======================================= DEXTER FORUM NOTES 04-18-2020
The second Zoom version of the Dexter Forum attracted 50 folks, some of whom were taking advantage of the dial in version where they could just listen without being electronically exposed. We spend a fair amount of time just teaching each other how this thing works.
Our first topic dealt with shut downs in the meat packing industry. Meat packing has become highly concentrated into just a few mega corporations so when one goes down it creates a significant disruption in the supply chain. This prompted a number of recommendations for local farm markets and subscription produce groups (CSA's). We traded a few rumors about unusual places to get toilet paper like Weber's and Metzgers - one roll with each meal order.
We had first hand reports from officials at the county, township, city and senior center. Everything is running at reduced level, mostly behind closed doors. Staff are working from home where possible and at safe distances if they are out in the public. The schools are closed but the district plan for educating kids at home has been approved and on-line learning is proceeding at age appropriate levels.
Jensen's Pharmacy has opened in the former Hallmark spot in what we all call the Country Market shopping center. We encouraged each other do do what we can to support all of our local businesses but particularly this new one that is opening under very trying circumstances.
Red Cross Abby let us know that the blood supply is stabilizing a bit since most elective surgery has been postponed and since we are all staying home we are not running into each other on the road. Blood is still needed and will always be needed so keep giving.
We gave each of the declared candidates for office an opportunity to remind us who they are. We appreciate them attending and we are aware that they are not getting the opportunity to chat personally with you all before and after the meeting.
As for that longed for light at the end of the tunnel.......the Friday night concerts in the park that we enjoy all summer are still on the schedule.
We will meet this way again on Saturday, May 2 at 8:30 AM. You will get the secret codes in a reminder message on Wednesday, April 29. Thanks again to John Newman, our Zoom host and Richard Weaver our in house techno-wizard.
John Hansen and Karl Fink, co-moderators
============================================ Dexter Forum Notes. UPDATE 04-04-20
We did it! We had a Forum meeting on our computers using Zoom. We had 45 screens showing with a few twofers and a couple of four leggeds. Altogether a fine start at adapting to these strange times. As with any forum meeting there are always folks who know more than the rest of us and in this case it was Weaver our own wizard and John Newman from the Ypsilanti side who allowed us access to his Zoom account (Zoom is great but it isn't free).
We learned that the work on the railroad overpass was not to make it harder to hit but to keep stones (technical term = ballast) from falling off the tracks onto the cars below.
Our public officials at the city, township and county levels all explained how they are trying to do necessary business safely while still providing public access to the process in compliance with the open meetings act.
Our May 5th election date has been canceled with the fire hall issue being moved to August. There was lots of discussion about adjusting filing dates and nominating petition requirements but that all takes legislative action. The whole election might have to be done by absentee ballot to avoid contact with one another and because it is hard to get poll workers under these circumstances. We have 90 days to figure it all out.
Maggie Conger is still alive in her quest to be a member of the new election redistricting commission. The process will continue as specified by the new law and should be whittled down from 3,000 applicants to 200 by June.
School board Mara complimented the district's food and nutrition staff for preparing and distributing over 50,000 meals to area students. A big plus is the number of teachers who show up during the distribution time to wave at the kids in the cars.
Karl commented on the difficulty of determining what essential activities means.
We heard from both of our local charities who are serving the most vulnerable at this time. Mary Westoff, board member at the senior center and Sarah Shugart from Faith in Action both spoke. Both facilities are closed to clients but staff are working on the inside to deliver meals on wheels and groceries to those in need. This is not a time for good wishes - it is a time for cash. You can donate to FIA through their web site and the senior center will appreciate checks mailed to them at 7720 Ann Arbor St., Dexter 48130.
We were reminded to complete our 2020 census forms on line so we don't get a stranger knocking at our door. The count is obviously an "essential activity".
Abby Briggs works for the Red Cross and reinforced the need for blood. Many drives have been cancelled but the need for blood has not gone down.
Abby is also the face of the Dexter Community Players so I guess it was appropriate that the curtain fell while she was speaking. Remember we were using someone else's Zoom account and when your time is up your time is up.
We are going to do this again on Saturday, April 18. Same protocol. We will send you a link a few days before. Until then - be safe, follow the rules, wash your hands and get some take-out from our local restaurants - we want them to be there for us on the other side.
