<![CDATA[The Ticker]]> http://www.traverseticker.com Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:57:35 -0400 <![CDATA[Three Candidates Emerge For County Administrator]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/three-candidates-emerge-for-county-administrator Grand Traverse County commissioners will interview three candidates for the position of county administrator after a search firm assisted the board with narrowing a field of 45 applications down to a handful of finalists.

Commissioners met Wednesday with Vice President Jaymes Vettraino of search firm GovHR USA to discuss the finalists and identify candidates they wanted to invite for in-person interviews. Vettraino told the board a total of 45 applications were submitted from 14 states for the county’s top position, which will be vacated by retiring County Administrator Tom Menzel at the end of 2017.

After reviewing each application, GovHR USA pared the candidates down to 35 who met minimum qualification requirements and then conducted further assessments – including Skype interviews, social media and light background checks, and reference calls – to present five recommended finalists to the board.

Commissioners referred to candidates by number instead of name while discussing them during Wednesday’s meeting. But full biographical and resume details on each candidate were shared with the board, and were also obtained by The Ticker through a Freedom of Information Act request. Commissioners acknowledged Googling candidates’ resumes to find out their identities and referred to background details on candidates during their discussion. Both Vettraino and Chair Carol Crawford noted candidates would no longer have an expectation of privacy heading into the public interview stage. “They know they’re out here at this level,” Crawford said.

After voting on their top candidates using an informal straw poll, commissioners decided to invite three finalists for public interviews. Those candidates include:

Joe Pandy (Indiana) – Pandy has been the general manager of Peru Utilities – a $34 million/year municipally-owned utility in Peru, Indiana – since May 2016. Prior to working at Peru Utilities, Pandy managed two rural electric cooperatives in Colorado and Texas and two other municipal utilities in Lansing, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio. He has a B.S. Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering degree from Illinois Institute of Technology and M.B.A. from Ohio University, as well as a minor degree in Natural Gas Technology from the Gas Technology Institute in Chicago.

Pandy wrote in his application that his sons attend Gaylord St. Mary High School and that the “Grand Traverse County location is highly desirable for me and my family, as we frequently spend time in the Traverse City area.” He noted that in addition to his municipal and utility leadership experience, he has “proven experience in economic development projects, having been vice-chair of the Greater Lansing Economic Development Commission (EDC) and Tax Increment Financing Authority and chaired the Chambers of Commerce in three communities.”

Colonel Thomas Perison (Michigan) – Currently a contract project co-lead at the Michigan Defense Center/Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Perison served as the garrison commander at Camp Grayling Joint Military Training Center from 2014 to 2016. He also served as the chief of training and education at Army National Guard Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and was a military assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon. He was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq and has a Master of Science (Strategic Studies) from the U.S. Army War College and a Master of Science (Engineering Management) from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Perison wrote that his expertise includes “installation/city and project management, organizational leadership, economic development, strategic planning and community engagement.” He said he has led “large, geographically dispersed organizations exceeding 600 people” and managed budgets of $2.2 billion. “The Camp Grayling, Michigan military base functions closely align with that of a county administrator,” Perison wrote. “I believe I can add value to Grand Traverse County and excel as its next administrator.”

Erik Tungate (Michigan) – Tungate has served as the city manager of Oak Park, Michigan since 2012. Prior to that, role, he served as acting city manager of Hamtramck, development officer for Wayne County and a senior project manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. He has a Bachelor of General Business from Western Michigan University and a M.B.A. from Wayne State University.

Tungate wrote that in the course of his career, he has “been responsible for overseeing and initiating complex management assignments and numerous economic development projects at the state, county and local level of government.” In Oak Park, Tungate is responsible for a $20 million budget, 191 full-time employees and 236 total employees, “including the state of Michigan’s first fully functioning public safety department.” He pointed to “strong financial management skills proven by creating economic restructuring plans for two separate municipalities in the metropolitan Detroit area, dealing with complex financial issues,” saying he believed his skills “would be an asset to the people of Grand Traverse County.”

Vettraino said he would contact the three candidates this week to notify them of their interview invitations and coordinate with commissioners on an interview schedule, tentatively set for late July. Commissioners should plan on 45-60 minutes with each candidate during the interview process, Vettraino said. Commissioners agreed to ask a combination of a small number of prepared questions candidates would know in advance and off-the-cuff questions from the board during each interview. GovHR USA will provide formal background checks on all candidates and assist commissioners with an employment offer to the final candidate.

Up to two more candidates could also be added to the interview process at a later date. Commissioners Tom Mair and Cheryl Gore Follette each mentioned candidates whose resumes had been eliminated early on, but whom they believed should be interviewed. Rather than discuss the reasons for the candidates’ elimination publicly, commissioners agreed to have Crawford consult with Vettraino on his vetting process and make a determination as to whether to invite the candidates. The identities of those candidates would become public if they were to be invited for interviews.

]]>
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Driver Hospitalized After High-Speed Chase, Crash On Peninsula]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/driver-hospitalized-after-high-speed-chase-crash-on-peninsula A 19-year-old Traverse City man was hospitalized with serious injuries after leading deputies on a chase at speeds over 100mph on Old Mission Peninsula and crashing his car.

Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office deputies were responding to a traffic stop on Peninsula Drive near Wilson Road when a northbound vehicle driving at a high rate of speed crossed the center line as it passed them. The deputies abandoned the traffic stop and began to try and catch up with the "reckless northbound vehicle," according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies updated dispatch that they were trying to catch the car that was continuing to drive north on Pensinsula Drive at speeds estimated in the "triple digits." Deputies had their lights and sirens activated, but could not make progress in closing the gap between their vehicle and the suspect's vehicle.

Shortly past Gray Road, deputies found the suspect's car, which had run off the road to the left, crashed into multiple trees and came to rest on a beach. Airbags did not deploy in the car, and the suspect was not wearing a seat belt. He was taken to Munson Medical Center with extensive injuries. Possible alcohol and/or drug involvement are still being investigated in the case.

