Notes from Previous Forums 7
Dexter Forum Notes 1-4-20
Even though it was a new year we began with an old topic - the county mental health and public safety millage from 2017. The millage was promoted by our sheriff as a way of dealing with the large number of jail residents with mental health issues but it was configured in a pretty complicated way that allowed some communities to use the funds for other purposes. No governmental unit in the Dexter area got any of the 'special' funds since we all contract with the sheriff's department for police protection so we don't really understand where the approximately ten million dollars actually ended up.
The new redistricting commission that will draw the lines for the 2020 election was required to mail out 250,000 applications to serve on the commission as one of the first steps in the process. Actually anyone can apply but 250,000 folks chosen at random received a personal invitation. With around 8,000,000 eligible voters the odds would be about one in thirty that you might be chosen. We had five winners at the forum. The people who follow through and apply and are not disqualified for any of a number of reasons will then be whittled down to 13. Hopefully one of our five will make it so we can have a front row seat to what is likely to be a very contentious process.
Friend Rex, and everyone who subscribes to the sheriff's department notification service called Nixle, was invited to apply for the citizen's police academy and he wondered what it was all about. In true Forum style we had both an instructor from the academy and a graduate of the program to explain how things work. It is basically an outreach program to help regular folks understand the scope of the sheriff's department and build community good will.
One of the things we do at the Forum is honor our public officials. To have good government we need good people to step up and run for office and we are pleased to have become a bit of a proving ground for candidates so we acknowledge their presence, let them introduce themselves and encourage them to campaign out in the lobby afterwards. When we get closer to the election we will invite them to get up on our stump. Each candidate faces a different set of procedural hurdles. Some need 14 signatures on a nominating petition while some need 1,000 and some can just waive the whole requirement. All need money to get their message out and they all must report all of their contributions. It is a real plus to get to know these folks on a personal basis.
We closed with an emotional good bye from school board president Michael Wendorf who is moving to California. During his 15 years on the school board the district has made clear progress on all fronts and he can leave knowing that he helped make a good school district even better.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center.
-December 21, 2019
'Twas four days before Christmas and with proper decorum the citizens they gathered for the last Dexter Forum (of the year).
Now a really clever person with a lot of time on their hands could re-cap the whole year in this manner but that's not me and besides I can't think of anything that rhymes with Pelosi that doesn't sound like an infectious disease.
Lynn Babcock promoted the new Dexter Community choir. It is a fledgling group of 16 SATB singers following in the paths of our famed Dexter Community Orchestra and Band.
It turns out that the fire department was probably doing a routine test of all of the lights and sirens in the fleet and not getting a jump on new year's eve celebrations this morning.
The new pedestrian crossings are working fine, even the one that was run over by a truck before it was fully installed, but human crossing guards are hard to find.
Julie Schumaker let us know that the Dexter Community Fund is doing well with its' $100,000 matching challenge. This group has come a long way in five short years and will serve For Good, For Dexter, For Ever.
Dick Weaver got some push back from folks while ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. There is a concern that the Army does not provide services to LGBTQ folks on an equal basis. This is a big enough concern that the Salvation Army has a big spread on it's web site defending itself against these charges. Check it out if this is a concern to you.
The Presidential primary will be held on March 10, 2020. Anyone can vote absentee now and it is expected that many more will do so. This is an election where you have to request a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or proposition only ballot (there is also a WCC funding issue on the ballot). We talked about the prospect of allowing presidential surrogates to give stump speeches but there were enough groans in the room that we will probably will let that idea slide.
There was a question about the status of the petition drive to force the city council to prevent the construction of the Avalon/Faith in Action housing project on Dan Hoey Road. We had a member of the Board of Canvassers present but he let us know that it was the County Election Commission that has the job of reviewing petition language so we don't know the status at this time.
December 07, 2019
We began by recognizing that today was Pearl Harbor Day which for many of us was the defining moment of our young lives.
Thanks were passed along to our city officials for the successful installation of the new pedestrian safety crosswalks that, even though they were designed primarily for the safety of our young people, they also work well for senior citizens out walking their dogs.
Lois from the League of Women Voters, brightly clad in her defenders of democracy shirt, gave a presentation on the upcoming 2020 census. It turns out that the census is the largest peace time undertaking of the federal government and they are currently looking to hire about 500,000 additional staff. The goal of the census is to count every person just once and in the right place. People will be asked to respond to just seven questions about each resident of their household and they can do it by mail, by phone, online or in person.