=========================================== Dexter Forum UPDATE 3-21-20 There was NO meeting of the Dexter Forum today because of precautions taken to avoid spread of the COVID 19 virus. ---- Mayor Keough was kind enough to send along the following notes about items that probably would have come up had we met. -1. City Council held a special meeting on March 18th to postpone the May 5th election about the $9.9 million dollar facility bond. We felt it was better to wait until we are hopefully past the COVID 19 situation. -2. Mill Creek Park - Phase 2 Trail work got started this past week, just in case anyone wondered what all the orange fencing is along Baker. The contractor is just setting up the project limits and soil erosion protection in preparation for some tree removal and clearing. This path will go from the south side of Mill Creek Park and follow Mill Creek upstream behind Forest Lawn cemetery in order to connect to Baker road in the vicinity of the lot where the Lions sell Christmas trees. This should be another nice addition to the city’s pathway system. -3. With the Governor relaxing the Open Meetings Act rules to allow for virtual meetings, the city is looking at ways to do this effectively. Stay tuned in as we figure this out. -4. People may wonder what the white signs are adjacent to the parking areas along Main and Broad in downtown - those signs are identifying temporary dedicated take out spaces for our businesses that are providing this service. The City is trying to support these businesses during this difficult time. Perhaps the Forum audience would like to know that take out parking is convenient during this difficult time. I know our businesses appreciate any visits they get. =================================== ================================================= Dexter Forum Notes 3-07-20 We had a full house this morning with another group of new folks. At the head of the list was Jason Gold our newly appointed member of the Dexter school board. We gave Jason a chance to introduce himself and and he brings a truly rich background of experiences to the table. Catherine McClary, our county treasurer, Arianne Slay, a candidate for county prosecutor, and Tracy Van den Bergh, a candidate for circuit court judge, were also among the newcomers. I keep mentioning this but it is still true that one of the great advantages of the Forum is the ability to meet these folks face-to-face before you bump into their name on the ballot.
-We learned from Commissioner Maciejewski that the county commission has taken steps to expand the road commission from 3 to 5 members. This has been under consideration for some time now and they finally made the move. All five commissioners will serve at large and will be appointed by the county commission. It was noted that since all nine county commissioners are Democrats there is a high likelihood that the new commissioners will have some relationship with the Democratic party. -We also learned that the next extension of the border to border trail will indeed connect Richard Weaver's front sidewalk to the southward extension of the trail that will bring him out right across the street from our own Dexter Wellness Center. The work will be done when it is finished which is projected to be this July. -We then had a little mystery to resolve when a photo of a thingy attached to a pole in Dexter Township was circulated for review. Said thingy was later identified as an antenna that is part of the upgrade to 5G cell phone service. There is great concern about the amount of radiation emitted by this device and its impact on our health. This was one of those rare occasions where we did not have an engineer step forward to help us understand the situation. -This led to a further discussion about the availability of adequate internet/broadband service in rural areas around Dexter. We learned that the county has sent out a survey to help clearly define the problem and intends to use the information to seek federal grants to make improvements. -Treasurer McClary told us about a program in her office to help folks who are unable to prove ownership of their properties. It seems that in the distant past some folks passed ownership through families or through land contracts that were not recorded. Some were related to racial red lining that prevented African Americans from owning property even though they bought and paid for it. Since you can't sell property that you can't prove that you own you can imagine the problems involved. You could feel her sense of pride when she reported the number of families who now have deeds to their property. -We never got to the last item on the agenda which was a question about preparedness for the coronavirus. This gives you a reason to attend the next meeting of the Dexter Forum which will be on Saturday, March 21 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center.
================================== Dexter Forum Notes 2-15-20
One of the great things about the Dexter Forum is that there is always someone in the room who knows a little more than the rest of us about a given topic - like the opening of the new pharmacy. Tom Drinkwater, ad salesman for The Sun Times News, has a greater interest than most of us in this issue so he was able to let us know that the opening has been moved up to April. If you have ever built anything you probably understand why.
And yes, roundabout lovers, your dreams are likely to come true if you cross Wagner at Miller or if the big development on the old University Microfilm property at 94 and Zeeb gets approved.
County Commissioner Sue Shink was looking for opinions on the expansion of the road commission from 3 to 5 members. The brief window in which this decision had to be made has been changed so there is now no time limit pushing the issue. People seemed more concerned about the condition of the roads than the composition of the road commission.