Photo credit: Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office

]]>
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Want To Own Your Own Island? Here's Your Chance]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/ever-wanted-to-own-your-island-here-s-your-chance For nearly 70 years, four generations of Robin Adams’ family have visited what they call their “little slice of heaven”: their own private island in Traverse City’s Silver Lake. Now Adams is reluctantly preparing to part with the property – and is looking for the right person to become the new owner of Trega Island.

“It’s a magical place,” Adams says of the 3.8-acre island located near the southeast side of Silver Lake. “When I was growing up, it really did seem like it was magical. The property is pristine.”

Entire islands rarely hit the real estate market in Traverse City – and Trega Island is no exception, having stayed in private ownership within Adams’ family since her grandfather first purchased it in 1949. “The story goes he bought it out of the Wall Street Journal,” says Adams. “My grandfather had it, then my mother had it, now I have it, and all our kids have used it.”

Accessible by a short boat ride from a secondary on-shore lot on Silver Lake Shores Road, the island includes over 1,700 square feet of private Silver Lake frontage and a one-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage with running water and electricity. The mid-century home – which Adams’ grandfather modernized from an old 1930s hunting cabin – includes a woodstove, stone fireplace, pine paneling and steel kitchen cabinetry.

The island’s history is prevalent throughout the property, including in the remnants of an old outhouse and the foundations of the original hunting cabin. “A fun fact is you can still the footers, which were made out of pickle barrels,” says Adams. “They filled them with cement and put them down to use for footers. You can see the rims and wood there still.”

But it’s the natural elements of the property that make the island so unique, according to Adams. “Maybe because it’s isolated, (nature) has had a chance to expand out there,” she says. “We have deer and birds and wildflowers, wild blueberries and wintergreen and wild orchids. There are some century-old trees out there. In the last five years, we’ve seen eagles all the time; they fish in the lake and stay in the trees on the edges of the property. There are great blue herons and loons. Whenever I take people up there, we always have to go on a nature hike.”

Adams says Trega Island’s lush scenery was an inspiration to her mother, who was a well-known watercolor artist in Cincinnati. “She would plant herself at a table at the cottage and find things to paint on the island, like the birch trees,” Adams says. “Some of those paintings are hanging in the cottage.”

Though deeply attached to Trega Island – where Adams spent every summer of her childhood and now lives part of the year – she says she and her husband decided to sell the property as part of their estate planning.

“We have three children, and none of them live in Traverse City,” she says. “We didn’t want to have any animosity created by who would be taking care of it or paying for it. That happens in families, and it can be a mess. It’s very difficult, but we’ve given it a lot of thought and feel like it’s the best decision.”

Realtor Mark Hagan of Coldwell Banker Schmidt is representing the property, which hit the market in late May. The $1.15 million dollar listing includes Trega Island and its residential cottage, as well as an on-shore waterfront lot that includes a garage, parking space and an additional 65 feet of private waterfront frontage. The on-shore lot is also buildable, according to Hagan.

Adams says the right buyer will be “somebody who loves nature and likes to have privacy.” She adds her family is looking for an owner “who wants to be a new steward for the property.”

“We’re not in any hurry to sell it,” she chuckles. “If the right person comes along, that’s great. We’re living there now, so we’re happy to keep enjoying it in the meantime.”

]]>
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Janie McNabb Appointed To NMC Board Seat]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/janie-mcnabb-appointed-to-nmc-board-seat The Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) board of trustees unanimously appointed Janie McNabb Monday to fill a vacant trustee slot on the board.

McNabb was selected from among nine candidates for the seat vacated by Marilyn Gordon Dresser, who resigned June 1. McNabb is an NMC alumnus and a strategic policy consultant. She previously partnered with the college to "provide job training in high-demand industries, develop programs based on employer demand, and align skilled trades grants with regional planning through her work as Chief Operating Officer at Networks Northwest," according to NMC.

“I am interested in serving as a trustee in order to support the college’s role in responding to the needs of the economy, promoting lifelong learning, and providing cultural experiences to the community," McNabb said in her board application. "I believe that my experiences in workforce development, strategic planning, and organizational leadership will be of value to the board of trustees and to the administration. As both a former student of the college and a lifelong advocate for academic and professional training, I would consider it an honor to participate in this level of leadership for the organization."

McNabb will fill the trustee seat until the college's next election in November 2018. At that time, McNabb can run to fill the remaining two years of Dresser's term - which expires December 31, 2020 - or else run for any other open trustee term on the 2018 ballot.

]]>
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[China Policy Expert To Headline International Affairs Forum Tonight]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/china-policy-expert-to-headline-international-affairs-forum-tonight Dr. David Shambaugh - director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University - will headline the International Affairs Forum tonight (Wednesday) for a presentation called “Where Great Powers Meet: America and China in Asia."

Three years ago, IAF organized the region’s first conference on China. With regional businesses rapidly expanding partnerships with Asia, and NMC and TCAPs planning to increase education exchanges with China, IAF brought together 40 experts on foreign policy, business, education and culture to debate what these ties would mean for our region. Dr. David Shambaugh opened the conference with the presentation, "China in the 21st Century: Are We Ready?"

At tonight's event, Shambaugh (pictured) returns to Traverse City after spending the last six months based in Singapore examining the shifting dynamics of international relations in Asia, particularly the roles of the United States and China. He'll provide a firsthand report of what he discovered in Asian capitals including New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Hanoi. Attendees will also get an update on what’s happened between northern Michigan and China in the fields of education, business and tourism since the China Conference three years ago. What has grown? What has withered? And how have experts revised their thinking about the future?

The event will be held at NMC's Hagerty Center and kick off with a 5pm reception, followed by the 6pm presentation. NMC President Tim Nelson will give opening remarks. Admission is $15 for IAF members and $20 for non-IAF members and includes a hors d’oeuvre reception and cash bar.

]]>
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Christmas In July Brings Out Bell Ringers]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/christmas-in-july-brings-out-bell-ringers The Salvation Army is bringing back its "Christmas in July" Red Kettle Campaign next month. On Friday and Saturday, July 14 and 15, patrons at seven locations in Traverse City will see the familiar red kettles with one of Santa’s helpers, decked out in a Santa hat – and shorts. This is the second year for the campaign. The goal is to raise $10,000, with 100 percent of donations collected staying local for local programs to help local individuals and families.

