Happy New Year Media CoverageIn a recent Q&A that I did with On The Ground Battle Creek reporter Jane Simons about the last year and what’s coming up, I reflected that 2020 meant resilience for the County. We were challenged by the pandemic to continue to support our employees and our residents in new and innovative ways, and I’m proud of how we endured, persisted, and succeeded.
Read the interview for what I consider top priorities in 2021, how the budget situation is affecting operations, and what residents can expect from us this year. Highlights from a few boards and committees:A key element to unified law enforcement in Calhoun County is the Calhoun Public Safety Information Alliance Board (aka RMS Board), which held its first 2021 meeting on Jan. 8. In addition to approving minutes, receiving a financial report, and receiving a county IT update, the Board reelected Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker as chair and Chief Deputy Randy Hazel as vice chair for 2021. The newest member of the Board is Sheriff Steve Hinkley.
Also on Jan. 8, the Border Bandits met virtually. This informal gathering of city, village, and county managers/administrators from our surrounding counties allows for the sharing of information across agencies. With leaders from counties including Jackson, Branch, Calhoun, St. Joseph, and Van Buren, we discussed local economic development, COVID-19 response, and other upcoming projects and challenges for 2021.
On Jan. 11, the Marshall Community Credit Union Board began diversity training with the Battle Creek organization Truth and Titus. For the next six months, I’ll participate as a Board member once a month with facilitators to discuss what it takes and what we can do to improve equity across the credit union’s operations.
The Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the Community event, this year focusing on economic development and featuring Battle Creek Unlimited’s President and CEO Joe Sobieralski, on Jan. 12. At this virtual presentation, major projects upcoming in Battle Creek was discussed, including recent growth with Watkins Road Industrial Space, WMU’s College of Aviation and WACO Aircraft Corporation at the airport, and numerous downtown investments, as well as ways Battle Creek Unlimited looks to train, retain, attract, and include talent to the area.
The first meeting for the Calhoun County Consolidated Dispatch Authority (CCCDA or 911 Board) took place virtually on Jan. 12. The Board elected Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker as chair and Sheriff Steve Hinkley as vice chair. Commissioner Frisbie also attended on behalf of the county commission and Jim Dyer as their legal counsel.
On Jan. 12, the Southcentral Michigan Planning Council (SMPC) met virtually. At this meeting, the council approved a new regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, which is required for our region to be eligible for federal economic development project grants. Additionally the council discussed a 2021 work plan, local government assistance and planning activities related to regional broadband and various housing projects, and reviewed Kalamazoo County’s Solid Waste Plan.
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Veterans Affairs Board met virtually. The Board discussed the department’s budget, as well as record digitization efforts and money recently received from the Michigan County Veteran Service Fund. The board discussed eight applications for relief, approving all but one.
On Jan. 14, the Michigan Municipal Services Authority Board and Executive Committee both met virtually. In the administrative report, the Authority heard from Interim CEO Shea Charles updates on the financial management services project and Local Community Stabilization Authority (LCSA) legislative amendments. We also approved a contract for Interim CEO Services to replace Shea Charles, who is leaving to take a position with the city of East Grand Rapids.
The BC CAL/KAL organization released a video that describes how local companies benefit from the County’s Foreign Trade Zone, administered by BC CAL/KAL through an agreement with the City of Battle Creek, its TIFA, and Battle Creek Unlimited. This video is an introduction to the FTZ concept, and specifically describes how Pfizer and DENSO use this invaluable resource to expand business. Watch the video.
Since the last Board of Commissioners meeting, boards of both the South and Northeast Neighborhood Improvement Authorities (NIA) of the City of Marshall met. Communications Manager Lucy Blair sits on both boards on behalf of the county. The County contributes to the efforts of this unique residential economic development incentive tool through our approval of the NIA Development and Tax Increment Financing Plans, which include capture of a portion of the future property tax growth revenues in order to fund the public infrastructure improvements associated with the projects. The South NIA, which includes the land where Alwyn Downs golf course sits and was recently sold to Norfolk Homes, met on Jan. 11 and approved a development agreement between Norfolk Homes and the City of Marshall, infrastructure bids, and bond sales.
All three items were approved by the Marshall City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and the first unit is expected to be complete before the end of 2021. See the City of Marshall’s recent agenda packet for details.
The Northeast NIA also met virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and heard an update from the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority about efforts to work with the city on zoning various parcels of the former State Farm property in Marshall. The board then approved a request to add infrastructure to an already-planned road project in Marshall on East Drive, which will support future development.Calhoun County Board of Commissioners.
At the Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board approved the following items as part of the consent agenda: FY21 Public Health Department grant awards, appointments to the Solid Waste Management Planning Advisory Committee, dust control contract assignment, and a 475(b) Plan Amendment and provider agreement. In new business, the Board,
- Approved four MDOT contracts for the Calhoun County Road Department. These federal aid funded contracts are for road improvement projects on Capital Ave, Morgan Road, Division Drive, and Partello Road.
- Approved a design engineering services contract award for a federal aid funded Raymond Road bridge replacement project
- Approved the application for the 2021 Medical Marijuana Operation and Oversight Grant for the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department
Around the CountyUpdate from the Road DepartmentOperations
- Road Department employees are performing winter maintenance as necessary
- Tree work continues in Marshall and Pennfield Townships
- Boom Mowing is complete in Clarendon, Lee, and Pennfield Townships
- Pothole patching has taken place across the county