Abby Briggs, the head of the community players, surveyed the group regarding their desire for upcoming productions. The community players have performed a broad range of musicals and plays along with a vibrant selection of children's productions. We want Hamilton and Abby indicated that the rights to perform will likely be released in about 35 years and we will be first in line.
Now that THE election is less than a year away (there will be three other possible election days first) we acknowledged five declared candidates for office who were present. We were reminded that school and library offices were also on deck. In the case of our district library the trustee positions are appointed not elected.
The terms of three school board members are expiring - Ron Darr, Barbara Read and Michael Wendorf. Michael Wendorf rose but not to declare his candidacy for re-election but to announce his resignation effective January 31, 2020. Michael is moving to California. The board will appoint someone to serve out the remainder of his term within 30 days of his departure. Michael was warmly acknowledged for his years of strong leadership on the board.
Notes November16, 2019
There was some kind of game about to start in Ann Arbor so we didn't have that many people sitting on the floor this morning.
Karl Fink was on grandpa duty and Gene Utke sat uncomfortably on the right stool at Karl's request. I think they are just messing with each other but that is probably a good thing.
We had a couple of new folks and they were biggies. Chris Smith who is running for Congress as a Democrat in the 7th District (that's most of us) is literally a really a big guy. Sheri Montoye is regular size but as the new executive director of Faith in Action she is a big player in our community.
A small reward has been offered for information about the great big back hoe that seems to have been abandoned in a corn field half way between Dexter and Chelsea.
The RRFB's (I think that's short for rectangular rapid flashing beacons - some older people would call them flashing lights) that are associated with the construction of the four new safety pedestrian crossings in Dexter will be functional right after their installation.
We got an update on the Pay-to-Participate study being conducted by the school district. Budget challenges dating back two decades have put the schools in a situation where kids have to pay for everything that happens after school. The system has evolved so that some pay a lot more than others. There are so called varsity sports where the school pays a big share and club sports where the parents pay for it all. The purpose of the study is to try to bring some sort of logic and order to the system.
A group called Better Angels that is conducting 'healing' sessions around the country has openings for people who identify as Republicans (they have enough Democrats) to take part in a structured conversation about politics. The event will be in Ann Arbor on Saturday, December 14. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/can-we-bridge-the-political-divide-better-angels-redblue-workshop-tickets-69818491989
Washtenaw County will be conducting a paper survey of township residents concerning access to broadband service. Twp folks are encouraged to participate. We also heard concerns about the environmental effects of the new 5G level of internet service. It is feared that the amount of electronic stuff in the air could be related to increases in cancer and also be effecting the birds and the bees.
The Dexter Community Fund has received a challenge grant that will match any gift to the foundation up to $100,000. This relatively new organization already has over a half million dollars in assets.
We wrapped up by giving Sheri a chance to reflect on her first few months at Faith in Action. We all associate FIA with the food pantry and clothing bank but they also have a shower and laundry facilities. She was impressed by the sheer number of folks, both volunteers and clients, who flow through the place each day.
November is a five Saturday month so our next meeting will be in three weeks on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at the Dexter Wellness Center.
Sat, Nov 2-
We welcomed some more new folks and continue to be amazed at how many are unable to sing their high school fight song acapella.
We learned that our new redistricting system is getting into gear. Any registered voter can fill out an application at this time (with some exceptions for partisan office holders and their kin). The list will eventually be winnowed down to 13 - Four Republicans, four Democrats and five assorted others. These folks will draw new district lines for the Michigan House, the US House and the Michigan Senate to be used in the fall election in 2022.
Speaking of the Michigan Senate, Lana Theis, our Senator paid us a visit. She will not be on the 2020 ballot and is as curious as anyone about what her district will look like in 2022 when she does run for re-election. She also let us know about her work on 'surprise billing'. This occurs when a non-network doctor sneaks in on your case and you are stuck with a big bill. Each Michigan senator represents close to 300,000 people so it is a real advantage of the Forum to be able to speak with your senator face-to-face.
We heard more about the potential of a ballot proposal to limit the construction of supportive housing within 1,000 feet of a school. Organizers are getting legal approval of their petition language with an eye on the May '20 election window.
District court candidate Anna Frushour is now district court applicant Anna Frushour. The sitting judge is leaving earlier than expected so the remainder of his term will be filled by the governor. The position will still be on the ballot in 2020 but the appointee will be able to run as an incumbent which is a real advantage.