The seven Christmas in July partner locations are Espresso Bay(downtown), Family Fare (8th St.), Horizon Books, Oleson’s Food Store (Long Lake), Oleson’s Food Store (Hammond), Tom’s Food Market (East Bay), and Tom’s Food Market (West Bay). Anyone interested in volunteering should call Mary Vollink at 946-4644 x 308 or email.

]]>
Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[City Prepares To Tackle Four Major Bridge Projects]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/city-prepares-to-tackle-four-major-bridge-projects Four Traverse City bridges will either be completely replaced or majorly rehabilitated as part of an infrastructure project with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) over the next year. Traverse City commissioners received a detailed update on the project Monday from City Engineer Tim Lodge, who outlined individual design plans and costs for upgrading the West Front, Eighth, South Cass and Park Street bridges.

West Front Street Bridge – $1.1 Million
The most intensive of the four projects calls for completely replacing the West Front Street bridge over the Boardman River near the intersection of Hall Street (pictured). “This is the only bridge (where) everything’s going to be replaced,” Lodge told commissioners. “We’re taking the bridge all the way down through the foundations.”

The new bridge will consist of a concrete deck on concrete box beams with an aesthetic treatment to resemble an arch shape. Exposed portions of the concrete will have a colored, textured pattern similar to the pedestrian bridge over the Boardman River near Oryana. While the bridge span will lengthen from 58 feet to 65 feet, the width will stay within Front Street’s existing 66-foot right-of-way. That will provide room on the bridge for two traffic lanes, two bike lanes – one going in either direction – and parking lanes with widened sidewalks, Lodge said.

The new bridge will “extend traditional downtown streetscape elements to Hall Street,” according to Lodge, including pedestrian-scale lighting and a mid-block crosswalk on the bridge’s eastern side. Plans also call for crash-tested bridge railings and a pedestrian railing leading to the bridge, eliminating the existing guardrail. Watermain extensions, stormwater system improvements and contaminated soil removal are also included in the project.

As is the case with the other three bridge projects, 95 percent of the project costs for West Front will be covered through the MDOT Local Bridge Program, which awarded $1.1 million to the project. The city is required to contribute a five percent match to those funds and cover all engineering costs for the project. The West Front bridge, which was built in 1904, has been flagged for structural and design obsolescence issues.

Eighth Street Bridge – $750,000
Repairs for the Eighth Street bridge – located near the intersection of Boardman Avenue – include replacing the bridge deck but keeping the existing foundations, making it a rehabilitation project. “It’s going to give a more open feeling than what we have today,” Lodge said of the design, which reflects the new community-created plan for Eighth Street by providing bridge space for three travel lanes, widened sidewalks and cycle track.

The project also calls for adding pedestrian-scale lighting at street-level and lighting beneath the bridge on the riverfront public path, which will be raised to a higher level. Mayor Jim Carruthers asked if that would address frequent flooding issues on the pathway under the bridge. “It won’t entirely eliminate it under certain conditions, but I’m going to tell you that it will be very unlikely that it will be underwater,” replied Lodge. The city engineer said staff were also looking at adding more stairs from the street to the river on the bridge’s north side and working with property owners on the south side to enhance river access.

South Cass Street Bridge – $850,000
“This is our bridge that we really don’t want to mess with too much,” Lodge said of the South Cass bridge near Hagerty. “It’s eligible to be on the state historic register…we’re trying to get it back to what it was in 1929.” Calling the project “a restoration,” Lodge said work would mainly focus on rehabilitating the bridge’s concrete sidewalks and its decorative balustrade railings.

Project plans also call for repairing the earth-filled concrete arch, extending downtown streetscape improvements through the bridge, and potentially removing overhead lines. While plans call for two travel lanes, shoulder and sidewalks, Lodge said the design offered “some flexibility” to possibly offer on-bridge parking if the city wanted to pursue that.

Park Street Bridge – $850,000
As with Eighth Street, the Park Street bridge – located between Front Street and Grandview Parkway – is set to have its deck replaced atop its existing foundations. The bridge width will allow for three travel lanes and wider sidewalks. Commissioners expressed concerns about the existing sidewalk height relative to the road, which Lodge said would be addressed during the project by lowering the sidewalk. Commissioners also commented on the confusing nature of vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic patterns between downtown and Clinch Park beach on Park Street. “It just has no flow right now,” Commissioner Gary Howe said, calling Park Street “dangerous” during peak traffic seasons.

“It will have a better flow (when it’s repaired), because we’re going to retool that parking lot entrance,” said Lodge. “It’ll have more of a connected feel when we’re done.”

Lodge said Traverse City was partnering with MDOT to combine all four bridge projects into one bid package, which could save an estimated 25-30 percent in costs. Lodge noted plans call for pairing construction on one east-west and one north-south bridge at the same time. “We wouldn’t allow them to work on, say, the Eighth Street bridge and the Front Street bridge at the same time, but we would allow them to work on, say, the Eighth Street bridge and the Park Street bridge at the same time,” Lodge said.

While city staff's goal was to start the projects as soon as possible this year, permit delays could realistically push construction to 2018. Lodge said the city’s request for an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the West Front Street bridge has been delayed due to concerns from the State Historic Preservation Office about the bridge’s removal. Crews are prohibited from working in the Boardman River between November 15 and March 15, so the city is on a tight timeline to resolve the permitting issues, start construction and finish water work by the fall deadline this year. Lodge said the city could either appeal to be able to work in the river inside the restricted timeframe or else push the bridge repairs back to next year.

“Maybe we start with the Eighth Street bridge in the spring of 2018 and then work on this Front Street bridge in the fall,” Lodge said. “I’m still trying to figure that out.”

]]>
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Experience Art Rapids! Winners Named]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/experience-art-rapids-winners-named Artists Steve Brock of Detroit and David Greenwood from Grand Rapids were named winners of the first Experience Art Rapids!, a 15-day juried showcase of 270 works of art by over 100 artists. Brock won the People’s Choice Award and $2,500 prize for his “Flying Shuttle” (pictured). Winning the top juried selection and $2,500 was Greenwood’s “Seedpod 9 (Buzz),” the jurors’ pick from a pool of eight finalists.

