The Calhoun County Legislative Breakfast took place on Friday last week. This was our 14th annual event, led primarily by the leadership of Brenda Hunt, CEO of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, and other partners. I was asked to moderate the virtual conversation between local nonprofit leaders and elected officials on health, education, and housing, with a focus on racial disparities which were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. This public policy discussion provided an opportunity for local subject-matter experts to highlight Calhoun County initiatives and ask State Senator John Bizon and Representative Jim Haadsma for their responses. We also were honored to welcome as special guest speaker Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, and had a chance to hear from U.S. Senator Gary Peters. Watch the program on Youtube here.Here is what else is going on in Calhoun County:On August 13, the Michigan Municipal Services Authority (MMSA) Executive Committee met. While no actions were taken in this meeting, the Board did discuss updates from CEO Shea Charles on our consulting contract with the City of Flint and other ongoing projects to assist local governments through shared services arrangements.
Also on Aug. 13, I participated in a webinar by the Michigan Department of Treasury about COVID-19 Updates and Resources for Local Governments. The Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Association of Townships have jointly sponsored several in a series of these webinars just to keep local leaders updated with COVID-19 related funding opportunities and state budget issues.
The Battle Creek Rotary Club Board met Aug. 14. I provided a preliminary FY2020 year-end treasurer’s report, noting that membership is down partly due to COVID-19, which has affected the Club’s revenue sources. New President Ron Monte and our committees are working on membership initiatives as well as community service opportunities .
On Aug. 17 the Calhoun County Board of Public Health met and approved its FY21 budget beginning October 1, which will go to the Board of Commissioners next month. Significant changes include increased funding for COVID-19 contact tracing and added resources within two of our school districts for the County’s school wellness program.
Also on Aug. 17, the Marshall Community Credit Union Board met. At this meeting we discussed the establishment of a new committee that I will participate in, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This new committee met for the first time on Aug. 20.
On Aug. 18, the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) met to review FY21 Compliance Plan and Cost Analyses, including Calhoun County’s, which was not yet approved and will require adjustments before the next meeting in October. Currently, State laws require the County’s Public Defender Office to meet service standards set forth by the MIDC, at a local cost equal to a 3-year average set a few years ago, with the State covering all additional costs. The impact of COVID-19 related State budget reductions on this funding is unknown at this point. Calhoun County Board of Commissioners
At the Thursday, Aug. 20 Board of Commissioners meeting, Senior Services awarded the 2020 Joanne Konkle Lifetime Achievement Award in Providing Senior Services to Jolene English. As part of the consent agenda, the Board approved a revised tax levy resolution that includes the new parks millage to be levied this coming Winter, renewal of 2021 Retiree Health Care Plans that both include 18% reductions in cost, the placement in personnel files of last month’s performance evaluation for the Administrator/Controller, and appointment of Dr. Tino Smith to the Community Mental Health Authority (Summit Pointe) Board of Directors. In new business, the Board,
- Approved a 2019 Lake Level Capital Project Fund Deficit Elimination Plan
- Approved Senior Millage Supplemental funding of Community Action’s Minor Home Repair program
- Approved an Albion Trailhead Development Grant Agreement
- Approved a revision to Policy #340–Employee Benefits
- Approved a staffing increase for the Public Health Department’s School Wellness Program to prepare for the 2020-21 school year
- Approved school wellness grants from the Binda and Miller Foundations
- Approved a grant application for the FY21 County Veteran Service Fund
Around the CountyUpdate from the Road DepartmentOperations update:
- The county’s chip seal program is well underway
- Durapatchers are working in Convis and Newton Township
- Boom mowing is complete in Emmett, Marengo, and Sheridan Townships
- Boom mowing is taking place on M60, per our contract with MDOT
- Berm removal is complete in Sheridan and Marengo Townships
- A second round of brine application will start this week in Athens Township
- 19 Mile Road in Marengo Township was paved today
- Top course of Bellevue Road was paved today
- Partello Road was chip sealed today
- The Union City Road Phase 2 project will be paved in the next two weeks
- The Emmett Township Local Road Project is proceeding as planned
Update from the Census CommitteeIn an extended campaign to encourage Calhoun County residents to fill out their 2020 Census form, the Calhoun County Census Committee is making its final push this upcoming month. We want to encourage households to complete their Census form to ensure a complete count for our community. Here’s how you can be active in local Census promotion:
Visit our website for easy resources to encourage your friends and family to fill out their Census forms. We provide social media “assets” or graphics, as well as the text to go with them, so that it’s easy and customizable to post on your social media about the 2020 Census. An easy link is, calhouncountymi.gov/census.
Watch this video, below, that shows how Census data impacts our community. Produced by a local marketing agency, this video focuses on Calhoun County specifically to hopefully better illustrate how this information impacts our everyday lives, and the lives of our neighbors.
Find us at the Battle Creek Farmer’s Market in September: We will be providing 2020 Census swag, showing the video below, and providing the resources folks need to respond to their questionnaire online. We will also sanitize the computers between each use to ensure we aren’t spreading COVID-19.