(March 06, 2014)
Village of Elk Rapids: Vacancies on county committees, frozen water pipes addressed
By - Dolores Hibbard, Contributing Writer (March 06, 2014)
At the recent village council meeting, Jim Janisse chaired the meeting because Dan Reszka was absent due to illness.
During Citizen Comments, Jan Bassett notified the council about the Community Awards Dinner to be held on Friday, May 30 at HERTHA at 7:30 p.m. The dinner, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, provides local organizations an opportunity to publicly recognize outstanding individuals within their membership. Jan encouraged the council to grant the Irv Mumma Award, which is named in honor of a local person.
Ed Boettcher, Antrim County Commissioner, addressed the council about current vacancies on county committees. He encouraged Elk Rapids residents to apply for these positions. The committees with openings include: Economic Development, Housing, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Planning and Solid Waste and Recycling. Interested parties may contact the County Commission offices for an application.
Village Manager Marcia Price suggested the council arrange a work session with the financial advisor assisting the Waste Water Treatment Plant Committee to determine necessary amendments to the existing rate ordinance. The council set the date for March 24 at 6 p.m. to meet.
The Downtown Development Authority representative announced the Webinar Series to be held at the Government Center, March 20 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. The programs deal with the development of local business districts. The programs are free and residents are encouraged to attend.
There was a lengthy discussion concerning frozen water pipes, as a result of the recent cold weather: who was affected, where the problems are, and how to handle the cost of preventive measures. Elk Rapids has seen few cases due to the way our water lines are “looped,” according to DPW Superintendent Steve Breece. Frozen pipes outside of the household connection are the responsibility of the village. However, frozen pipes inside a household are the owner’s responsibility. Continually running a stream of water through the system will prevent costly repairs and will likely cause an increase in the water bill. If homeowners plan to run their water, they need to inform the village they are doing so. It might be necessary to sign a form at the village offices. The council voted to provide a $20 credit to those households who have registered. The adjustment would not occur on the first bill, but should be listed as a credit on the next bill.
Chief of Police, Tom Emerson, reported that Officer Chuck Horn is participating in team training, so he may work in the Elk Rapids Schools with the teachers and students on safety issues. This program was successful last year. The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 17 at 7 p.m.
Elk Rapids Schools School Board Update
By - Cassaundra Cohrs, Contributing Writer (March 06, 2014)
The school board began its biweekly meeting by approving two personnel changes: the hiring of Angela Ardelean as an instructional paraprofessional at Mill Creek elementary and the retirement of high school language arts teacher Lin Opgenorth.
Board members then discussed concerns over how to accommodate government mandates regarding the district’s extra snow days. The district has already exceeded its snow day allowance by four days. Mill Creek has two additional days on top of that because of a boiler breakdown. The board is considering Easter Monday, June fifth through sixth, Good Friday and the Friday before spring break as possible make-up days. If the district has additional snow days it may have to extend the school year further. A state legislature bill that would allow districts to add additional time onto the school day instead of additional days may pass before the end of the school year. Until then, however, the district can only add days. The board will hopefully have a concrete schedule to send to parents by the end of the week.
In his curriculum report, Rick Martel discussed new standards from the legislature for the availability of online classes. He felt that since it has been offering online classes for approximately five years it would not be as difficult to implement the new standards as it will be for other schools. Martel also announced the curriculum committee’s intention of inviting two parent representatives to attend its meetings.
Regarding the district’s budget, Rod Trautman reported that like most districts in the ISD Elk Rapids is currently operating on a deficit and will have to accommodate the shortfall in the future. Following this discussion of the budget, the parent of two students in Elk Rapids addressed the board with concerns that the board would cut funding for zero hour jazz band. The board cited the band as a priority and reassured the parent that it would try to retain the funding for the class.
In his report, Superintendent Prissel then informed the board that MEAP results had returned and that students in grades three through eight had done well in reading and in math. Elk Rapids achieved the second highest scores in reading in the ISD. At the high school, students are now taking the Michigan Merit Exam and the ACT. The Elk Rapids School Board’s next meeting will be held March 17 at 6 p.m.