These four juror finalists were each awarded $250:
• Margie Guyot of Eastport, “The Whopper”
• Marianne Priest, Elk Rapids, “Ghost Ferris Wheel”
• Pen Sandin, Ironwood, “Lake Superior Rock Collection II”
• Susie Krage, Detroit, “Eastern Markets”

An honorary jurors’ recognition for superior work was also given to Cindy McCune, East Jordan; Jill Ault, Ann Arbor; and Louise Pond, Kewadin. This was the Art Rapids! committee’s first combination juried and People’s Choice Award exhibit. The two-week long Experience Art Rapids! event grew from a one-day summer art fair started in 2006.

]]>
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Man Arrested In Stolen Car In Traverse City]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/man-arrested-in-stolen-car-in-traverse-city A homeless man was arrested in a stolen car the morning after a 2003 Chevy Malibu was taken from a Traverse City street.

The car had been left unlocked with the keys inside by its owner, a 16-year-old Kingsley male, Traverse City Police Department Chief Jeff O’Brien says. The driver reported the car stolen Friday at 10:30pm from a spot near Union and Front streets.

A Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s sergeant spotted the car the next morning at 6am near the law enforcement center and followed it to the Sail Inn parking lot a few blocks away, says Capt. Randy Fewless.

The suspect, a 36-year-old man who has two prior drunk driving convictions in Tennessee, refused verbal commands from the sergeant to get out of the car. He was arrested once backup arrived.

Officers suspected the suspect was intoxicated, but the man refused to taken a breathalyzer, Fewless says. The man also said he had no idea that the car was stolen and that he’d gotten it from other guests at a motel.

Deputies got a warrant for a blood draw to determine the man’s blood alcohol level. The man refused to cooperate at Munson Medical Center. Two deputies held down the suspect while his blood was drawn. He was taken to jail on charges of car theft, third-offense drunk driving and resisting arrest.

]]>
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Animal Control Complaints Prompt Commission Review]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/animal-control-complaints-prompt-commission-review Eighteen months after Grand Traverse County cut its Animal Control department – then later moved to partially reinstate staffing, hiring one part-time officer last October and another part-time specialist in May – the department continues to struggle to keep up with demand, prompting concerns and complaints from the community.

Grand Traverse County commissioners will discuss Animal Control at a study session Wednesday at 5:30pm at the Governmental Center. County Administrator Tom Menzel says the study session was scheduled at the request of Commissioner Cheryl Gore Follette to address complaints and the status of staffing and operations in the department (Gore Follette could not be reached for comment).

“I’m sure there were complaints, and this board is very receptive to anyone coming in and complaining,” says Menzel. “Based on that, the board wants to have a discussion. We will give them as much information as we can from a historical perspective and the changes we’ve made (in Animal Control).”

After eliminating two full-time Animal Control officers in January 2016 for budget reasons, county administrators later approved reinstating staffing to the department – but stressed Animal Control could no longer be subsidized by the county general fund and would need to be self-sustaining. The department is funded almost exclusively by dog license fees, which will bring in an estimated $128,000 in 2017.

After department expenses – including contracts with the Cherryland Humane Society and local veterinary offices, plus vehicles, rent, equipment and other operational costs – under $55,000 remains to pay for staffing. In 2017, those costs are divided between a part-time animal control officer working 25 hours per week year-round ($37,877), a seasonal animal control specialist working part-time for six months ($9,000), and dedicated staff time for Environmental Health/Animal Control Director Tom Buss, who oversees kennel inspections and other department functions ($8,000).

While Animal Control staffing hours are ramping up for the summer – its busiest season – budget constraints require reducing payroll the rest of the year. Health Officer/Director Wendy Trute acknowledges “one part-time Animal Control officer is not enough dedicated staff time for this program,” but says the department budget is “maximized,” with no funds available to pay for more employee hours.

“It’s a challenging department,” Trute says. “It’s not a mandated program, like many are in the county. But we’re in a community of a certain size, so definitely there’s the demand and need for it.”

Department data shows Animal Control responded to 187 complaints between January 1 and May 12, including 106 loose/stray dog complaints and 46 neglect/abuse cases (the data does not reflect multiple visits per case). Trute notes each case is often time-consuming and complex, requiring lengthy phone conversations, complaint responses and case investigations. In Grand Traverse County, where Animal Control staff are not deputized and the department is not run by the Sheriff’s Office – as is the case in many jurisdictions – staff are not allowed to carry guns, Tasers, mace or other protective equipment. That often leads to further delays in cases, necessitating staff to call in the Sheriff’s Office to assist or take over investigations.

“If there’s a hint of danger, they’re going to call in law enforcement to back them up,” Trute says.

Deputizing Animal Control officers could be one possible staffing solution, says Trute – though that would require the approval and cooperation of the Sheriff’s Office. Another option would be to increase revenues to Animal Control to pay for more staff time. Dog license fees were raised in 2016, but the department could look at either raising them again or work on community awareness campaigns to register more animals, says Trute. The county could also revise its Animal Control ordinance to charge fines for violations instead of issuing citations. Revenues from citations go through the courts to the county's general fund, but revenues from fines could go directly to Animal Control.

The department is also trying to cut costs, particularly sheltering costs at the Cherryland Humane Society. The county has 10 dedicated kennels for Animal Control at the shelter, but those kennels are “often full and there is not back-up space if needed,” says Trute. One particular challenge is sheltering animals long-term whose owners are either incarcerated or under investigation. There is “considerable cost” for holding such animals for a lengthy period of time, according to Trute. “In those situations, we’re trying to get (the owners) to surrender the pets or else find long-term foster or adoption homes for them,” she says.

Multiple northern Michigan counties – including Benzie, Kalkaska, Otsego and Roscommon – support their Animal Control services through a millage. That could be an option in Grand Traverse County if there was public and commission support for it. Most other counties subsidize Animal Control through their general funds, including Antrim, Charlevoix, Lake and Mason. Of the above nine counties, only Grand Traverse requires its Animal Control department to be self-sustaining through collected fees.