Circuit court candidate Nick Roumel discovered the Dexter Forum and we gave him a chance to introduce himself. Although he is currently in private practice he spent some time as an attorney in student legal services at UM. He may have some stories about that sometime.
Super proud Webster trustee John Scharff announced that Webster Township will finally be building their own
new fire station on land they already own - with cash. No bond, no loan - they just saved up for it. Imagine that.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, November 16 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center.
The Dexter Forum is supported by the Dexter Wellness Coalition as part of the 5 Healthy Towns initiative to "help connect with others in healthy ways". The purpose of the Forum is to create an opportunity for interested women and men to gather to discuss important issues facing our community. All are welcome on a drop-in basis. The group meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month.
Back issues of the Forum notes are available on our web site DexterForum.com Just let John or Karl know if you would like to be added to our e-mail list which will get you meeting reminders and your own personal copy of the meeting notes.
Sat, Oct 19
There is always something that catches the eye as you drive around Dexter. This time it was Phil Arbour who wanted to know what the little forests of wooden stakes cropping up around town signified. It turns out that these are the locations of the new pedestrian crossing zones that resulted from the cooperation of the City and the Schools to improve safety for kids walking to school (and big people can use them too.)
Joshua Kay, a candidate for Circuit Court Judge, introduced himself and told us a little about changes in docket assignments for judges. The current judges have announced that the new judge will be assigned full time to family matters.
Joanne Westman was looking for new folks to join the board of the senior citizens center. (I think she got a good one.)
Julie Schumaker told us about a $100,000 challenge grant that will double any gift that you give to The Dexter Community Fund before the end of the year. Pledges for future years are included.
In the don't ask if you don't really want to know department we learned that Central Street will not likely reopen until November 4 - unless it snows before that.
The rumor is true - we are getting a new pharmacy in town. It will be a branch of an independentpharmacy in Saline. While it will be near the old country market space it will actually occupy the space of the old Hallmark store. Opening is planned for February-ish.
You have to give a lot of credit to our two county commissioners, Jason and Sue, because even though we grill them like bratwurst every time they keep showing up. We learned more today about the potential for absorbing the road commission into the county government structure. The commission is holding public hearings on the topic. Check their website for time and place.
Sat, Oct 5,
We started off talking about spraying again - this time it was aerial spraying for mosquitoes instead of roadside spraying for weeds. There have been several human deaths along with horse deaths in Michigan related to a form of encephalitis transmitted by mosquito bites. The spraying affects only the northern part of Webster Township but the whole thing has happened very suddenly and without a lot of communication even between the effected arms of government involved. Wind or weather could put a stop to the whole thing and there are opt out provisions but folks in that area need to sit up and take notice.
We are looking forward to a report on the 'speed dating with your elected officials' event to be held in Chelsea next week. It just sounds like a real neat idea featuring local Chelsea officials on up to US Senator Gary Peters.
Inquiring minds wanted to know when the Central Street paving project will be finished. Even though Doug Fuller was not present and even though it is not a County Road Commission project his spirit was channeled with the report that it will be done when it is finished.
We had our usual round of info-mercials. Dexter is a great place to be in the fall.
Something is being built on Baker Road near the Grand Alley. Maybe two things. If the depth of the hole is related to the size of the digger on site then it must be something big. It is nice to have a little mystery in our lives.
There is a major attempt being made by the City (with lots of partners) to aquire the land along the river across from the party store at the Huron River Drive/Mast/Joy intersection for the purpose of creating a park with river access to help with the canoe traffic in the area.
City resident Sue Sherrill informed us about a group that intends to put an issue on an upcoming ballot that would create what she referred to as a school safety zone that would prevent the construction of facilities that serve people with behavioral issues within a specified distance from a school. This, of course, is in reference to the Avalon/Faith in Action housing project proposed on Dan Hoey Road across from the Dexter Elementary Complex.
Sept 20, 2019
Today’s Forum notes come through the courtesy of Doug Marrin and the wonders of the internet. Sandy and I are in way upstate New York attending her high school class reunion. Sorry to have missed such an exciting session of the Forum.