YOUR LETTERS: State revenue surplus at expense of community mental health programs
(March 06, 2014)
Governor Snyder’s upbeat message on the 2015 budget left out an important fact: that in a time of state revenue surplus about $180 million in State general funds is being removed from community mental health programs in Michigan. The reason for this is simple. Optimism about coverage under Healthy Michigan (Medicaid expansion) has led the administration to assume that mental health clients currently being served with GF dollars will be eligible for expanded Medicaid. But it is not at all clear this is true, and without thoughtful implementation of this new benefit, many Michigan residents could be left without coverage.
The problem: Enrollment in the Healthy Michigan program will take months to “ramp up” to the estimated 400,000 persons projected as eligible, and it’s starting late – April 1 not January 1. Money must be available to support services provided to these people until their Medicaid is effective. Second, some uninsured and needy people still will not qualify for Medicaid, even with revised eligibility criteria. Changes made to the federal program by the State may make the program less attractive or simply impossible to qualify for. Third, the estimates of resources still needed by CMH programs after the implementation of Healthy Michigan were too low. Between emergency services, state and community psychiatric hospitalization for the uninsured, support for persons with Medicare and those in spend down, the obligations are many and they are expensive. These will not go away even if every eligible person applies for Healthy Michigan and is successful in his application.
Public mental health agencies were enthusiastic supporters of Healthy Michigan, and lobbied hard for its passage. It is a necessary and important program for poor people in Michigan. But it is not right to claim state savings by reducing support for community mental health programs, especially until it is clear what enrollment will be. At North Country Community Mental Health, one out of every two persons who applies for services does not have Medicaid. Some are served, but many are turned away, and that is with today’s resources. Many more would remain unserved with the proposed 65% reduction in state funding, and that would indeed be a tragedy.
Director, North Country Community Mental Health
YOUR LETTERS: Project Graduation thanks Elk Rapids Cinema for successful fundraiser
(March 06, 2014)
ERHS Project Graduation 2014 recently held a very successful fundraiser at the Elk Rapids Cinema. This would not have been possible without the support of those in the community that attended the U of M vs. MSU game. Thank you. However, special recognition must be given to ER Cinema owner, Joe Yuchasz, for opening up his movie theater for this worthwhile cause. Not only did he do so free of charge, but he also donated all of the proceeds from concessions to Project Graduation 2014. We are so fortunate to have an individual like Joe in our community. He is a rare gem indeed!
ERHS Project Graduation Committee Member
YOUR LETTERS: ACRW Club does not take a formal stand on non-partisan issues
(March 06, 2014)
The Antrim County Republican Women’s Club board would like you, your faculty, students and the board of education to know that Internet notices sent under the name of the Antrim County Republican Party, recommending a no vote on school millage, were sent by a single member, not by any vote of the party membership or the ACRW Club.It is doubtful the informed voter was swayed by this unfortunate action, but as members of the Republican Party, we are embarrassed to be considered in agreement with the notices posted. We do not take a formal stand on any non-partisan issue and we regret the incident, as it doesn’t represent our views.
Maryanne Jorgensen, President ACRW Board
YOUR LETTERS: Was that “no” loud enough?
(March 06, 2014)
Now that the voters in the Elk Rapids school district have once again said “no” to the school board, and its superintendent by an even wider and more impressive margin, will their unrelenting thirst for the taxpayer’s wallet now subside? Or, will there again be an attempt this summer, with a reduced version of what was just defeated?
The Elk Rapids school board and its superintendent thought that holding a single-issue ballot in the middle of winter would be a guaranteed success, but in fact it backfired badly with a humiliating defeat, at the hands of a now awakened electorate.
I commend all of the voters in the Elk Rapids school district who wisely saw through the charade for more of our money, especially those who made the extended effort to obtain absentee ballots and answered the challenge.
Together we have said “no,” but will that “no” be loud enough?