That leaves one final option: County commissioners could elect to drop Animal Control’s self-sustaining requirement and once again boost funding to the department from the county’s general fund. Menzel says he’s prepared for that possibility to be raised Wednesday, but in the face of the county’s mounting pension debt, will suggest commissioners have a rigorous discussion before considering such a measure.

“If there’s a requirement from the board to have more resources allocated to that department, I’d ask them to tell me where to find those (in the budget),” says Menzel. “This county is now at the point in its history where all decisions are based on economics. We must keep mandated services in place first, and secondary are services like Animal Control that we’ve been happy to provide. But if we have to make cuts, those are the programs we look at first. There’s no getting around it.”

]]>
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[City To Talk Bridges, West Front, Solar]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/city-to-tak-bridges-west-front-solar Traverse City commissioners wil discuss several city infrastructure projects at their 7pm study session tonight (Monday) at the Governmental Center.

City Engineer Tim Lodge will give an update and answer any commission questions on several city bridge projects, including Eighth Street, Cass Street, West Front Street and Park Street. Lodge and City Planning Director Russ Soyring will also give an overview on the process for approving capital improvement and street projects. Commissioners had asked for the overview to better understand the approval process for the reconstruction of West Front Street, which is set to take place later this year.

Commissioners will also discuss a proposed solar deal involving a private developer, Heritage Sustainable Energy, offering to sell Traverse City Light & Power energy from a 1MW solar array to be developed on M-72. According to a memo from city staff, "it is likely that TCL&P would approve this power purchase agreement contigent on the city agreeing to pay the price differential between this project and the calculated avoided cost of solar. This payment could happen via a negotiated green rate on city meters totaling approximately $25,000 each year for 20 years, the projected life of the panels." Staff said pros of the project including making an "immediate city statement regarding action towards (the city's) 100 percent renewable electricity goal by 2020," taking advantage of federal tax credits that expire in 2019, having a fixed-price contract for 20 years, reinstating TCL&P's customer green rate program, and having a shovel-ready project that could begin this calendar year.

Cons are that the project uses private property instead of city-owned land (incurring extra costs), that there was no bid process and thus no way to measure the competitiveness of the offer, that it's unclear if the technology proposed is the most efficient, and that there could be a lower-cost solar project available by involving more partners and achieving economies of scale. Commissioners will consider the pros and cons along with questions such as whether the city owns its own property that might suitable for a solar project during tonight's study session.

]]>
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Northern Michigan Big Draw For Retiring Military Officers]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/northern-michigan-proves-draw-for-retiring-military-officers Mike Carey had just retired from the U.S. Air Force at the rank of brigadier general. He was picking out patio furniture for his home in Colorado Springs. Then he decided he wanted to return to his home state of Michigan.

“I walked by a little white board and someone had written on it, ‘Take a chance,’ or ‘Take a risk,’ something like that, and I said to [my wife,] Melody, ‘What do you think about living in Traverse City?’ and she stopped and turned around and said, ‘You mean to live?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ She said, ‘You don’t have to convince me.’”

Carey is far from the only recently retired high-ranking military officer to make the region his home. As Patrick Sullivan writes in this week's Northern Express - sister publication of The Ticker - there are at least three other generals who live in the area. Each one said that after a career of living in places around the world, the place they wanted to spend the rest of their lives was northern Michigan.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General and Williamsburg resident Michael Lehnert agrees there’s an unusually high number of high-ranking officers in the area. “We do have a higher density of flag officers up here than you do in other places,” perhaps more than any other place outside of Washington D.C. or southern California. Lehnert says.

“I like this community, I love it. There’s just something special about it,” he says. “I think the reason it’s attracted so many (generals) is, first off, the quality of life. I’ve heard it said by the other flag officers, they like the people.”

Scott Dennis used to play football at Elk Rapids High School before he graduated in 1980. He went to Michigan Tech, and his family moved away. After a short stint in the private sector, Dennis joined the Air Force, going on to become a brigadier general and the commander of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing and Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, where he was responsible for nearly 26,000 personnel. When he retired in 2014, he decided he wanted to move back to his hometown permanently, and his wife, Debbie, an Oregon native, was happy to make it her adopted home.

“I grew up in the area and have very fond memories,” Dennis says. “We ended up kind of making a leap of faith and buying a house there on Elk Lake where I grew up.” Dennis adds that while the region has changed somewhat from 30 years, it still has the same charm he remembers growing up. “What’s the same to me is, it hasn’t grown like crazy, so there’s still a small-town feel; there’s a wonderful mix of the environment, nature, water," he says. 

Read more about northern Michigan's appeal to retiring high-ranking military officers in this week's Northern Express story, "Hooah! Hooya! Oorah! Hoorah!" This week's issue also features a fascinating history of military action in Grand Traverse Bay, a guide to the upcoming Cherry Festival concert schedule, and much more. The Northern Express is available to read online, or pick up a copy at one of nearly 700 other spots in 14 counties across northern Michigan.

]]>
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Concierge Service Launches In TC]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/concierge-service-launches-in-tc What's being billed as the region's "first full-service personal concierge company" has launched in Traverse City.

Luxus Concierge, owned by Jennifer LaCharite and Jake Jackson of Williamsburg, lists a menu of services including errand, personal assistant, marina delivery, moving, get-well package, and wait-for services, with special discounts for seniors. "What began and still remains a need in my life today has evolved into building a personal concierge business to meet the needs for others as well as myself," says LaCharite. "Trying 'to do it all' can be overwhelming to say the least. As a local business owner and real estate broker, I understand all too well that constant pull to get it all done."

Service areas covered by the company include Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Antrim counties. A full menu of services and pricing is available online here.

]]>
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Boardman Dam Drawdown Begins Next Week; New Documentary Debuts]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/boardman-dam-drawdown-begins-next-week-new-documentary-debuts U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews will begin drawing down the Boardman Dam impoundment next week – the next phase in the Boardman River restoration project that also coincides with the debut of a new documentary on the project Monday at the State Theatre.

