Notes -- 3-03-2018 Our mission is to Listen and Learn so we tend to avoid highly controversial subjects where people pretty much have their mind already made up but we could not resist talking about guns. There was general agreement that we need to do something but the something is not clear. Research. Mental health care. Insurance. Metal detectors. Age limits. We are as bewildered as the nation as a whole. Our only original suggestion came from Mary Ellen Miller and that was to ban boys (presumably excluding her two fine sons).
We cleared up the timing of the rebuilding of Central Street between 3d and 5th street - not this year. We look forward to the improvements to Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. between Dan Hoey and Zeeb which WILL occur this spring. Dan Hoey Road may be re-opened in a couple of days after repair of a collapsed drain (the new school construction project had a role to play here). And, of course, we just can't wait for our new roundabout on Baker Road which will be built this summer.
Michael Champ dropped the fact that nearly half of all babies born in Michigan are born under the Medicaid program by way of encouraging attendance at the St. James Episcopal Coffee and Conversation session on women's health next Thursday at 6:30 PM.
The trees are coming down along North Territorial Road as announced.
Urban living is on its way to Dexter as all three of our proposed condo projects are moving forward. The most dramatic evidence is the demolition of the old industrial buildings on Grand Street.
Folks are encouraged to check out Bridge magazine. This is an on-line only magazine with a mission similar to ours - civil discussion. We will be hosting one of their community information sessions in a few weeks. They are at BridgeMi.com ----------------------------------------------------------- 2/17/18 The inevitable has happened. We have grown out of our training wheels and we have become..... DexterForum.com You can now read about our activities anywhere in the world. Thanks to Richard Weaver for the nudge and the technical assistance.
The snack table was covered with those little things that look like oranges, valentine chocolates and another sign of the season - girl scout cookies.
We congratulated former Judge Fink on his new position as assistant magistrate - a position that reports to the head magistrate and first daughter Elisha Fink.
The road commission happily announced that it had received a grant that would allow the removal of lots of big old trees that had wandered too close to some of our beautiful rural roads and become targets for a certain category of drivers. We quickly agreed that the dead trees should go first. The heritage trees deserve a little more respect and we were informed that there are resistance efforts underway.
Public transportation (or the lack of) is becoming a more frequent topic. The WAVE gets high marks for its door to door services and it is acknowledged that it can get you to Ann Arbor with a transfer to an AATA bus at Meijers. But, it would seem that with our increased population density in and around the city that it is time for a more direct, regular service to downtown and the hospital area.
We moved our infomercial segment to the middle of the meeting to better accommodate the growing number of announcements. We see these announcements as an important public service and recognize that folks tell us more than just dates and times. We get to hear about the substance of community events from folks who are personally involved. Today we had eight infomercials. That said, if you want people to take home the exact information please bring some written material and place it on the back table so interested people can take it home with them.
Dexter is a growing area and we all care about what is coming next so it is always a treat when John Evans, our preeminent local commercial realtor, shows up and we can try to wring some information out of him. We ask trick questions and he gives trick answers and now we all know what is happening.
We learned about a group called Reclaim our American Democracy (ROAD). Their mission is to reduce the impact of dark money on our political system preferably by repealing the Citizen's United decision.
The Care Bear provided cornbread with sausage gravy along with valentine cookies this morning. I thought bears, care or otherwise, hibernated in the winter but these items just keep showing up.
We congratulated our own Al Ruhlig on the great article about him in We Love Dexter.com and also Doug Marrin, the author of the article.
Dale Leslie from the Kiwanis club of Ann Arbor dropped in to promote the new location of the Kiwanis thrift store on Jackson Road near Staebler (across from Menards). Top quality used goods at rock bottom prices with all profits reinvested in community projects.
And speaking of community service.....we reviewed the status of the taxability of our very own wellness center. Apparently we are still waiting for the Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether it wants to hear the appeal.
The City of Dexter facilities committee has morphed into a council committee of the whole and has taken on the added responsibility of finding a good home for the new leaf snorking machine. Those of you who are still worried about nuclear war with North Korea should take the time to learn more about the care of leaf snorking machines. All government is local.
One of our new attendees brought up the subject of parking in downtown Dexter. We really have not talked about this very much but we did find out that the city commissioned a parking study recently. It found that a lack of enforcement of current parking limits was a part of the problem along with either a lack of knowledge of or a lack of willingness to walk a little distance from available spots off of Main Street.