Brian S. Kroll
YOUR LETTERS: Lost opportunity to improve schools
(March 06, 2014)
We’re all neighbors in this beautiful community we call home. Really, one big happy community that is all worth saving and investing in for positive outcome and a sound future. As for our lost opportunity to improve our schools, depending on a person’s income and whether you rent or own a home, the monies would have been adjusted at tax time, likely bringing your investment in the school improvements down to dollars or even pennies a year, with your typical personal tax deductions to offset. Throughout the year, the upfront tax would have come out automatically from payroll, slowly and painlessly. If you own a home worth $150k, you would have throughout the course of a year paid approximately $73. That would equate to an amount of being much less than a can of beer a day. That’s something worth considering, is all. Just a reminder, school millage is the way for those fortunate enough to own a second home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to give back to its host community by helping to improve overall social and economic health within that community. One common goal, you would think. “I live in Elk Rapids and am proud of all that it stands for and will do my part to help keep it beautiful, strong and healthy.”
YOUR LETTERS: Balanced presentation of the issues and costs of bond was lacking
(March 06, 2014)
In the aftermath of the February 25 special election, the Elk Rapids school board and administration would do well to remember they serve the entire school district community and not just proponents of better sports facilities.
Several things troubled me about the way the sports and security bond proposal was handled by the school district. Besides the obvious overreach of the “do-over” special election, the school board and administration emphasized the yearly $83 tax on property worth $200,000 but failed to adequately publicize that the tax would have lasted 20 years. To me, that exposes the school district’s rationale of “educating the voters” as mere pretext for the special election. In the future, the amount and duration of the proposed tax should be equally prominent in all school district presentations.
The school district also emphasized that the sports and security bond was proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy in order to keep Elk Rapids students safe. However, only $1.5M of the $10.9M bond would have been spent on security. Using school safety as reason to borrow an extra $9.4M for sports facilities sounds like a scare tactic.
The school board and administration owed constituents a fair and balanced presentation of the issues and costs associated with the proposed sports and security bond, but in my opinion they were divisive and disingenuous. The school board and administration rightly deserved defeat – twice.
YOUR LETTERS: Keeping/supporting locally – Elk Rapids EMTs
(March 06, 2014)
The ongoing debate over outsourcing or keeping your current Elk Rapids EMT service has been going on long enough. It’s time for all the facts to be reviewed and a decision be made in the best medical interest of the public. This public not only includes Elk Rapids village but Elk Rapids, Milton, Torch Lake Townships and all mutual aid areas.
The wants and needs of the public in support of these EMTs were made very clear a few short months ago. Bids from three outside companies have been received by the township board. The main function of private companies is to make money from their “customer.” “It’s all about the money” or is it “all about your prompt and professional care” from the Elk Rapids EMTs? Your EMTs care and serve neighbors, friends, loved ones and the ever-swelling tourist trade that come to vacation.
Since inception over 45 years plus, there has not been one lawsuit/malpractice complaint. You, the public, have the top of the line “don’t fix it-it’s not broke” service and they can only make it better for you whom they serve. Support your best –Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Government Center.