Dewatering will begin mid-week at the Boardman Dam site on Cass Road, according to Alec Higgins, on-site manager for the Army Corps. The drawdown was initially scheduled for a Friday launch, but was pushed back to accommodate the delivery of additional construction materials. “We delayed a couple more days to add more stone material around the (new Cass Road) bridge piers before we let water flow under the bridge,” says Higgins. “That should get delivered this weekend, and the siphons should start up either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.”

Crews previously excavated the Boardman River’s former natural riverbed – which runs under the new bridge – in preparation for the drawdown. Fourteen large pipes have been staged at the site (pictured) and will draw down the impoundment’s water level at a rate of approximately one foot per day. After the water elevation has dropped 14 feet – estimated to take two weeks – an auxillary spillway carved into the dam will be used to lower the impoundment another four feet. At that point, water levels will be low enough that crews can safely begin excavating the dam; once it’s removed, the river will flow naturally through its new channel.

The entire dewatering process could take between two and four weeks, says Higgins. The siphon system is a different method than the temporary dewatering structure that was constructed for the removal of the Brown Bridge dam, which failed and flooded 66 properties along the Boardman River. In a worst-case scenario with the siphon system – such as a total failure or a deluging rain event – engineers say the impoundment would simply fill back up, requiring the drawdown to begin again. A viewing area has been set up on the south side of Cass Road near Keystone Road to allow the public to watch the drawdown.

While river users shouldn’t notice much difference in terms of water flow downstream from the dewatering site, Army Corps project manager Carl Platz says turbidity – or water cloudiness – will likely be visible throughout the Boardman River over the next several weeks.

“We’re going to flow water through areas that haven’t had water flowing through them in a very long time,” says Platz. “As the water flows, it’s going to pick up fines (sediment) and transport them downstream. We know this will be happening; it’s an expected condition. But it will frankly have an impact downstream.”

Platz says water haziness may vary from day to day, but he cautions it could be visible “all the way out to Grand Traverse Bay.” The condition is only temporary and will not damage the watershed, Platz says. “It’s a short-term impact for a long-term gain, which is fully returning the river to its natural beauty.”

Once dewatering is complete and dam removal begins, Cass Road will be closed for approximately three months near the project site. Higgins says the tentative timeline for the road closure is July 28 to October 25, though that schedule could change if crews encounter any delays.

Meanwhile, as the next major phase of the Boardman River Dams Project gets underway, a new documentary on the project will debut Monday at 6pm at the State Theatre. “The Ottaway: A River Reborn” was directed by Emmy-winning science and nature documentary filmmaker Dan Bertalan and funded by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The one-hour film explores “the dynamics of human interaction with the Boardman/Ottaway River historically and culturally and looks at the present day as well as projecting into the future,” Bertalan tells The Ticker. “What is the worth of a river?”

A press summary of the film reads: “Through the hearts of minds of various stakeholders, a story unfolds about the challenges of turning back the hands of time by removing the three upper dams and modifying a fourth to once again connect the river with the waters of Grand Traverse Bay. This film weaves together Native values, the complexity of a changing society, and the unspoken voices of nature’s population of ‘environmental citizens’ whose lives are interwoven with… the rebirth of the Ottaway.” The Boardman has historically been called the Ottawa or Ottaway by area Native American tribes.

Bertalan, who is based in Madison, Wisconsin, will appear in person at Monday’s free screening (tickets are available online or at the State Theatre box office). He will introduce the film and “entertain questions afterward on the making of this film and the making of documentaries in general,” he says. The documentary will also be broadcast statewide on Central Michigan University public television in July. Bertalan says the film will also be offered to broadcast networks throughout Michigan and will be shown as part of the Into the Outdoors science programming broadcast across seven states throughout the Midwest. While Bertalan is uncertain if “The Ottaway: A River Reborn” will eventually be distributed on DVD or digital download, there could be other future opportunities to reach a wider audience.

“I suspect it’s going to be (available) online sometime,” Bertalan says. “And we will probably enter it in film festivals regionally and nationally.”

]]>
Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Senior Care Company Delivering Meals]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/senior-care-company-delivering-meals Comfort Keepers® of Northern Lower Michigan is now offering fresh meal delivery as part of its in-home services for seniors. The company partnered with the dining team at Northwestern Michigan College to provide meals delivered three times each week by a Comfort Keepers caregiver. The service is called “Comfort Keepers Meals by Simply to Go.”

 “We see first-hand with our in-home care clients the importance of regular meals that are well-balanced. Many seniors cannot or choose not to cook,” said Leslie Knopp, Comfort Keepers co-owner.

Monthly meal plans are available with Comfort Keepers’ current senior home care services or can be purchased as a standalone service. The NMC dining program is operated by Sodexo; “Simply to Go” is a signature line of prepared meals available at many of its partner sites. For more details click here

]]>
Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Kat Paye's Very Cherry Moment Is Here]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/kat-paye-s-very-cherry-moment-is-here Kat Paye is preparing for her 28th National Cherry Festival, which isn’t necessarily that remarkable – except that Paye is 35 years old. She was promoted to executive director of the Cherry Fest in October after serving as operations and volunteer manager. The Ticker caught up with Paye as orchestration is well underway for this year’s Cherry Fest (July 1-8).

Ticker: Congratulations on the new job! Sounds like you have a long history with the Cherry Fest.
Paye:
I grew up in the Festival since I was eight years old as a junior ambassador and folding t-shirts. Then I moved up to scooping ice cream in the Pepsi tent and later became an event director and a board member. I resigned my board position when Trevor [Tkach] asked that I go on staff five years ago.

Ticker: So your parents got you involved?
Paye:
I got them involved, actually. I started working as the hands and feet for Jeff Nash, who was a quadriplegic. My mom got so tired of driving me around she started volunteering. And now my husband is an event director. This will be his second year. I told him, ‘festival first, family second!’

Ticker: You’d been serving as operations director. What was your biggest accomplishment in that role?
Paye:
I think one of the biggest things we did – and it was not all me – was we reduced our time for setup to four days, we moved the setup into middle of night to avoid traffic, and we tear down in 24 hours, which used to be three days. It’s an all-volunteer operations team, just incredible people who take one or even two weeks off their jobs -- this is their vacation time.

