May 20, 2021 | Albion, MI | Calhoun County Administrator – Mask Rules Ease for Fully VaccinatedFollowing the May 13 updated guidance from the CDC, and corresponding change to the MDHHS Masks & Gatherings Order, the County will no longer require individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to wear face coverings, in most County buildings. This ease in restrictions is being made with support from our County Public Health Officer, who stresses that the vaccine’s efficacy is clear: Individuals who are vaccinated are significantly less likely to contract the virus, and if they do, less likely to become severely ill. The policy change is hoped to encourage more county employees and our residents to become vaccinated, while continuing to provide protection against the spread of COVID-19.
Visitors and employees of the Calhoun County Courts are still required to wear masks regardless of vaccine status until the Michigan State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) changes its operational guidance.
For those not fully vaccinated, face coverings and social distancing remain a requirement within all County-owned facilities under current state orders, and these safety options are available to all of us based on our individual health and comfort levels.
The County is updating its building signage and will post updated policies after incorporating any other changes that may come from MIOSHA’s new emergency rule, expected next Monday, May 24.
Visit calhouncountymi.gov/covidvaccine for information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Calhoun County.Highlights from a few boards and committees:The U.S. Treasury Department released last week preliminary guidance for local governments’ use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, which will be distributed to counties by the end of May. I have attended numerous workshops and webinars about ARPA to help decipher many aspects of the 150-page Interim Final Rule, which will be finalized in mid-July after public comment.
On May 11 and May 20, the National Association of Counties (NaCO) held membership calls about implementing ARPA guidelines. On May 19, I attended a webinar by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) called “What you need to know about ARPA: Funding for State and Local Governments.” These educational sessions provide valuable Q&A time as well as emerging clarifications being provided by the federal government on a daily basis. Calhoun County’s allocation of this stimulus funding is $26 million, to be invested in one-time initiatives between now and December 31, 2024.
On May 11, the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau (CVB) Board met virtually and discussed the impact of COVID-19 testing on youth sports events and the restart of sales trips by staff. The Board approved support for the former McCamly Hotel Renovations, which are being done by Battle Creek Unlimited.
The Calhoun County Veterans Affairs Committee met virtually on May 12 and began a discussion about the 2022 millage renewal. Additionally, the Committee reviewed veterans relief applications, approving one.
The FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB) met virtually on May 14 and approved the distribution of Tier 1 and Tier 2 funds, which go to Emmett Township, Athens Township, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, and finally County Administration for administrative services provided to this board. The Board also approved its 2021 budget. The Net Win revenue payment was down 16% due to the pandemic last year and closure of the casino.
Also on May 14, County elected officials, department heads, and court supervisors participated in the second Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training session. At this meeting, participants learned about how various elements of a person’s social identity impact how they see themselves or are treated by others. Feedback about these sessions from staff has been positive and we look forward to working on these issues in order to best serve the community.
The monthly Board of Public Health meeting took place Monday, May 17 virtually. At this meeting, Deputy Controller Megan Banning provided an overview of the Health Department’s budget, which reflects numerous COVID-19 grants coming in, as well as related costs for vaccine clinics. Health Officer Eric Pessell shared that COVID-19 community spread numbers are down in Calhoun County, and he urged the Board to share with friends and family the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Also on May 17, a monthly Marshall Community Credit Union Board meeting took place virtually. It was our annual organizational meeting and so actions included the election of officers and approval of numerous required policy matters. We also heard from staff the annual cybersecurity review results and approved an employee benefits pre-funding strategy.
I attended a Michigan Association of Counties’ 83 Live Podcast on May 17. For this episode, the hosts discussed legislative priorities including passage of the proposed legislation to lengthen county commissioners’ terms from two to four years.
The Marshall Area Economic and Development Alliance (MAEDA) met on May 18. At this meeting, the board reviewed a draft budget for FY2021-2022 and heard updates from the various subcommittees, including Chamber Community Engagement and Business Acceleration Services. City Manager Tom Tarkiewicz also provided updates about what’s going on in the City of Marshall.
The first meeting of the Calhoun County Broadband Task Force met virtually on May 18. This was an introductory meeting for members to meet one another and generally discuss goals and objectives. The next steps for this task force include conducting a study regarding access to broadband with the Michigan Merit Network, for which there’s already a contract in place. Willard Library’s Mac McCullough is chairing the task force and County Communications Manager Lucy Blair is staffing their efforts.
Calhoun County Board of Commissioners
At the May 20 Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board approved local road agreements between the Calhoun County Road Department and the following townships, Athens, Convis, Eckford, Fredonia, Marengo, Marshall, and Pennfield Townships. To see what work is being done where, visit the CCRD’s Current Construction page. Also on the consent agenda, the Board approved an engineering reimbursement from MDOT.In new business, the Board approved,
- a contract with GovPros for countywide credit card payment processing, which will lower the convenience fees charged to those choosing to make payments online for various Calhoun County obligations and optional services
- a construction contract with Hoffman Brothers for the Albion Trailhead Construction
- a change in the main banking depository for Calhoun County: The Treasurer’s Office recommended Southern Michigan Bank & Trust after a competitive review
- the county’s April 2021 financials
Around the CountyUpdate from the Road DepartmentEngineering update:
- As part of the Emmett Township Local Road Project, work is taking place in the township’s portion of the Post Addition neighborhood, the Hayes & Westbrook subdivisions off of Raymond Road, and Woodland Beach around Beadle Lake; Click here for information about this project
- The federal aid project on Division Drive from Clark St. to the Jackson County Line is likely to begin next week; this project will include trenching, widening, and overlaying with fiber-reinforced HMA
- Preparation has begun for other federal aid projects including Capital Ave SW in Leroy Township and the Partello Road Phase II project in Marengo Township
- Preparation work is nearly complete for local projects countywide
Visit the CCRD website for all planned 2021 construction projects
- Contract pothole patching is taking place on the east side of Calhoun County
- Gravel road maintenance is ongoing
- Durapatchers are prepping for local road projects in Convis and Marshall Townships
- Boom mowers are working in Clarence and Clarendon Townships
- Shoulder work has taken place countywide
- Contractor pothole patching has begun for 2021, and teams are currently working in Leroy and Burlington Townships