Tenth year of We Are E.R.! Dinner & Auction
(March 06, 2014)
There’s no place like home and no education like an Elk Rapids’ education. Elk Rapids High School is ranked the number one high school in the region based on academic success. Elk Rapids is the first and only school in the region to implement the world class International Baccalaureate (IB) Program for all students Pre K through 8th grade. This educational initiative was instrumental in helping the region solidify a multi-million dollar Kellogg grant to expand IB in northern Michigan. These are just a couple of examples of how Elk Rapids Schools are paving the way to a brighter future – one full of heart, smarts and courage – for students. One major contributor to Elk Rapids’ success is the support of the community demonstrated through the annual We Are E.R. Dinner & Auction. On March 15, hundreds will put on their ruby slippers and head to the Hagerty Center for Silent and Live Auctions, live music provided by the Zero Hour Jazz Lab, great food and even better camaraderie. Over 30 local businesses and individuals have stepped up as sponsors and hundreds have donated items and/or made financial contributions.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the We Are E.R. Dinner & Auction, which has netted a total of over $500,000 for Elk Rapids Schools. Proceeds from prior auctions have been invested in the arts – graphic arts, computer aided drafting, fall high school plays, Cherryland Middle School productions, etc., athletics – helping provide pay-to-participate scholarships for student athletes and offsetting transportation costs to away events, teacher training and resource expenses needed to implement the IB Program, elementary music enrichment instruction, elementary foreign language instruction and much more! This year, in addition to these areas, a focus will be on the Way to Grow program for 0-5 year olds. Governmental funding for this program has been cut but the service is so valuable to Elk Rapids’ families. Not only does it provide playgroups, parenting support, and early music and literacy enrichment but it also provides in-home developmental assessments, critical in detecting issues that, when addressed early on, make a huge difference in a child’s success in school. The other area of focus is enhancing College & Career Counseling Services at ERHS. As more and more of our students move on to higher education and seek scholarships, additional resources and support are needed. The goal is to enhance the process from ninth through 12th grade that provides students the inspiration to dream and the skills to reach those dreams beyond ERHS.
Tickets are still available and more information can be found at www.ERSchools.com/DinnerAuction. Any and all support is appreciated whether you can attend the event and/or make a monetary donation of any amount. Together we can pave the yellow brick road of educational excellence, from birth and the Way to Grow program through graduation and the ERHS College & Career Counseling program.
By - Rob Ford (March 06, 2014)
It’s been an interesting February in my world.
Not that every month doesn’t bring its own twists and turns, but in the last few weeks, I’ve gotten to experience a few things.
On February 1st, hoping to hop onto an airplane for our annual winter vacation, Marcy and I became just another statistic of the winter of 2014. As just another one of the 81,000 plus flights that have been canceled due to weather related issues this season, our trip to a much warmer climate became the latest casualty, as we were unable to even exit Grand Traverse County.
We were, however, able to reschedule the whole thing and a week later, we nearly experienced the same commuter flight chaos, but eventually made our way to foreign soil.
And by foreign soil, I mean Miami, Florida.
If you have been to Miami recently, then you know that English seems to be a foreign language in that part of our country. It’s been heading that direction for some time, but it’s passed the tipping point now. Press Uno if you want to be connected to…wait, it doesn’t matter what you press, you’re going to be speaking with somebody that may, or more likely, may not speak English.
But that was OK, because, ironically, we spent the week on a cruise ship traveling around the island nation of Cuba with employees from a bunch of foreign countries. Where my fellow Americans from south Florida struggled with English, the international collection of people that we interacted with on the ship all spoke it very well.
Returning to the frozen north, the travel wasn’t any less treacherous. Another trip through Chicago and it was another roll of the dice as to when and how we would get home.
In reality, we’ve had pretty good fortune with winter travels over the years. Plus, it’s hard to complain about anything on the heels of a nine-day respite from the coldest and snowiest winter that I care to recall. But this year was just not our year.
Back home, safe and cold, things got much better, thankfully.
Our interesting month of February has finished with a visit from an old friend.
Nearly 15 years ago, our family hosted a young girl named Martha Diaz as a Rotary Exchange Student.
“Marthica” is from the Dominican Republic and was a delight to host back then and has become even more of a delight as we have kept in touch over the years.
She was a young person within a passionate determination to make me a better table tennis player, make herself a better person and make the world a better place.
Now grown up, married and about to complete her journey into the world of modern medicine in the coming months, her efforts to improve my Ping-Pong skills are about the only place where she has been unsuccessful.
Visiting with her and husband Julio over the weekend, it was evident that the determination that still burns within her had not been diminished in the least. Anyone who has experienced her passion for success knows that she will accomplish whatever she wants to accomplish.
As usual, my life is about the voyages.
Some voyages never get off the ground. Other voyages have a beginning and an ending and whole bunch of adventure and irony packed in between. But the best voyages are the ones that include the ones we love, pursuing the things that they love and continuing to blossom and grow better over time.