The announcements included letting people know John Scharf is the new Webster Twnshp treasurer, Apple Daze Oct 5, Methodist Rummage Sale next weekend as well as the Webster Fall Festival. There will be what sounds like a fun event coming soon, kind of a speed dating session with local politicians. Members of the public will get to spend 3 minutes at a table with an elected official. Jason M. walked in just as it was announced he was one of the people with whom you could "speed date", gaining some good laughter and remarks.Bridge Magazine made a stop at the Dexter Forum on their fall campaign, Your Water, Your Voice. Michigan has 11,000 lakes, over 36,000 square miles of rivers and more than 3,200 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, the most of anywhere in the world. As custodians of a lot of that freshwater, Bridge Magazine's question for the forum was "How should Michigan manage our waters statewide?" It is a vital question for residents of the Great Lake State.
The information from this meeting will be compiled with other meetings all around the state to form a Citizen's Agenda Report which will then be delivered to every state-level elected leader in Lansing. This is the ninth such campaign Bridge has done in 10 years engaging more than 69,000 people in the process.
Overall, folks think the condition of Michigan's Great Lakes is pretty good right now. They are not quite as confident about our inland lakes and rivers however giving them a "fair" rating.
78% of attendees felt that the government should be doing more to protect our waters by imposing more regulation.
Regarding the Enbridge Line 5 up in the Straits of Mackinaw, the room was fairly split between removing the pipeline altogether and making it safer by incasing it in bedrock.
When it comes to bottling up our freshwater and packing it off to other places, attendees felt it should either be banned or companies should pay more.
Other issues discussed were invasive species, agricultural runoff, and sewage leaks. Everybody in the room agrees that money should be spent on fixing it, but exactly who is going to pay for it became a more difficult question to get through.
One attendee told the group that we have 20% of the world's freshwater in our Great Lakes. It is up to us to be good stewards of it - for the environment, for Michigan residents, but also for people who are not in Michigan. We have to be conscientious in our approach to our water resources.
Gene Utke noted that poor water quality issues disproportionately affect the poor citing Flint as an example.
There was a comparison of our water situation to the state's roads. If we don't spend the money today, we will spend more money to fix it tomorrow.
In case Karl hasn't sent you the results of the polling, I've attached them.
SEPT 07, 2019
We started the new season with a celebration - a birthday party. We know that it is precedent setting but from now on anyone who turns 99 gets a cake and a party and a chance to share life's secrets with the group. Al Ruhlig has hardly missed a Forum since the beginning and we appreciate his quiet wisdom. It turns out that the secret to a long life is based on faith, family and farm work.
We have a new newspaper in town and it is actually made out of paper not pixels. It is called the Dexter Guardian and is available free at your local gas station.
We bemoaned the loss of our (only) local pharmacy. It wasn't so much that we failed to patronize our local business but more related to pressure from insurance companies to force us to shop by mail.
The Avalon supported living project has jumped another hoop as they received approval of their preliminary site plan from the planning commission.
Doug Marrin shared the latest step in his journey from coffee shop owner to We Love Dexter.com to OnMain.Today to cub reporter for the Sun Times News. Be careful when you retire - life has a way of chasing you down and putting you back in the action.
We were knee deep in advocates for the Lion's Club fall sports program (buy one), Apple Days (go there), the Webster Fall Festival (RFD Boys will be there), Coffee and Conversation with the Episcopals (prison reform) and a divorce workshop. (These folks all bring flyers that are on the table just outside our meeting room.)
It looks like the City fire hall project could be on the ballot as soon as May of 2020 but don't hold your breath. Our Webster Twp. friends are still working out the details of their fire hall project as well.
And then there was the issue with some internal friction on our school board. We were running out of time so its best to re-visit the last couple of issues of the Sun Times News to get up to date on this one.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, September 21 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center and will feature a return visit of the Bridge Magazine Roadshow. The topic this year will be "Great Lakes - Great Economy."
Aug 17, 2019
Do you remember how hard it was to understand the mental health/public safety millage that was on the ballot a year ago? Well, we tried to figure out what happened to the money and it is no easier to understand today. Our current commissioners (who were elected after the millage passed) did their best to explain how we got more money but still ended up in the hole since the state requires us to provide certain services with the understanding that they will reimburse us but then it really doesn't turn out that way. Sometimes I say you had to be there to understand but in this case you probably don't know much more even if you were present.
We noted that with a turnout of a little less than 10% the bond proposal offered by the Intermediate School District passed meaning that a little over 5% of the eligable voters were able to effect a tax increase for 100% of the population.
