====================================== Forum Notes 12-19-2020
You could just tell that we were all ready to wrap up the 2020 Forum season. We did float over a dozen topics or so but most of the enthusiasm was shown when wishing each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and safe) New Year.
Karl invited us all to drive through the Nativity scene at the Dexter United Methodist Church. No charge (not even a bucket at the end).
Councilman Michels said that the City was about to do its annual goal setting exercise and was open to suggestions.
There were lots of good feelings about the beginning of Covid vaccine administration and questions and comments about who, how many, where, when and how much. The state and county both have on-line dashboards with much information.
Our tax collectors reported that residential tax receipts were at or above normal but some businesses were struggling and may qualify for waivers of penalties and interest on deferred payments.
A bunch of downtown business changes were noted including the move of the Family barbershop to around the corner by the Cottage Inn, the closing of the Artistica Gallery, the switch from commercial to residential of the ground floor of the Jeffords condos and the sale of the original Encore Theater space.
Not everything happens quickly but we should celebrate progress as it occurs. Commissioner Jason told us about a grant from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund that will bring high speed broadband to 80% of the previously unserved rural parts of our area within seven years. High speed, indeed.
The schools are on break now but have been cleared to re-open in January based on local decisions and local data.
And in the true spirit of Christmas MaryEllen Miller pointed out that on Monday Saturn and Jupiter will be in close alignment which happens every 800 years and is thought by some to have been what we call the Star of Bethlehem. Right now it can also serve as our long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel.
We will start the new year fresh with our first meeting on Saturday, January 2 at 8:30 AM on Zoom, of course, but with high hopes for peace, good health, understanding and in-person meetings asap.
John, Karl and our angel at the Zoom controls - John Newman To unsubscribe from this list please go to http://www.simplelists.com/confirm.php?u=pc7UuZ8YL3Jx6avRAXRbncFLbAuIB8lK ====================================== Forum Notes. 12-05-2020 We began with the waving of a red flag concerning Senate Bill 431 which is rolling along in the lame duck session in Lansing. The bill removes local oversight of mining operations. This is a big enough issue in Chelsea that Rod Anderson, one of our regulars and also a moderator of the Chelsea Forum, noted that it will be the main topic of their next meeting. Mining around here usually means sand and gravel - not gold. Think trucks. Lots of trucks.
We got a sneak preview of the Dexter Community Foundation's new promotional video that features our own Chuck Colby, accompanied by a cast of local amateurs, singing Sweet Town of Mine which bears a passing resemblance to Sweet Caroline. You can link to it on the DCF website. Never at a loss for words, Paul Cousins noted that you do not actually have to be alive to support the foundation. That's what wills are for.
After we congratulated Chuck for his performance we gave him the floor to explain his new side hustle as the executive director of the revitalized Sun Times News. It is great to have the paper back in our mailboxes. The paper is free so that means that someone else is paying for it. They do accept donations but an easy way to keep things going is to let their advertisers know that we saw their ad in the Sun Times News. That really helps.
Ryan Henyard produced a local giving guide that you can access at Henyard.com/giving. Our own Faith in Action is on the list along with other regional groups that would appreciate your support.
And that somehow morphed into an endorsement of Shipt, the shopping service. You can make a list on the Meijer website (probably other places as well) and a shopper from Shipt will shop for you and deliver the goods to your door for a reasonable fee.
Caryl Burke alerted us to another Senate Bill, 54, that might restore some of the credits for historic preservation that were lost during the last recession.
And a few assorted items as we wrapped up. The Miller Road project has been paused and the road will remain closed until next year. It is the fault of an unnamed utility. The virus caused a lot of problems this year and is probably the real culprit. The winter social tent downtown will probably happen when all of the details are worked out. The light parade will not. And the luminaria has attracted so many volunteers that it might be the best ever. "If every one lit just one little candle what a bright world it would be".
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, December 19 at 8:30 AM on Zoom.
*******We are going to try to replicate the social chit-chat before and after the meeting that was a feature of our in-person meetings by opening the session at 8:15 and holding things open until 9:45. It is a chance for you to talk to each other without the moderators getting in the way.******** ================================================== Forum Notes 11-21-20 Lots of information to share as we all look forward to a Thanksgiving like no other. You still can't get to Ann Arbor using Miller Road. Apparently the whirligig at Miller and Wagner is done but there is still some bridge work on the western side. Our favorite road commissioner was not with us but we all know by now that he would have assured us that the project would be finished upon completion. The twisted fish has returned, disassembled, but more or less unharmed. We had a concern about Dexter water being a little on the chewy side. We get all of our water from wells so there is a high mineral content. Concerns were raised about amending the recently passed charter amendment that requires a vote of the people to sell any city property. Any amendment to the amendment requires a vote of the people as well. The charter is our version of a constitution and is not changed easily.
