said the airport lease ends in early 2018 and will need renewal with the overhauls needed before that. The township will make its final recommendations about the airport in July.

The board approved a service contract with the Inland Seas Ed- ucation Association for its schooner Inland Seas to dock at a concrete pier at the Hessel Marina Monday, July 10, and Tuesday, July 11. The vessel will be used for running Great Lakes education programs during its visit. The Les Cheneaux Watershed Council is sponsoring the visit.

Fire Department chief administrative officer Jack Otstot reported that the Clark Township Volunteer Fire Department is seeking federal funds to acquire an infrared detection system for its fireboat.

The township has been offered the chance to buy a small piece of property in Cedarville behind Dan’s Barber Shop, including its submerged bottomlands area. The property is adjacent to a community park that has day docking facilities. A private dock is already on the property. Mr. Reid suggested the township could seek state funds but it will need to spend $1,600 for an appraisal first. The board approved undertaking the appraisal.

The M-134-focused North Huron Scenic Byway Advisory Committee sent the board a recommendation that it widen the shoulders along the road to include bike lanes running from I-75 through DeTour Village and to the Four Corners on Drummond Island during the next time the road is resurfaced. The board passed the recommendation unanimously and will send the suggestion on to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). If the bike lanes are added, their markings would be done to MDOT standards.

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