This led to a discussion about the high cost of housing in the Dexter area. It was mentioned that real estate listings recently showed only 26 houses for sale in the Dexter school district that were under $600,000 with several over $1,000,000. Another report showed Dexter to be the 9th wealthiest school district (out of over 500) by income in Michigan. This gave Julie Stone from E4DS (Excellence 4 Dexter Students) a chance to promote that group's effort to "preserve, support and expand critical programs for our kids".
Karl Fink encouraged attendance at the next meeting of the Dexter United Methodist Men's (men being loosely defined as all persons) breakfast on Saturday, February 10 at 8:00 AM where the speaker will be Joe Evans talking about the Dexter Rotary Club's STRIVE program which supports students in our alternative high school program.
Michael Champ encouraged attendance at the next Coffee and Conversation at St. James Episcopal Church on Thursday, February 15 at 6:30 PM where the topic will be human trafficking also known as sex slavery.
Jason Maciejewski promoted the Change Makers Boot Camp sponsored by the Huron River Watershed Council. Info at www.hrwc.org
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1-20-18 Our secret admirer brought us apples today. Just the right size, too. It is nice to be appreciated.
Geoff Baker gave a shout out to the Dexter boy's basketball team for their exciting victory over Chelsea 52-50.
Folks were curious about the impact of the federal shutdown on local government. It seemed to be the consensus of our elected officials that the shutdown has little effect on any level of government - including the federal level. Everybody just goes about their duties until the folks in Washington smell the coffee and get down to business.
We had a meteor. Finally, we were in the national news for something other than dirty water and abusing gymnasts.
We rely on 'those present' to create our agenda at each meeting. Things are a little slow right now on the political front and we have run out of intersections to propose for roundabouts so we charted a little new territory by doing a rundown on the candidates for governor. We will have a new governor since terms limits apply to our current leader. Each party has four declared candidates so we solicited positive comments about all eight. We had folks in the room who had connections with all of them so we got a nice preview of the upcoming August primary. We will keep the stump handy just in case any of them want to address our group.
——————————————————————————-- 1-6-18 The new year began with a mystery gift of 3 packages of mini-cupcakes from someone called our Care Bear. A really nice stuffed bear came with the gift. We are grateful and we left the bear to be recovered by the mystery donor.
First up on the agenda was sewage - sewage treatment to be precise. Our friend Mona Walz wanted to know if the proposed 5.5 million dollar improvement to the city of Dexter's waste water treatment system was designed to accommodate existing users or to make room for proposed new developments. Knowledgeable insiders assured us that the improvements are to meet current standards and provide needed updates to a system dating to 1977, but that improvements are being designed with expansion in mind just in case the need arises.
Mary Ellen Miller was curious about the impact of the University acquiring a 49% share of St. Joseph Mercy - Chelsea Hospital. As usual, we had people present with inside knowledge of the situation and the consensus is that the merger is a plus for area residents. We will have better access to more specialty doctors and easier parking than in Ann Arbor.
The five way intersection at Central/Mast/Joy/ Huron River Drive has now become a permanent part of our agenda. We learned today that the party store may relocate to a new building also at that intersection and that, even though traffic volume is high, accident rates are low in that area. Help is not on the way. Drive carefully.
Paul Cousins informed us that the fire/police/municipal facilities issue is back on the agenda. Had this issue been resolved twenty years ago when first raised we might now be talking about it being out of date so as we move forward it is like skipping a generation. It's like having grandchildren without all the trouble of having to raise their parents.
12-6 17 "Twas the week before Christmas at ye olde Dexter Forum not a soul was a missing so we had a quorum. etc.......
We introduced all the new people including Susan Shink, a newly announced candidate for county commissioner on the Webster side of town.
We got another update on what used to be the Mill Creek Sporting Goods site and apparently won't ever be a beer garden/outdoor recreation center. The owners are entertaining offers and even though it won't be a fishing facility they seem to have some nibbles.
There are eight groups out there trying to get issues on the November state ballot. (This is actually a symptom of a legislature that is not listening to the people. I am told that sometimes there are 50-60 issues on the ballot in California where dysfunction is an art form.) We kicked around the issue of a part-time legislature. Donna Lasinski, our state representative, was a good source of information on the issue. Something about setting legislative pay at one half the average teacher pay and cutting or eliminating staff. There were not a lot of folks with firm opinions one way or the other (yet) but having both term limits and part timers would seem to result in a major transfer of power to some other location. We will follow this and the other seven issues as we roll on to November.