There will be a tableaux on the front porch of Gordon Hall suitable for holiday photographs. All of the regular in-person activities have been cancelled.
Uncle Washtenaw wants you! Our county commissioners, Sue and Jason, pointed out that the county needs to fill seats on the many (40) advisory boards that provide guidance to the commission. Go to washtenaw.org to get more information.
There was general agreement that the downtown parklettes with tents were a reasonable attempt to help save our restaurants.
The schools are adjusting day-to-day to changes in regulations and case numbers. They continue to get high marks for communicating with parents.
We had very positive feedback on the smooth running of the election from a couple of folks who actually worked as inspectors. Webster Township had a 91% turnout.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, December 5 at 8:30 AM via Zoom.
Now go wash your hands - right now! ====================================================== Forum Notes 11-07-20
With the election in the rear view mirror it was time to get back to the local issues that are the main substance of our meetings - traffic, development and community events.
We learned about the problems with the connection of our beautiful trail systems. Some of the connections are on city streets that need more clear signage and attention to safety.
Most of the Holiday activities at Gordon Hall have been wiped out by the virus but there will be a drive by light display for public viewing.
We discussed the challenges of recycling during a time of low market demand for the recycled materials. Those involved with the process stressed the importance of putting only clean items in the recycle bin. One funky pizza box does indeed spoil the whole load.
Jack Knowles gave us a little run down on all of the development activity in Scio Township - much of which is close to Dexter and part of the Dexter School District. The Baker/Jackson area alone might account for around 1,000 new residences including a senior care facility and retail establishments.
We closed out by giving the many candidates that were with us a chance to reflect on their victory or defeat and to thank their supporters. We heard some very gracious comments from both groups. As Karl pointed out, there needs to be candidates from all perspectives to properly engage the electorate. They don't all win but they all add to the substance of our democracy.
We will meet again by Zoom on Saturday, November 21 at 8:30 AM. Karl and I are considering a return to in-person meetings at the Dexter United Methodist Church. They have a large meeting area that we believe could accommodate sufficient social distancing. We would share space with the Dexter Winter Market which might be good for both groups. Your comments would be appreciated. (Don't reply to simplelist. UseKarl.firstname.lastname@example.org or RepHansen@aol.com). =====================================================
============================= FORUM Notes October 17-2020 We had our final candidates on the virtual stump this morning. They were: Rod Anderson - Republican, County Commission District 1 Wa Hubbard - Non-partisan, Dexter City Council Zach Michels - Non-partisan, Dexter City Council Sue Shink - Democrat, County Commission District 2
Michigan law allows for elections to be held in May, August and November of each year. (In presidential years there can be a primary as scheduled by the political parties.) Since all of our elected officials are elected in even years the 2021 election dates, if needed, will likely only be about funding issues so we will put the stump in storage for a while and get back to our bread and butter issues like traffic and development. We did have time for a few other items. Sanam Arab explained the decision by the arts, culture and heritage committee to postpone their storytelling even until later in the year. Ryan Henyard recommended a guide for young/first time voters developed by UM that is available at Michigan Online. Aimee Osinski asked candidates who wish to be featured in the next issue of The Guardian to contact her at email@example.com Paul McCann reported that the re-opening of the library has been going well with good mask compliance. The library looks a little different and has less of a browsing vibe and more of a do what you need to do and keep moving feel. In any case it is good to be open again. Senator Theis gave a quick Lansing update.
October is a five Saturday month so our next session will be in three weeks on Saturday, November 7 at 8:30 AM on Zoom. With any luck we may even know who won the election for president. ============================================== FORUM Notes October 03-2020 Not surprisingly we were all stump speeches today so the notes are pretty easy. For the benefit of our newer members we do not summarize or paraphrase stump speeches. We also do not solicit candidates. They find us and we schedule them on a first come basis.
We heard from the following:
Phil Arbour - in opposition to the Dexter City charter amendment that would require a vote of the people to sell any city property. Brian Arnold - candidate for Dexter Board of Education Barbara Read - candidate for Dexter Board of Education Harley Rider - candidate for Dexter Township Supervisor Melanie Szwara - candidate for Dexter Board of Education Shelly Vrsek - candidate for Webster Township Trustee
Our next meeting will be on Saturday, October 17 at 8:30 AM on Zoom.
======================================= FORUM Notes 9-19-20 Just a few announcements and then it was all stump all the time.
Gordon Hall is holding a fall fundraiser that features a pick up meal from The Fillmore on Sunday, October 18. Contact CarylBurke@aol.com
The Dexter Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee is sponsoring an event about stories about Monument Park. Contact SanamArab@gmail.com
Ryan Henyard is wearing pink and selling photos for The American Cancer Society. Information at www.Henyard.com
John and Karl are moderating a forum for the school board candidates on Tuesday, September 22 at 6:30 on Zoom. This is a school sponsored event and you need to register with the district to get the Zoom code. Contact Vestergaardh@dexterschools.org
On the stump today were Elise Bruderly and Jennifer Kangas, two of the five candidates for school board (three more next time), Tracey VanDenBergh for Judge,
Cole Miller for City Council and Jason Maciejewski for County Commission.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will on Saturday, October 3 at 8:30 via Zoom. The stump is full for this meeting.