We learned that when Dexter meets Chelsea on the football field there will be another battle in the stands as the Education Foundations of both communities engage in a fundraising contest.
The county commission now has four months left to propose changes in the structure of our road commission. They are in the listening phase so we gave our commisssioners an earfull.
We also had an update on proposed changes in funding for the meals-on-wheels program. This is another one of those you do it and we will pay you back later situations.
August is a 5 Saturday month so it will be three weeks before our next Forum which will be held on Saturday, September 7 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center.
For those planning ahead, we will have a return visit from the Bridge Magazine roadshow on September 21. Their topic this time is Great Lakes - Great Economy. They will use the little clickers again to instantly measure our responses and then will combine them with thousands of others to help provide guidance to our legislature. And yes, we are assured that the technology will all work this time.
Notes - August 03, 2019
Often times people leaving the Forum are excited to have learned something brand new or have enjoyed listening to a stiring cry to action by a candidate for office. This was not one of those days.
It is the middle of summer and the livin' is easy except for a few detours.
The City of Dexter had another community meeting about fire, police and administrative facilities. Yes, they did.
There is an election in three days regarding facilities at High Point - our regional school for kids with serious disabilities. Most of us have already voted by absentee ballot.
Tom Drinkwater, from the Sun Times News, noted that over 2,000 community newspapers have closed in the last decade or so creating an information void in our little towns. The Sun Times News is filling that void for us and he thanked us for our support.
City projects this summer include sidewalks on Forest Street as part of the safe route to schools program and a total rebuild of Central Street between the Dexter Mill and downtown.
Commissioner Maciejewski let us know about a proposed change in the funding for our Meals on Wheels program that he is trying to prevent. Our senior center is like the little engine that could. Board member Joanne Westman pointed out that they accomplish daily miracles on a tiny budget.
If you are reading these notes on the OnMain.Today site or from Facebook and you used to get them directly or you just want to be added to the Dexter Forum mailing list just send me a note at -
RepHansen@aol.com I know a few folks got lost in the transition to SimpleLists. Unsubscribing is easier now, too. Just hit unsubscribe when you open the item and it is automatic from there.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, August 17 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center.
The Dexter Forum is supported by the Dexter Wellness Coalition as part of the 5 Healthy Towns initiative to "help connect with others in healthy ways". The purpose of the Forum is to create an opportunity for interested women and men to gather to discuss important issues facing our community. All are welcome on a drop-in basis. The group meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month.
Notes - July 20, 2019
We began with a lesson in collective adjectives - you know, like a flock of pigeons or a herd of deer - since three of Karl's brothers joined us thereby constituting an argument of Finks.
We confirmed that the spraying of herbicides along our country roads will not happen - now or in the future. As a side issue we also learned that the road right-of-way is typically 66 feet wide because that is the length of a surveyor's chain that is made up of four 16.5 foot rods which all goes back to something like the length of the kings foot.
Twenty-four units of affordable (subsidized, supportive, low income, workforce) housing are coming to Dexter on Dan Hoey Road. A recent open house to explain the project showed broad community approval with some concerns about whether the project was intended to serve existing residents or attract new folks. Sara Schugart and Doug Smith (2/3ds of the staff at Faith in Action) were present to help us understand the situation. They see and serve the needy folks of Dexter and Chelsea and assure us they are amongst us. The lack of beggers on the street masks the number of folks doubled up in friend's homes and couch surfing. Half of the residents are likely to be children who will certainly benefit from being so close to the schools.
And yet another topic about roads. In one of those, Oh, by the way moments, the County Commission learned that there is a window of opportunity to reorganize the structure of the road commission if they do it by the end of the year. Our three road commissioners are appointed by the county commission but the agency operates mostly independent of county oversight. This can be changed by adding commissioners or by the county just taking over and running the show themselves. Given how many players we have at a typical Dexter Forum I am sure we will have a front row seat as this issue unfolds.
July 06, 2019
We were happy to have a couple of new women join our group and one of them, Sue Waters, led off our session with concerns about the herbicide spraying program being conducted by the Washtenaw Road Commission. The short version of the story is that the Road Commission has allowed all of Lodi Township to opt out, Webster Township has requested to be opted out and the County Commission is considering stopping the whole program. Lets keep in mind that this program was about safety for drivers not just intended to irritate the residents.