With all that in mind, it has been a February to remember.
I hope that your month has been just as interesting.
Guest Editorial: Issues with outsourcing beyond direct costs
(March 06, 2014)
Over the last several months the Elk Rapids Township Board has been investigating opportunities to outsource our ambulance service with an objective of saving money. Responses are in hand with no appreciable savings. Here are some issues beyond the money.
When ER Township outsources the EMS service, it loses control of determining the quality of the paramedics and EMTs. Elk Rapids EMS has carefully selected a pool of highly trained and experienced paramedics, because they know that the quality of staff greatly affects patient outcomes. The majority of our paramedics who were hired were employees of North Flight EMS. North Flight paramedics are held to very high standards (http://www.camts.org/Michigan.html) and the ER EMS intends to maintain these standards. Will MMR or Allied measure up to these high standards? We will be at the mercy of an outside company’s hiring and quality assurance policies. Which option, ER EMS or outside service, do you think we have the best opportunity for having a high quality staff for our citizens?
When comparing the exact profiles of service, North Flight’s bid is $894,347, which includes only staffing. The ER EMS budget of $693,856, which includes all ancillary expenses, is a real bargain.
The standard for average response time was set at 14 minutes in the ER TWP request for proposals. The ER EMS 2013 average response time is slightly under eight minutes and is calculated on all runs without exception. MMR cited the 14-minute standard time in their draft contract, but indicated they calculate their response time on only 80% of their life threatening runs excluding those involving bad weather. In response to the question on response time, Allied stated in the questionnaire they would meet or exceed the standard. In the past few months with the ER EMS, lives were saved by prompt action of our highly skilled paramedics and EMTs. Would they have survived with a 14-minute response time?
If the ER Township Board contracts with an outside service, it can still be named as a defendant in cases involving the service. ER EMS has been free of lawsuits since inception. In contrast, MMR has been involved in a number of cases (Google search MMR news articles).
Outsourcing is unwise considering the age distribution and trends in our township. In 2013 over half of the ambulance runs were for individuals 70 and older. Data compiled from U.S. census reports reveal that the number of people in ER Township 65 and over increased 28% (600 to 777) between 2000 and 2010. This occurred while the population of ER Township dropped 4% (2741 to 2631). Aging individuals have more problems, of greater seriousness, than younger persons. Having highly trained paramedics and EMTs, like our current staff, will most certainly result in better outcomes.
MMR requires an undetermined subsidy and Allied requires reimbursement for deficiencies when expenses exceed revenues. ER EMS expenses are a matter of public record. Which circumstances do you consider the figures to be most verifiable?
In outsourcing, ER Township may lose the presence of the EMS at local events such as 4th of July, Harbor Days, high school athletic events, and the free CPR and first aid classes EMS provides.
In summary, monetary advantage gained by contracting with an outside service is minimal or nonexistent. In contrast, the potential problems noted above are substantial. The action is also in opposition to community wishes. We respectfully request that the ER TWP Board cease all actions regarding outsourcing immediately.
Please plan on attending the Elk Rapids Township Board meeting Tuesday, March 11, 7:30 p.m. in the Government Center building.
Concerned Citizens Committee, Jim Braun, Secretary
Elk Rapids District Library Corner
(March 06, 2014)
• Preschool Story Hour, Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. (If Elk Rapids schools are closed, there is no story hour) Come listen to stories, sing songs, and make a craft with Sue and Chuck.
• As Seen on Pinterest: Craft Day, Saturday, March 8th at 11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Now is your chance to try out a popular DIY project from Pinterest! Join your friends in making a cool craft that you can be proud of. Space is limited, so call the library or email email@example.com to reserve your spot.
• We’re off to see the Wizard!, Wednesday, March 12th 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. at the Mill Creek Elementary School Library Get out of the house and head down the yellow brick road to Mill Creek Elementary for a fun afternoon of science, stories, math, and yummy snacks. This event sponsored by Mill Creek Elementary, Elk Rapids Way to Grow, Elk Rapids District Library, and Great Start. For ages 0-5.
