Dexter Forum Notes- MAY 01, 2021
Karen Roberts, our link to the wonderful world of zoning ordinances, talked a little more about form based zoning. If you would like a little primer on zoning you can stand on the corner of Grand and Baker and view five different zoning districts.
Zoom users have long noticed that when you raise your electronic Zoom hand you appear to be a member of the Simpsons family. Ryan demonstrated the new skin tone feature by raising his appropriately hued hand to call our attention to the increasing use of facial recognition software by government agencies.
Not everything that happens near our roads is the work of the road commission but commissioner Fuller has the answers anyway. They are repairing the Mast Road bridge and encourage you to stay away for a while. There will be controlled access to one lane during the three month process but it is likely to cause backups during busy times. They are not the reason Miller Road has been closed for so long - something about a gas line - but they do expect the road to reopen by the end of May. They did not take down all the trees on Zeeb between Miller and Peters Roads - that's a Scio Township project to extend the trail system. And they are trying to tap into the big federal infrastructure program to fund a roundabout at the five points intersection of Mast, Huron River Drive and Joy.
Mark reminded us that the Dexter Farmer's market begins its new season today under the direction of a new director - Samantha. Also the free bike medic will return next week.
The deal is not done yet but the city is still in the due diligence phase of offering to purchase the old lumber yard/med hub facility for use as a city hall.
Five folks have applied to fill the vacancy on city council. Two of them are forum regulars - Cole Miller and Sanam Arab. We didn't put them on the stump because we can't vote. Vacancies are filled by council vote after nomination by the mayor.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, May 15 at 8:30 on Zoom
Your friendly moderators,
Karl Fink and John Hansen
Dexter Forum Notes 4-17-21
We had the usual crowd along with three generations of Morris's on hand as we sorted through the week in Dexter.
Ann Davis reported that the senior center is preparing for a 'soft' reopening in a month or so. Most seniors have been vaccinated but caution is still needed.
Miller Road has been closed for so long that you almost forget that you could get to Ann Arbor that way but it looks like it might re-open by June.
We talked a little about the return of the Forum to in person sessions. Folks are a little wary still but want there to be a video version when we do go live. We would still need masks and more square feet per person than the health center can provide.
Commissioner Shink pointed out that even though Michigan is all black on the map Washtenaw County has pretty low infection numbers and pretty high vaccination numbers.
Commissioner Maciejewski noted that a hunk of the pandemic relief money coming to the county will go towards high speed Internet in the under served rural areas. He is also in charge of the new eleven member county commission on ageing which will be holding its' first meeting soon.
Librarian Paul said the library has been open to foot traffic for a while now with a lower volume of visitors but a big increase in the use of electronic media.
We did not have any first hand information on Dexter Daze but we noted that the committee in charge announced a move to the Legion property in Scio Township and Scio Township announced that they had not received a request for a permit and would be unlikely to grant one under current ordinances.
Folks who have lost a family member to Covid were notified that FEMA will reimburse funeral expenses up to $9,000 if Covid is the first item on the death certificate.
Steve and Judy Bemis announced that the Juneteenth event in Webster Township has been canceled.
We did not sing Happy Birthday to Ryan Henyard on his 37th birthday because we only do that for people turning 100 (like Al Ruhlig). But we did listen to his concerns about the continuing string of black men being shot by white police officers after confrontations that began with an offense unlikely to lead to the death penalty. Ryan has put together a mini-course on the subject available on the UM Coursera platform.
Ryan has been appointed to the board of Avalon Housing and we talked a bit about how we can be a welcoming community to the new residents of Hilltop View. The units there will be furnished by HouseN2Home - a charity that does that sort of thing. Local groups can sponsor a unit or provide donations.
Mike Raatz, our man in the library book sale business, gave a definite maybe to August as the time for the next book sale. With a years' worth of donations piling up in our closets the first sale should be a biggee.
Dexter Forum Notes 4-3-21
Today's Forum was more like a fireside chat. Lots of friendly conversation but no blockbuster revelations.
Kim Marinelli told us about a new cluster of homes under consideration on North Territorial near Dexter Town Hall Road. There is also a new commercial truck division of the LaFontaine franchise going in at that intersection. Aside from the project itself it is great to see fresh, new faces getting involved in local government.
Joanne Westman thanked all of the people who stepped up to fund the new well needed by the Webster Historical Society.
Sometimes we also report on the news when there actually isn't any news which is the case with the fate of our Dexter Daze celebration. Last we heard the sponsoring committee was looking to hold the event outside the city and that's the last we have heard.