Folks used data from the MSDS sheets to justify their concern about the chemicals so we had to learn what MSDS sheets are all about. There is always someone at the Forum who knows what we need to know so we turned to John Scharf, our resident chemical engineer for an explanation. All chemicals come with a Materials Safety Data Sheet that explains their proper usage and the risks involved. This is helpful information if there is a spill or fire or accidental consumption.
Caryl (get your Gordon Hall raffle tickets) Burke called our attention to the fuss surrounding Scio Townships switch to a mandatory single hauler for solid waste disposal. It is happening. Not everybody likes it. But, it is happening.
Newly elected Lion's Club President Rex Reeve wanted to know who was responsible for maintenance of the border-to-border trail. It turns out that the trail is composed of segments that are the responsibility of the unit that built them be it the Metro Park Authority, a city or a township.
Enthusiastic Infomercials were presented about an event for veterans at the Methodist church and a fund raiser for Habitat for Humanity.
We heard about a new twist in robo calls that show a caller ID for a local business name and a local number. It is called spoofing. We don't like it.
We heard concerns about parking in downtown Dexter. Councilperson Zach Michels referred us back to a recent study done by the city on this subject. While things can get plenty crowded downtown the 'availability' of parking is closely tied to a persons perception of how far they are willing to walk after parking to get to their destination.
We ended with a brief discussion about the 'affordable' housing project on Dan Hoey Road that is the result of the collaboration of Avalon Housing, Faith in Action and the City of Dexter. There will be an open house at the Senior Center on Tuesday, July 16 at 5:00 PM to review the plan.
June 15, 2019
Dexter District Library director Paul McCann was chosen by Karl to help keep order while Karl was attending a legal seminar (on Mackinaw Island). Keen observers noticed that it has been two Pauls in a row and there is a third Paul lurking out there but Karl will be back next time, for sure.
Our first topic concerned the need for senior housing and services in Dexter. The question basically was what is the vision and who are the visionaries? We heard concerns from a lot of perspectives. The city has a new housing commission that has senior housing on its study agenda. The Community Foundation identified senior issues as being a top priority. The Faith in Action/Avalon project understands senior needs. Our current senior center is nervous about the sale of the building they occupy for $1.00 a year (plus utilities). There is nothing planned by private developers along the lines of the Chelsea Retirement Community. So, lots of interest but no particular vision and the position of visionary is open at this time.
And then there is the dirt. The dirt in question was not supplied by the Russians but is a by-product of the school construction projects. We were assured by knowledgeable sources that the pile on Dan Hoey Road has a future home and the area will be properly restored.
Sue Shink, our county commissioner for Webster Township and points east, alerted us to the road commissions plans to spray herbicides along our country roads. There is an opt-out procedure that is described in the web site maintained by the commission. This was a kind of a surprise issue and I am sure we will get more information as time goes on.
The State of Michigan has narrowed down the opportunity to have an election to three days a year. One each in May, August and November. (In the past any taxing authority could call a 'special' election any time.) Since there are no elected positions open at this time it is just funding issues likely to come up and we have one coming this August. It is from the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and involves a bond to fund construction of improved facilities for the severly handicapped kids from all over the county that are served there. Our friends Google and Siri helped us with the details but hopefully someone closer to the issue will find their way to a future Forum.
JUNE 01, 2019
Karl Fink was away on assignment and he chose Paul Cousins to sub for him on the co-moderators stool. So, we had our own version of Fox News 'fair and balanced' approach.
Our first topic dealt with door to door solicitors in the city of Dexter. Commercial solicitors need a permit but religious and political ones don't. Folks were generally annoyed by solicitors and learned from others that a No Soliciting sign near your door would be at least partially effective.
Supervisor Rider reminded us of the siren tests done on the first Saturday of the month and then went on to praise the accomplishments of the Dexter High School Trap Club. The (co-ed) club has done well in state and national competitons and is involved in a rather unique partnership with local law enforcement called Shoot with a Cop. Doug Marrin visibly vibrated with interest so I suspect you will be able to read more about this at OnMain.Today soon.
Speaking of enthusiasm - Jason Maciejewski attended the Detroit Chamber's Mackinaw policy conference wearing his Area Agency on Ageing hat and found himself like a kid in a candy store when he was in a small room with virtually the entire Michigan Congressional delegation - all of whom were willing to listen to his concerns about programs for the elderly. He got in a whole year's worth of lobbying in 60 minutes and he was happy, happy, happy about it.