Ticker: Let’s hear your thoughts on how the Cherry Festival is doing. What letter grade would you give on the volunteer front?
Paye:
That’s easy. An A+.

Ticker: Operations?
Paye:
I’m a hard one to grade, but everything has room for growth. Maybe a B+/A-.

Ticker: Finances? How healthy financially is the organization?
Paye:
I think we’re doing very well. We are now in a position where we can apply for grants and accept donations and be specific about where the money goes. The Open Space isn’t getting any bigger and we do depend on eight days of great weather. If it rains we are in trouble. So we’re looking for a more diverse funding model. So I’ll say a B+.

Ticker: Events?
Paye:
A-. We have 150 events in eight days, and they’re very diverse, so that feels good.

Ticker: Innovation? How open are you to changing this festival?
Paye:
We are founded on tradition, and change is tricky. It’s not something entered into lightly. So I would sit us at a B. When you’re guiding a ship as old and as rooted in tradition as we are you have to do it gently. I do think you’ll start seeing more innovation in our parades, and changes in our Open Space layout starting in 2018. This year we’re doing a lot of listening and observing to see our strengths and weaknesses. We do want to make sure our programming makes sense and is relevant. We are, for instance, reassessing those kids events that are not highly attended. We’ll have pit spitting and pie eating as long as there are cherries, but other things will be looked at. My big push for 2017 was to do everything we’ve done but better. We’re coming off a year with a three-day air show and a new parade, so we’re still basically taking a nap after all that! But we’ll tweak a few things and then we’ll talk about it all in 2018.

Ticker: Community relations?
Paye:
A-. I think we do really well with this currently. We respond to any and all points of contact and making sure people are being heard.

Ticker: And what do you tell people who are unhappy with the air show?
Paye:
So this year is the [U.S. Air Force] Thunderbirds; not a huge difference in noise. What I say is it is two days, we list the specific times the jets fly, and we offer free ear plugs. We have not committed that we are going to have a jet in our show forever, but yes, we are listening. We don’t make money [on the air show]; it’s just really cool and a long-standing tradition and a lot of people love it. We cannot please everyone; we just hope everyone finds an event they love.

Ticker: Your big event is only days away. What’s your favorite part?
Paye:
It is fun every day. I tell people I get to plan an eight-day party. I love Special Kids Day, seeing all those kids down there, running and ecstatic. They are the best thing. And another favorite is a parade; I will find a parade in any city I travel to. Just hearing the bands warm up… so many years later that gives me goosebumps.

]]>
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[State Approves Funding For $14M NMC Innovation Center]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/state-approves-funding-for-14m-nmc-innovation-center Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) is targeting a 2018 groundbreaking on a new $14 million-plus 21st Century Innovation Center after the Michigan Senate approved funding for the project in the state's 2018 budget, which was passed by legislators Thursday. The budget now goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

The state and NMC will split project costs for the center, each paying more than seven million dollars toward its completion. State funding will pay for "important renovations and modernizations of the 50-year-old West Hall," while NMC funding will pay "for a new multi-story library and learning space," according to the college. The new center will encompass an approximately 54,000 square-foot facility incorporating "innovative and transformative learning environments, a new library and multiple academic and simulation spaces."

NMC had sought state funding for the new center for several years but repeatedly saw the request rejected or delayed. Since 2005, NMC has ranked 23rd out of 28 community colleges for capital outlay appropriations, receiving just $650,000 in state investment. "Over the last six years, we have invested significant time and effort in requesting funding for this project," says NMC President Tim Nelson. "We are pleased our legislators have recognized our dedication and commitment and are helping to make this investment a reality, for our learners now and into the future.”

“Among my top priorities as a Member of the Michigan House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee and vice-chair of the Joint Capital Outlay Subcommittee on Appropriations was to fight for this capital outlay funding for Northwestern Michigan College,” State Representative Larry Inman (R-104th) said in a statement. “I am so pleased as a past NMC Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, along with Senator (Wayne) Schmidt and Senator (Darwin) Booher, that we were able to bring this project across the finish line, among the many other capital outlay projects that were considered."

Schmidt said the project would "not only benefit learners in my community, but will also support innovative spaces for learners from around the state," while Booher said it will help "continue to make NMC a leader in higher education in our region."

The center's design was influenced by input from faculty and staff, who contributed 270 comments during a campus-wide opening conference and participated in 17 user group workshops led by architectural firm Stantec.

]]>
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Traverse City Central's Track Title To Be Forfeited]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/traverse-city-central-s-track-title-to-be-forfeited Traverse City Central High School will forfeit its 2016-17 Boys’ Track & Field Regional Championship after it was discovered that an ineligible athlete participated in the event.

Mark Mattson, Traverse City Central High School Athletic Director, says an international student who was ineligible participated in the meet. Traverse City Area Public Schools self-reported the ineligibility to the Michigan High School Athletics (MHSAA) after becoming aware of it in mid-June. The ineligible athlete did not score any points in the regional meet; however, the participation of any athlete who is not eligible is a violation of rules. In addition to the regional title, per MHSAA rules, because the student also participated in cross country, TC Central is required to forfeit any cross country races and track & field meets that the team won where the ineligible student participated.

Students who received awards in individual events at the Regional meet will be allowed to keep their medals and their achievements will remain in the official meet results. “The rules are clear and in this case there was an oversight in our process which led to an international student who was ineligible participating. I want to personally apologize to the students on the team who deserved and earned this title, and I want to assure our student-athletes, coaches, and families that we are already taking additional steps to ensure this does not happen again in the future,” said Mattson.

“It is regrettable that an oversight by adults impacted students,” said Chris Parker, Traverse City Area Public Schools’ Associate Superintendent. “Procedures are in place to ensure future transfer, international students, and other students that may not meet MHSAA eligibility requirements do not participate in events that are not allowable. I have full faith that this type of error will not occur again.”

]]>
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Granholm Headlines Green Energy Conference]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/granholm-headlines-green-energy-conference Clean energy experts from across the state and nation are coming to Traverse City June 23–25 to share the latest info, discuss trends, and help attendees make renewable energy efforts and resources a bigger part of their lives.