====================================================== FORUM Notes - September 05, 2020 It's all about voting now. Not just who for but also how the whole process will be handled. We heard from Ed Golembieski, the head guy in the County Clerk's office who is directly responsible for the conduct of the election process in Washtenaw County. He let us know that the ballots are at the printer and those who have requested absentee ballots should start receiving them around September 22. Because of all of the various municipalities and commissions there are actually 203 different ballots. Even here in little Dexter we have some folks who are in county commission district 1 and some who are in district 2 and therefor need different ballots.
The county is in good shape for the expected large turnout. They are actually printing more ballots than there are registered voters to allow for spoilage. The big need is for poll workers. Poll workers have typically been retired folks who should not be risking exposure during Covid times. Maybe it's your turn to provide this important service.
Nancy Schewe reminded us of the League of Women Voters guide to the election. They have published statements from all of the candidates on the ballot at their website Vote411.org
We heard stump speeches from: Catherine McClary (D) candidate for Washtenaw County Treasurer Nick Roumel (non-partisan) candidate for Judge Donna Lasinski (D) candidate for State Representative District 52
=================================================== FORUM Notes. August 15, 2020
We had a mellow session of the Dexter Forum this morning befitting the time of year and the afterglow of the primary election. We even had to re-boot the whole thing and start over to get rid of an annoying echo.
Our first topic concerned the sudden ending of the high school football season and the impact it will have on spring sports if it is moved to spring. I believe it is Newton's second law that says that no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Football meet track and lacrosse and soccer and marching band.
Work is progressing on our new trail which is now visible from the road on Baker across from the health center.
We congratulated our primary winners and acknowledged all of the other candidates who either did not have a primary opponent or are running in non-partisan races.
We spent the rest of the time reflecting on the primary election itself. Turnout was very high due at least in part to the large number of absentee voters. Some polling places looked like hospital rooms. Many returned their absentee ballots in person at drop boxes to avoid problems with postal delivery times. All in all a nice trial run for what is expected to be a blockbuster of a fall election.
August is a five Saturday month so our next meeting will be on September 5th at 8:30 AM via Zoom. You will receive a reminder on the Wednesday before the meeting.
============================= FORUM Notes August 01, 2020
We began by talking about the prospect for re-opening the schools this fall. There is a big combined public forum/school board meeting (on Zoom) on Monday, August 3 to review the district's plans which must be submitted to the state by August 17. Everything will depend on how bad the virus is but plans include full opening, virtual classes and combinations of the two. This is going to go down to the wire. It seems clear that the school board and administration are trying to do what is best for parents, students and staff. No easy solutions here.
Clerk Kestenbaum confirmed that there has been a huge increase in absentee voters. This was expected and all is going well at this time. There was a lot of concern about postage and US Mail delivery times but cooperation seems good in that area. Michigan has always had absentee voting so we know how to handle this. It is just the volume that is different.
Caryle Burke reports that the historical society has had a good summer of construction with the completion of the bathrooms at Gordon Hall and the eviction of the bats at the museum.
Other projects around the city include the completion of the re-paving of Hudson Street and the continued progress on the walking trail. The economy has put a hold on the live-work project on Baker between Forest and Grand. It looks like there will be a Dollar Store coming to our town soon.
The Sun Times News is no longer publishing a print edition and the on-line version has not added any new content for quite a while. The Guardian is publishing every other week. These are hard times for small town newspapers.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, August 15 at 8:30 AM
*******Special Bonus Section*******
Karl and I did a little planning for the upcoming Forum sessions as it relates to stump speeches. We think that they are an important part of the Forum but we do not want to be overwhelmed by them either. We still need time to talk about bats and potholes and such. There are lots of contested races on the November ballot so we developed some guidelines.
1. We do not solicit candidates. We wait for them to come to us. In the past we have been able to accommodate all requests but that might change this fall. 2. We will give preference to people in contested races, people who have previously attended a Forum session and people in races that most of us can vote in. (Our attendees are mostly from the City of Dexter and Webster and Dexter Townships.) 3. We may allocate different amounts of time say for school board where we all can vote and city council where only a third or so can vote. 4. We will have stump speeches on September 5 and 19 and October 3 and 17. 5. We ask that candidates tell us why we should vote for them not why we should not vote for their opponent.
We are trying to make the best of the Zoom situation. The best part of our in-person sessions was the ability to talk one-on-one before and after the meeting with the candidates. We look forward to the return of those days - and everything else, too.