When he regained his composure Jason also let us know about an upcoming meeting regarding the Gelman dioxane plume creeping under Ann Arbor. We had to do a little review for some of our newer residents about this long standing environmental challenge.
Ed Francis, who has been with us since day one of the Forum, asked for a moment to give a little speech, not a stump speech, but just a chance to "get some things off his chest". For readers not present at the meeting it should be noted that Ed is African American (one of a very tiny minority in the Dexter area). Ed wanted us to note that despite an outward appearance of calm and tolerance that a person like him experiences frequent acts of intimidation. Big things like staring him down and revealing a concealed weapon. Sadly, in the discussion that followed several others were able to recount incidents involving their friends of color who had similar experiences.
It is a good thing that Ed felt that the Forum was a safe place for him to raise the issue and it prompted a good discussion.
Doug Fuller encouraged us to go to wcroads.org where we can see nice maps of all the road projects that the road commission will be working on this summer.
May 18, 2019
Ken Magee joined us today wearing a t-shirt promoting Magee for Sheriff causing us all to contemplate that election day is only 19 months away.
Today as we 'listened and learned' we learned that there are still some unresolved issues relating to the role of the school district in educating families and children about the presence of and treatment of transgender students. The board of education has a sub-committee that is discussing the issue and their meetings are open to the public. Our goal at the Forum is to understand issues not resolve them.
Our second topic was chipmunks but it seemed like too much of a stretch to move from such a sensitive topic to pesky rodents so chipmunks will get their moment in the sun on another occasion.
Back on more familiar territory we re-visited the proposed Sloan/Kingsley development south of town. It was incorrectly reported last time that the City denied the request for annexation. In fact, the developer withdrew his request and chose to present the project to Scio Township. It still is about the cost of hooking up to the City sewer system versus building one of their own. There is a reason - maybe more than one - that this development has been on the table for more than a decade.
Councilman Zach Michels is freshly returned from a workshop on fire station design. Webster trustee Scharf attended the same conference last year. Zach was able to have the current plans for both of our options (remodel or build new) reviewed by a team of architects who specialize in fire station design. Zach shared some of his insights with a group that stayed after the meeting.
Our school board is considering a move of their administrative functions from the Copeland building to the Bates building now that the kids have moved over to the new school. Talks are underway to sell the Copeland building to the Encore Theater. The Copeland building also houses the Senior Center and a black box auditorium used by the community players so there are, as usual, a number of issues to be resolved.
Dexter Forum Sat, May 4, 2019
We love to talk aout proposed developments in our area so we did - The Sloan/Kingsley property south of the city on Baker Road being the subject for today. In the end these things all end up being some kind of math problem. Apparently the city determined that the cost of servicing the development was greater than the anticipated tax revenue so annexation was off the table. The project is now winding its way through the Scio Township planning process.
There was general unhappiness with the results of the velociraptor or whatever the road commission calls the dystopian machine that is used to vertically 'mow' along the sides of the roads. We blamed it all on Doug Fuller, our road commissioner, who gets blamed for lots of things but still keeps coming to the Forum anyway. There is probably a little math problem here as well.
A crew of arborists with pruning shears probably costs more than one mean machine.
Our next topic was a review of 'the big meeting'. The vast majority of those present asked, "What big meeting?" Well, last Saturday the City held a town hall meeting to discuss options for improving facilities for police, fire and administrative services. Doug Marrin, in his new news outlet OnMain.Today did a pretty good review and you are directed there for the full story.
Our State Representative, Donna Lasinski, was in attendance so we asked her for a Lansing update. She let us know that it is budget time and the wrestling match between the new Governor's priorities and existing funds is well underway. More math problems.
Donna is the lead voice for House Democrats in the effort to deal with our - highest in the nation - auto insurance rates. She seems confident that there are enough areas of agreement to get something - not everything - changed.
The third issue that she addressed is the court ordered redistricting of some house, senate and congressional districts to correct the impact of partisan gerrymandering. All of our districts are in play. Donna is not confidant that all of the timelines, regulations and appeals can be met to actually change things by the filing deadline next April.
We gave school board president Michael Wendorf just a few moments to assure us that the school district and the city are well on the way to resolving issues related to the trail extension south along Mill Creek.
And John Scharf let us know that the Webster Township board has already voted to endorse a bill that would allow townships to decide to hold non-partisan elections. The law currently requires them to be partisan.