HARRISON – The June general meeting of the Hayes Township Board touched on multiple topics, all of them familiar.
In her address to the board, Clare County Commissioner Bronwyn Asplund spoke of county finance planning, gypsy moths, internet connectivity, and the need to increase funding for law enforcement.
Part-time Hayes resident Pat Adams asked Asplund whether the county could help support the township with its blight problem. Asplund said she had spoken at the previous meeting about monies available for blight programs. Later in the meeting, Adams addressed the board directly regarding blight control actions.
“Blight’s been a constant, ongoing thing,” he said. “I know there was something like $80,000 that hadn’t been allocated yet, because there were still thoughts about a ‘wish list.’ Well, I have a huge following of people that has a wish list to have a blight control system. I know if the county’s not going to do it, we’d have to hire somebody to do it. So, what would be the procedure?”
Adams said he was aware that the township has to pay off more of its debt (township hall USDA construction loan).
“Maybe we could initiate it right now,” he said. “Say, I have a motion to reinstate the ordinance; I have a motion to hire a person; and I have a motion to fund it. Is that a possibility?”
At this point, resident Ginnie Collins who previously insisted that, based on verbatum reading of portions of the Hayes Township Ordinance, blight enforcement fell on the shoulders of the supervisor, suggested that ordinances she brought up at a previous meeting would have to be changed first.
Adams said ordinances can be amended at any time, and the existing ordinance could be reinstated immediately, adding that ordinance was suspended until the township could find somebody to do the job. Collins then said other ordinances dictate who is to enforce abandoned cars, etc., and that those would need to be amended.
“I think they’re [the board] ultimately responsible,” Adams said. “Just like in the military or any other job, like a factory – that manager is ultimately responsible for anything that happens in that plant. In the military, the commanding officer is ultimately responsible. Rick is our township supervisor, so everything falls on his shoulder in the end.”
Adams reiterated that “summertime’s here, time to start enforcing it and get rid of a lot of issues.”
“I know we’re not going to get everything,” he said. “But we can get the heaviest things to start with.”
Supervisor Rick Jones informed that Hayes is working on contracting with the county, and that once their conversations are done there will need to be a decision made about a blight millage.
When reference was made to a previous blight millage interest survey as having meant the issue was voted down, Jones clarified that the survey went out to all property owners, but that when non-residents were taken out, the percentage was basically 50-50.
“What we’d like to do is get this started with the county,” Jones said. “The City of Clare does this with them now. If we come in, they can hire another staff person, and other townships can join in. If it goes to the voters, I would hope they would support cleaning this place up.”
Deb Hoyt, township clerk, noted that she and Lori Phelps had looked into one of the blight programs, but that Hayes Township did not qualify, because it was intended for larger municipalities. Asplund said there was one specific grant available, that she believed is what Hayes needs.
In her report on the Harrison District Library, Hoyt said the library would be fully open as of July, and noted a July 11 golf outing at The Tamaracks would benefit of the summer reading program. Hoyt also reported on Surrey House renovation progress, noting drywall was being installed along with some electrical work.
“They’re running into problems getting supplies,” she said. “COVID put them behind quite a bit, but it’s going well. And they hope to open up again for Meet the Author events and crafts, too. It’ll all be posted on the website.”
Zoning Administrator Ken Hoyt reported issuing 11 permits in May: two for demolitions, two additions, one for a roof-mounted solar system, one pole barn, two sheds, two fences and a carport.
He also reported 911 calls were way up: 430 calls in May compared to 303 last year.
“And it’s across the board,” he said. “It’s just everywhere.”
When asked if Hoyt thought the rise was due to an awareness that Hayes had no dedicated police presence, he responded that the statistics for the City of Harrison, City of Clare and Lincoln Township are all higher than in Hayes.
“If you look at the City of Harrison that has 1,973 people – they had 469 calls,” he said. “They only cover four square miles; we’re 32. And the City of Clare, which is even smaller than the City of Harrison as far as area, has 3,000 people – they had 315 calls. So, is it just us? I don’t think so.”
Hoyt said he attributed much of the violence locally to the anger and rage which is so pervasive across the country right now.
“We’re a very unhappy bunch,” he said. “If there’s any comment I think should be made, it’s be safe, be kind.”