Catherine McClary, our county treasurer, has been a great addition to the Forum. It's not everyday that you can chat with a woman who can write a check for a billion dollars that might actually clear the bank. Among other things she called our attention to features of the recently passed American Rescue Plan (this is the thing with the stimulus checks in it) that will provide millions of dollars to local governments. She noted that this could be a transformational moment for governmental units that normally spend most of their time trying to figure out what they have to cut or not do at all.
Dexter Forum Notes 3-20-21
Lots to talk about on a bright, sunny spring morning.
Heidi Patel, president of the freshly merged Education Foundation of Dexter/Excellence for Dexter Students group wanted folks to know that they are still active and distributing grants despite the Covid disruptions. They are trying to record the 36 year history of the group and are seeking input from early board members and grant recipients. There should be at least a million dollars worth of stories out there. Let them be told.
Vicki Paulissen from the League of Women voters reported on the work of the Citizen's redistricting committee that is charged with drawing the new lines for our members of congress and the state legislature. Of particular interest was the concept of 'communities of interest'. This is a bit vague but it is a feature of the process and folks need to speak up to establish that they are a community of interest. The excellent example that she gave dealt with Loch Alpine. This community has about 400 homes and they share interests but they are in two different townships. It would make sense for them to be in the same districts but the law encourages the committee to not split up existing government boundaries. This is another one of those situations where you need to speak up while the process is underway.
And like wise, Karen Roberts, our link to the work being done to revise the City of Dexter's planning and zoning rules informed us about a proposed move from use based zoning to form based zoning. Some places that used to be residences are now businesses but they still look like residences. So the move would be to zone more on how you look than what you do. You wouldn't actually have to be a duck as long as you looked like a duck, if I get the drift. This is another process that invites public input up front.
And the president dropped by, the president of the Dexter Chamber of Commerce that is, Quaila Pant. Quaila's day job is to run public relations for six LaFontaine dealerships and everyone seems to value her organizational skills (she is also the president nominee of the Dexter Rotary Club). The Chamber is having a meet the board event next week for members at the brewery by the cemetery.
We asked Paul Cousins for an update on his wife Pat who suffered a serious stroke two weeks ago. The news is generally good in that she has been transferred to the rehabilitation facility inside Chelsea Hospital and is making
Paul also talked about the decision by the Dexter Daze committee to move the event out of the city. City council was reluctant to move forward with permitting the event in light of the Covid situation so it looks like it might go elsewhere. Last year's event was cancelled as you may recall. We probably have not heard the final word on this situation yet.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be held on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 8:30 AM via Zoom.
Dexter Forum Notes 3-6-21
There was clearly an underlying theme for today's Forum and that was the struggle of our community trying to anticipate and adjust to our so called new normal. We want to stop cancelling things and start getting together while still being respectful of the danger of the virus.
Rob Caplis from the Encore reported on the progress of turning the Copeland building into the Encore Theatre. They are planning to begin socially distanced productions this summer. Abby from the Dexter Community Players similarly reported that they are scheduling a summer performance at Columbus Hall.
Our churches, too, want you back with the Methodists following their successful living nativity with a living Easter event on March 27. The Webster UCC is sponsoring a Juneteenth event to commemorate the day that the last enslaved Texans learned of their freedom.
The Gordon Hall event has been moved to the fall along with the Rotary Jazz Night. The Garden Club still hopes to conduct its' spring plant sale and the city council will decide soon whether or not Daxter Daze can be safely held.
Joanne Westman is eagerly accepting contributions needed to replace the well at the Webster Meeting House.
Jim Carson continued his series of updates on the future of the senior center. Although the center is currently closed the phone line is staffed and they are able to help with vaccine hunting and transportation if necessary.
And, as promised, a little note from the past. I recently ran across an old valentine from my 8th grade crush, Tuji H. (also known as the Bethlehem bombshell). Perhaps you will find it useful in your current situation.
"Kissing spreads germs - the doctors have stated, but you can kiss me, baby, I've been vaccinated."
Dexter Forum Notes 2-20-21
You really need to know this. Ryan Henyard says that if you get an unwanted spam call on your cell phone you should forward the message to 7726. This goes to your service provider and will help them 'try' to deal with the problem. 7726 is SPAM on your alpha-numeric phone pad.
Another helpful hint from Steve Bemis - check your exhaust pipe if you have a high efficiency furnace that vents out close to the ground. If it ices over or gets plugged up there will be a problem.
The senior center needs help with their newsletter and web site. Contact the center if this is an area where you can be of service.
We did another informal vaccine survey and we are seeing more hands raised. Some folks have been travelling 50 miles to pharmacies where they can get appointments. The main problem is still the lack of availability of the vaccine.
The re-districting process for county commissioners will be delayed until the census data is available which is projected to be the end of September.