The Michigan Clean Energy Conference and Fair kicks off Friday at the State Theatre with a film and panel discussion on the future of electric vehicle manufacturing, infrastructure and sales, the role of public transportation, and the roles of Uber and autonomous vehicles. The session runs from 4pm to 8pm and is free of charge.

Saturday will be dedicated to the opportunities and hurdles that energy entrepreneurs face in Michigan. At 9:30 am, keynote speaker Mary Powell will detail “The Power Company of the Future.” Powell is president and CEO of Green Mountain Power in Colchester, Vermont. At 3pm, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will speak on “Michigan’s Role in the Modern Industrial Revolution.”  On Sunday, Northwestern Michigan College will host the 25th annual Michigan Energy Fair at the Aeropark Laboratories in conjunction with the school’s construction and renewables program.

Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday sessions range from $10 to $75. For details, click here

]]>
Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Millage, Property Sales Likely Off Table For Addressing County Debt]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/millage-property-sales-likely-off-table-for-addressing-county-debt Grand Traverse County commissioners unanimously rejected seeking a millage to pay down the county's pension debt Wednesday. While other pension options remain on the table, commissioners also agreed selling county property is another likely dead end – a consensus reached after staff outlined major obstacles to selling a long list of parcels including the Civic Center, Grand Traverse Pavilions, Power Island, Governmental Center and Twin Lakes.

Commissioners debated whether they should reschedule voting on a millage and other pension options after two board members, Commissioners Sonny Wheelock and Cheryl Gore Follette, missed Wednesday’s meeting due to personal emergencies. While Chair Carol Crawford wanted to delay voting until the board’s next regular meeting on July 19, calling the options “big decisions that require all seven of us,” other commissioners wanted to put the long-discussed pension issue “to bed,” in the words of Commissioner Bob Johnson.

“We keep beating this horse and whether they’re here or not, at this point we still have a process,” Johnson said.

Commissioners ultimately agreed to proceed with the discussion. With only five members present, however, commissioners had to vote nearly unanimously to meet the four-vote requirement to pass motions. Two options previously discussed at length by the board did earn unanimous consensus: those included paying $250,000 from the county general fund toward OPEB (other post-employment benefits) liabilities and rejecting a potential millage to pay down the debt.

“If we go for a millage, voters are soundly going to defeat it,” said Johnson. “(They’ll) just say, ‘Do your job here, and do what you’re elected to do, and make the tough decisions.’”

Crawford agreed. “At this time, I don’t want to go to the voters and ask for the millage until we have…really dug in to see what can be done, to see what efficiencies we can find,” she said. “I think there wouldn’t be the incentive to do better.”

Another major option on the table – using bonds to cover some or all of the county’s estimated $60 million pension tab – proved more divisive to the board. A motion to reject using bonds failed after Crawford and Commissioner Tom Mair blocked the veto.

“I do believe in my heart of hearts…that bonding is probably the single only way to move forward and secure this county and not be in a debt crisis, especially if you don’t want to have a millage and there’s limited opportunities to sell property,” said Mair.

Crawford said that while she opposed bonding 100 percent of the county’s debt, she wanted to leave the board’s “options a little bit more open” to include the possibility of bonding some debt at a future date. Commissioners Johnson, Ron Clous and Dan Lathrop vehemently opposed bonding, but lacked the fourth vote needed to eliminate it as an option Wednesday. Commissioners will likely revisit the bonding issue at their July 19 meeting, when an anticipated full board will be present.

Commissioners Wednesday also acknowledged they appear to have few – if any – options for selling off county property after staff outlined a litany of legal hurdles encumbering properties including the Civic Center, Grand Traverse Pavilions, the Governmental Center, Twin Lakes, Power Island, and Maple Bay Park.

According to detailed analyses prepared by County Planning Director John Sych and Deputy Civil Counsel Chris Forsyth, the county would have to obtain approval from multiple family heirs as well as all adjoining property owners at Twin Lakes to sell that park, and would also jeopardize future grant funding from multiple sources in doing so. Similar restrictions are in place at Power Island. At the Governmental Center, the City of Traverse City owns 26.3 percent of the building and would have to agree to any sale of the property; both entities would also have to find a new location for all of the public services provided at that facility. Sych indicated Traverse City officials had no interest in pursuing a sale of the building.

At both Maple Bay Park and the Civic Center, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) restrictions require that any land sold off or changed from recreational use in those parks be replaced by the same amount of land, with the same or higher financial and recreational value, elsewhere in the county. The so-called “conversion” clause would essentially nullify any potential profit from a sale of either park.

Staff did clarify one option still open to commissioners is to sell the parks to municipal partners that would continue operating them as recreational parks, such as selling the Civic Center to Traverse City. “I think the intent behind (the restrictions) is …is it going to be used as a park?” said Forsyth. “It really doesn’t matter if it’s the county, township or whoever, as long as they’re maintaining the park.”

Multiple legal hurdles also burden the Grand Traverse Pavilions, which was funded through a 20-year voter millage, has outstanding bond debt still attached to the property, and falls under the authority of the Building Authority and Department of Health and Human Services, both of which have legal powers separate from the board of commissioners. After reviewing all of the property restrictions, Crawford asked Sych: “Are there any properties that are on this list that are unencumbered, that are easy to sell, that are just sitting there doing absolutely nothing?”

“Quite honestly, no,” Sych said. “There could be little pieces here and there, but nothing that really stands out. I don’t think the county really has a lot of surplus properties out there.”

Commissioners still expressed gratitude to staff for the report, noting their primary goal was to know what their options were and that they now had answers, along with a detailed property database the county will regularly update going forward. “Basically we can’t do anything,” said Johnson with a chuckle. “But it was a good document, and I know you spent a lot of time on it. It was real nice to see this (information) all in one place.”

Mair said he wanted "to apologize to anybody, especially the residents of the Pavilions, if we upset them in any way by even discussing that we made a list" of potential property sales, saying commissioners needed to understand what the county owned and what could be done. "The objective was to have a list," he said. "It’s very important to know what you own."

]]>
Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400