It was noted that the City held a well attended visioning session for the Broad Street redevelopment project. The recently approved project for an adjacent piece of land did not involve a visioning session since it is privately owned. All they had to do was follow the zoning rules. The City owns the Broad Street properties, and Broad Street itself for that matter, so the council can take a stronger hand before they decide to sell the property. When all is said and done there will be a mix of residences, retail businesses, parking and open space in one configuration or another and based on all the interest and effort being expended it will probably be quite nice - certainly nicer than having a factory dominate the beautiful riverfront.
We mourned the loss of the cobblestone house on the corner of Baker and Shield. As it happens our own Mona Walz is the mother of the owner and she assured us that all reasonable efforts were made to save the structure. A new home will be built on the site.
We wrapped up with a plea to get folks to use their turn signals particularly as they navigate the new roundabouts. This being a friendly forum it was noted that both left and right turn signals will be equally respected.
There were lots of warm wishes on the way out . The goal of the Forum is to provide a place to listen and learn but it seems like it has also become a place to make new friends. That's a good thing.
Karl Fink and guest Dexter Forum leader Caryl Burke led a lively discussion on a range of topics, including a proposed Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority master plan that includes closing the Hudson Mills golf course and repurposing the land.
The HCMA Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the plan at its June 8 meeting at 10:30 a.m. at the HCMA’s Administrative Offices, 13000 High Ridge Dr., Brighton.
Caryl gave a fundraising update on Gordon Hall. The Jeffris Family Foundation of Wisconsin has offered a $400,000 matching grant to restore the home’s interior to what it looked like when Judge Dexter lived there. The Dexter Area Historical Society needs to raise $800,000 within the next 18 months to receive the grant. Save the date: the 2nd Annual Gordon Hall Days will be held June 17-18 with a country fair theme.
Dexter District Library Director Paul McCann reported the library is installing a terrace behind the library facing the park. The project, funded by a $5,000 donation from the Dexter Garden Club, will be completed in the next three to four weeks.
Paul talked about the challenges of communicating with constituents in this time of fragmented media and listed the multiple media the library uses, including a newsletter that is mailed to all residents of the Dexter School District five times a year, the library’s web site and events calendar, Facebook, MLive, We Love Dexter, and the Dexter Chamber of Commerce. The library presents 300 programs a year for children and adults and also is used by community organizations.
Washtenaw County Commissioner Michelle Deatrick, vice chair of the board of commissioners, talked about the county’s Salem Township landfill and the solid waste planning process.
We also discussed the status of litigation regarding the Gelman/Pall Corp. dioxane plume.
The Forum adjourned promptly, as always, so participants could take advantage of Dexter’s multiple spring activities, including three plant sales. A cautionary word from Al Ruhlig: Wait a few days to plant tomatoes or you may have to dig them up and replant. It needs to warm up.
Many Thanks to Mary Jo Frank for taking the notes. John Hansen
Everyone was on high alert today at the Forum in anticipation of some form of April fool prank but we were all well behaved and we stuck to our agenda.
Fred Fry, a Lansing resident, visited with the intention of trying to get a Forum style group started in his area.
Ray Tell was seeking more information about the Dexter-Chelsea trail along the route of the little railroad that wasn't. Surveyors and lawyers seem to be the current winners.
We learned that the Dexter schools will place a $71M bond issue on the August ballot. The bond will fund a new K-2 elementary school along with improvements in technology, security and transportation.
Ganem Marouf, from SRSLY, let us know that the red barrel program is back up and operating at the police station. He also noted that the groups focus on substance abuse prevention is focusing more on marijuana these days given the complications related to medical use and possible full legalization.
Dan Chapman caught the fire department playing around with a fancy ladder truck that we all decided was probably a demonstrator model. We then learned that our current ladder truck has been 'out of service' for a couple of years and is resting comfortably at the Webster Township station.
Julie Stone celebrated E4DS (Excellence for Dexter Students) first big victory in the funding of a week long experience for all of our 6th graders at EMU and let us know that they have begun their fund raising drive for next year.
Julie Halpert (not present), the Community Observer reporter who sought our input for her article about Tim Walberg is now doing an article on broadband access in the townships. She would like anyone who has an interest in this subject to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org