Karen Roberts is our connection for the review of planning and zoning documents currently being undertaken by the city.
All school kids have the option of some in-person instruction as the district cautiously approaches whatever the new normal turns out to be.
Catherine McClary noted that she has been prohibiting Covid based foreclosures of occupied properties to be sure that no one is left out in the cold. She also noted that the B2B trail system is now covered by a special fund for maintenance purposes.
Ham radio operator Steve Bemis cautioned folks who are considering roof top solar installations to be aware that cheaper systems can generate radio 'hash" that interferes with radio signals.
And....as the world turns...the city is looking at the old Hoey lumber yard (aka MedHub facility) down by the railroad tracks as a potential site for city offices.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 8:30 AM on Zoom. Just looking at today's notes tells you that you just never know what is on people's minds until you ask.
Dexter Forum Notes 2-6-2021.
We have had lots of discussions over the years about our senior center. We stand alone in the county as the only center without a permanent source of funds The whole program is reliant on dues and donations that have to be re-hustled every year. Covid has closed the center for now (except for the meals on wheels part) but there is a vision for the future.
Jim Carson, the chair of the center board walked us through the funding aspect of things and plans to return again to discuss facilities, staff and programming. The Forum crowd leans a little on the gray side so there was pretty easy agreement on the need for a solid senior center. We will hear more on how to go about it in the future.
And just when you thought you were pretty well informed........we learned that you can hunt at night using bait, whistles and laser sights as long as you have permission to be on the land and you are hunting coyotes, fox, possum or raccoons. This all came to light when a resident called the sheriff after seeing armed individuals walking down the road at 2:30 AM.
We did a quick survey at the end to see how many of us have had our first Covid shot. Not many.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 8:30 AM on Zoom. We are opening up a little early to encourage a little personal interaction amongst old friends.
Forum Notes Jan 16, 2021
We started off by noting that the City of Dexter was conducting a special meeting for goal setting that would overlap with our meeting. Several folks excused themselves in advance so they could attend the city meeting. People come up with a lot of ideas when brainstorming goals that have to be sorted out with regard to the over and under lapping responsibilities of the city, townships, county, state and the private sector.
Doug Marrin from the Sun Times News wants you to contact him about your experience with the vaccination process for a story he is writing. We learned from Michael Champ that all of the residents of the Cedars have had their first shot (if they wanted one).
Doug is also our prime trail walker and he noted that the issue with the University and the trails on Peach Mountain is still under discussion.
Jack Campbell told us that plans are rolling along for his new condo development on Grand Street which will be called Millennium Place. There will be 23 units. Jack is better known for his single family homes in the area but apparently the market now calls for condos.
We congratulated Sue Shink on her election as chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. It has apparently been a while since one of the 'rural' commissioners has been the chair.
The school board just held its organizational meeting with several fresh faces now on board. All levels of instruction (elementary, middle and high) are now on track to resume in-person instruction on at least a part time basis.
We wrapped up our sixth year of promoting civil discourse at the local level by noting that both the national and state capitols are now being surrounded by fences and barbed wire to aid in the peaceful transfer of power. I think that's called cognitive dissonance - peace through barbed wire.
Since January is one of those five Saturday months we will get a little break before we next meet on Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 8:30 AM on Zoom.
Forum Notes Jan 02, 2021
One of the most valuable functions of the Dexter Forum is the opportunity to share information. We usually have someone who knows something that the rest of us don't know yet. But not today. There was lots of curiosity about how and when we will be informed about the schedule for getting our covid vaccines. Several people knew of health care workers who have already been vaccinated and we all seem to know that folks over 75 are high on the list but nobody actually knows how the notification process will work. We will roll up our sleeves and wait patiently.
Visitors to the new Noble Appliance store all commented on how big the former grocery store looks with all of the shelves and coolers removed. Visitors to the new Dollar store noted that it looks like every other Dollar store.
The $600 stimulus checks are showing up in bank accounts whether you need them or not.
Not everything is cancelled. The Dexter Ice Festival who go on as scheduled beginning on January 23. There will be no ice carving demonstrations and no public ceremony but the sculptures will be on display until nature reclaims them.
We spent a lot of time reviewing the status of services for senior citizens in our community. At its best we have one of the most modest senior centers in the area. The center is currently closed and the staff has been furloughed. But when things improve we are still back in a facility with a limited lease and no dependable funding stream. Although the center is currently in the City of Dexter the majority of users live in the townships so this is not just a Dexter problem but rather a regional one. We have other successful regional services like the schools, the library and fire and police protection so we know that something can be created. It all boils down to leadership - maybe you.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be held on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 8:30 AM on Zoom.