• Little Rembrandts, Friday, March 14th at 10:30 a.m. A hands-on art program for preschoolers. It may get messy, so dress appropriately! Free and no sign up required.
• Community Book Talk, Wednesday, March 19th at 3:30-5:00 p.m. If you love reading and have a hard time finding new authors, if you enjoy discussing what you’ve read lately, or just want to get out of the house, this is the group for you! This book group doesn’t have a required reading list--just come and talk about books and authors while you enjoy good company. There is no charge and no need to sign up.
Did you know?
The Library has started a Youth Advisory Council (YAC), which had its first meeting this week. All high school age kids are welcome to join and help shape the future of the Library. The roles of the YAC can include picking out titles to have in the collection, coming up with cool, fun programs, and earning some of those all important volunteer hours. The next meeting is scheduled for March 17 at 3:00 p.m. We hope to see you there!
Do you love the library? Like us too! Receive updates and information about future programs on Facebook. See you at the Library!
Storyteller visits Mill Creek
(March 06, 2014)
On Monday, February 24th, the student body of Mill Creek Elementary School were treated to a journey through African American History with professional storyteller Brenda Harris. Ms. Harris traveled to Mill Creek and enchanted students and staff with stories about Anansi the Spider, and the Underground Railroad. She brought African instruments and regalia to help weave her stories. Students were able to be active partners in the story process.
According to Ms. Harris, “Stories fuel our imagination, and inform our sense of this world. The stories we tell each other and ourselves are signposts that guide our lives. Storytelling is informative, educational and fun! It opens our hearts to many cultures and viewpoints. Stories guide our understanding of ourselves and of the worlds many peoples and places, near or far.”
This opportunity was brought to Mill Creek through the Kellogg Grant in support of the IB Primary Years Programme.
Photos by Jessica Ziecina
KUDOS: Siblings earn silver at Jr. VASA
(March 06, 2014)
Ava and Landen Knight took second place in their age groups (8&9 yr. old and 10 & over respectively) at the Jr. VASA held last month in Traverse City. The event highlights young skiers at the annual North American VASA Festival. The Jr. VASA, in its seventh year, allows children ages 5-12 to participate in friendly races with cheering crowds. Racers had the option of classic or freestyle skiing events of one or two loops on a special course.
Ava and Landen Knight each earned a silver medal at the Jr. VASA. Photo by Melanie Knight
KUDOS: Barron named Mason of the Year
(March 06, 2014)
Dave L. Barron has been named the 2014 Mason of the Year for Elk Rapids Lodge #275 and also as the District #4 Mason of the Year for the 12 Lodges in the District. Brother Dave will be honored at Boone’s Long Lake Inn on March 12. The plaque will be presented by the District #4 Board of General Purpose Officer, Bill Murphy, PM.
KUDOS: Jodi Poikey joins Toni Morrison at Elk Rapids office
(March 06, 2014)
45th Parallel Realty is pleased to announce that Jodi Poikey is now working at the Elk Rapids office as a Licensed Assistant to Toni Morrison. Jodi is a long time resident of Antrim County and has strong ties to the community. She is a full realtor member to TAAR, MAR and NAR. Jodi will be assisting Toni with all of her real estate business and acting as a trusted advocate for Toni’s clients and customers. Visit their website at www.tonimorrisonrealestate.com or call them at 231-264-6604. 45th Parallel Realty is located at 101 River St., Elk Rapids. The office is open Mon.-Fri. 9-5, Sat. 10-3 and Jodi and Toni can always be reached at 231-631-4215 or 231-632-9233.
Toni Morrison was recently awarded the Platinum Service Recognition from Quality Service Certified. This award is in recognition of earning 100% client service satisfaction in 2013 as measured by Leading Research Corporation. Nothing is more important to prospective clients in selecting a professional than the service results achieved with past clients. To view comments from Toni’s clients, please visit www.ratedagent.com. Congratulations Toni!
Toni Morrison and Jodi Poikey.
(March 06, 2014)