Jason, our other commissioner, came prepared to explain the public safety/mental health millage and he helped us go a long way in understanding where this 16 million dollar per year levy is going. He was particularly pleased with the programs impacting the somewhat under served western part of the county.
We had six new people today including Amy Reiser, who is a candidate for Circuit Court Judge. We gave her a chance to introduce herself and it is nice to know that she is a Dexter resident with deep roots in our community.
February is a 5 Saturday month so we will have a bit of a break as we look forward to our next meeting on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center.
======================================= Dexter Forum Notes 2-1-20 Dexter Forum marks the beginning of our 6th year TODAY! The weather was better and so was our attendance. We started off with what turned out to be a lengthy discussion about finding a home for our senior citizens. Every community has developed some sort of senior program over the years and they have evolved in different ways. The Dexter seniors have enjoyed a favorable deal with the school district for the past 25 years but now that the building is being sold there will be a period of transition to something new and different and.......unknown. The seniors don't have any ability to seek tax funding on their own so some new structure needs to be developed. Several people in the room appear ready to get involved and get the ball rolling.
City residents will finally get a chance on May 5 to approve a new fire/police/municipal building.This is an ambitious solution to a long standing problem. We will learn more about this as we get closer to election day.
Sheri Montoye, executive director of Faith in Action, brought us up to date on the progress of the Hill Top View development. Opponents and proponents have been holding information sessions.
We had a brief discussion about how to handle needed improvements on private roads. While our resident road commissioner and township supervisor were willing to offer some guidance it was pretty clear that private roads are the responsibility of the private owners.
We jumped on the opportunity of having Scio Township Supervisor Jack Knowles present to learn more about the big new development at the end of Baker Road where it runs into Jackson Road. This project includes over 400 residences along with a 100 bed "senior facility" and assorted commercial components. It is well along in the planning process and is pretty likely to actually happen. There are no sewer or annexation issues since it is quite a way from the City of Dexter boundary but it is in the Dexter School District.
Jack also mentioned that plans are being developed for re-use of the old University Microfilm building at the corner of Zeeb and Jackson. The building has been vacant for a long time and would be demolished to allow construction of a complicated mixed used development. This one is not quite so far along.
We had a general shout out of appreciation to the Chamber of Commerce for the wonderful Dexter ice festival. It was truly spectacular.
We don't talk much about national issues. It is not against any rule it is just that opinions are pretty well formed and we would rather focus on fully understanding things closer to home. But......friend Phil Arbour felt that we should get off the path given all of the national excitement and try to make a prediction on the outcome of the Super Bowl. We settled on supporting Mary Ellen Miller who's pool numbers are 0-0. That also pretty much summed up our interest in the Super Bowl as well.
===================================================== Dexter Forum Notes 1-18-20 -It was a record setting morning at the Dexter Forum. We had the smallest crowd ever (19) and good friend Al Ruhlig actually called in and requested an excused absence. It was granted. For historical reference purposes it should be noted that freezing rain was falling on top of 6 inches of snow with the weather predicted to get worse so it certainly made good sense to stay home. -Sue Sherrill presented two petitions to prevent the construction of the Hill Top Housing development. The first was a charter amendment that would require the City to seek a vote of the people prior to the sale of city property and the second was a zoning ordinance to prevent the construction of supportive housing within 1,000 feet of a school. As with nominating petitions she was asked to handle the signing in the lobby after the Forum. -Our friend Robin from the Dexter Tree Farm was allowed a little plug for his tree farm on the corner of Island Lake and Dexter Town Hall Roads. Just because they look like Christmas trees doesn't mean that they can't be dug up and planted this spring as enhancements to your landscape. -Ray Tell alerted us to discussions at the school board about the inclusion of LGBTQ issues in the curriculum. We didn't have any good information on the topic but it brought back memories of heated battles in the past over sex education issues. One of the motivations seems to be the high rate of suicide among gay kids who are victims of bullying. It was noted that the Episcopal church sponsors the Open Hearts club to give gay kids and their allies a safe place to gather. -We scratched our collective heads some more about the county public safety and mental health millage. -One of our infomercials highlighted the fact that today was Dexter's first ice sculpture exposition. It is underway even though mother nature decided to add her own contribution to the event. The next meeting of the Dexter Forum marks the begining of our 6th year in business.