Raisin Twp. to close Holloway fire station
Raisin Township officials soon will be winterizing and closing the former fire station in Holloway following discussion at the Monday, Jan. 13, board of trustees meeting. Although the building was home to the township’s first fire department, it has been used primarily for storage and some vehicle repairs in recent years after a population shift brought more people, and the fire department, to the west side of the township.
Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh expressed concern about the current Department of Public Safety’s ability to respond to calls on the East side, and proposed the possibility of opening the station as a fire house again with limited use, bringing a mini-pumper to the site, rather than it sitting unused.
Assistant Fire Chief, Ed Mathis, explained how such use would not be possible with today’s equipment, as only one vehicle would fit in the building and only a few fire personnel were small enough in height to operate the older vehicle. Mathis was also armed with statistics, including the low call volumes from the lesser populated East side, and the fact that there would only be limited response from paid-on-call firefighters over there, and new training standards to become Firefighters 1 and 2 made things even more difficult.
“It would take us up to two years to even get six to eight guys and one officer over there,” said Mathis. “We do provide coverage now by calling in mutual aid from Palmyra Township or Ridge-way until we could get there,” he added.
Trustee Larry Crittenden said that in his opinion, rather than pour a lot of money into the building, which would also need a new roof, demolition might be a better option.
“I’m not opposed to trying to do something over there, I’m just saying there’s a lot of obstacles,” said Crittenden. “Maybe we could build a new one with one or two stalls for trucks that will fit. But I will say it’s been a problem ever since I have been on the board.”
Following the discussion, Cavanaugh proposed that since the project would not be something the township could tackle right away, it would make sense to stop heating the structure and recommended that it be made a seasonal building, reaping some savings from the heating costs. Equipment soon will be moved to a maintenance building adjacent to the township offices and the bathrooms winterized.
Township roads, a regular topic of discussion during Raisin Township board meetings, came up when resident Russ Mead made public comment regarding recent news that the state of Michigan currently has a $1 billion surplus in its budget. Mead proposed a concerted effort to urge legislators to channel the dollars toward road repairs rather than giving small amounts back to the taxpayers.
“With the condition of rural and township roads, why doesn’t somebody push the state to allocate that back to the Road Commission through a collaborative campaign for road repairs?” Mead asked. “I know here in Raisin Township one of our concerns is the condition of roads and we’re having to pull money out of other priorities and if we could get the state to allocate more toward repairs, we could put money back.”
Mead said one area of concern has been local funding for public safety, especially in light of some incidents last fall.
“We did not have local police coverage during those times,” he said. “Maybe if we could get more of that money, our own budget monies could be allocated toward our own priorities and maybe we could start closing those gaps.”
Having to look at line items such as public safety in order to fund road repairs and maintenance has been a concern of township officials as well. Trustee Tom Hawkins cast a dissenting vote on passing the 2014 budget last month, stating that he was uncomfortable with having to move dollars from areas such as public safety, especially in light of recent incidents in the township when Raisin police were not on duty. Officials moved some funding from the township’s .4549 mills for taxes previously appointed to a Public Safety equipment and capital improvement project line to roads. An amount of $153,881 was allocated toward road maintenance, but will not go far with a cost of $600,000 per mile needed to redo a road.
Discussion regarding establishing 24/7 police coverage is expected to come back onto the agenda soon, and how to do it, according to Township Clerk Betty Holdridge. “We’re still contemplating that, and I think it should be a priority,” she said.
Other meeting business included:
• Discussion on potential formation of a personnel committee to oversee compliance with various employment laws. Township attorney David Lacasse cautioned that the group’s purpose would have to be specific and issued a caution. “The only thing is, you have to be careful not to ask unlicensed people to practice law,” he said.
The board agreed that guidelines would need to be set as to responsibilities and authority. Department heads typically do the hiring now, but not always consistently, and the board is looking to set some hiring procedures for the future.
• Reappointed Trustees Larry Crittenden as representative to the Planning Commission; Hawkins as representative to the Board of Appeals; and Kami Johnson as Parks and Recreation Board representative.
• Set a tentative meeting with the Lenawee County Road Commission for Monday, Jan. 20, at 9 a.m. at the Road Commission conference room. This would be a meeting open to the public.
• Adopted a township calendar for 2014, to include Dump Day dates. Planning Commission meetings now begin at 6:30 p.m.
• Discussed investment in insulation for the Works Building next to the township offices. Trustee Hawkins recommended that the board continue working on a strategic plan for facilities so capital improvements could be made with some intentionality and long-term direction.
• Agreed to solicit at least three bids for telephone upgrades.