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                             MAYOR’S CORNER

                            OCTOBER 6TH, 2020

How is it possible that it’s October? Could it be that the summer of 2020 was lost in an avalanche of things? Politics, the “Mess”, Executive Orders, confusion, mask wearing, social distancing. The list goes on and on but at least there are only 3 months left.

The clean, crisp mornings are only one of the telltale signs. We have the sunsets and sunrises, which can be spectacular this time of year. The leaves falling. The squirrels scurrying about gathering and burying their harvest of nuts, which will translate into new trees on your lawn in the spring. The sounds and sights of farmers toiling in their fields to bring in their crops.

You can usually set your watch by the change in attire. T-shirts and shorts give way to flannel and jeans.  Jackets are brought out of the deep recesses in the closet and are donned in an effort to fight back the chill in the air.   Fall is a time of reflection. The time between summer’s hectic pace and winter’s isolation. Take a minute to embrace what has passed and what is yet to come.

On Saturday, October 10th, the Eaton Rapids Outdoor Recreation Center is hosting a fall kayaking event.  From 10:00 am until 11:30 am you can paddle an ORC kayak in the downtown for only $20.00 or you can join us for a Bunker Rd downriver color tour at 2:00 pm or 2:30 pm for $30.00.  Your registration guarantees you a boat and the ORC will be furnishing the cider and donuts and shuttle service to and from the Bunker Rd. landing.  This is the last paddle of the year for the ORC.  Come join in the fun. The eagles have been spotted several times fishing in the stretch between Mill Pointe and Bunker Rd and an osprey was also observed.  Wildlife is always abundant on the river and you never know who or what might turn up.  The Eaton Rapids Outdoor Recreation Center is located at 114 Mill St behind the Quality Dairy. To make a reservation you can contact the following : ccagel@cityofeatonrapids.com.

On September 22nd I had the opportunity to participate in a telephone call with City Manager Aaron Desentz and Mr. Brian VanZee from C2AE (the city’s engineering firm) for a presentation to the Michigan Strategic Fund.  The presentation, put on by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, involved a project that has been wanted and needed for years. The restoration of the G.A.R. Island Park walls, the replacement of the east side island pedestrian bridge, the replacement of the playground equipment and the addition of a river walk. This was a once in a lifetime shot.  The MSF grant funding is paying for 90% of the construction costs. The City has a sizeable investment as well, we pay for 10% of the construction costs and all of the engineering.  There were several other projects that were presented. We were 6th in line.

All of the projects had value. Most were communities our size.  Each one deserving but the amount of money is limited.  In the end, we were successful. The MSF awarded us $2.8 million dollars. This, coupled with an approx. $700,000.00 investment from the City of Eaton Rapids, will result in a project that all of you can be proud of.

I would like to recognize Mr. Desentz and Mr. VanZee for all of their hard work. I would also like to thank my fellow council members for their willingness and foresight in making this investment in our community.  You pay your taxes and your fees and your utilities for us to use to make Eaton Rapids a place that each of you can be proud of and look forward to returning to every night.  This is a huge step in making that dream a reality.  It is anticipated that the project will begin in late December or early January and should be completed by early July.

The State St. reconstruction project is well under way.  We will be redoing State St. from S. Main to John B. Davidson. This will include replacing sewer lines, water mains and lead service lines to homes. We will also be upgrading street lights to a more energy efficient LED type and replacing sidewalks along the way.  Another opportunity presented itself when this project was under discussion.  While the COVID was a “dark cloud” there was a silver lining. With the children out of school this allows the project to move much faster with less inconvenience.  It also allows us to piggy back an additional street project at the same time. We will be re-doing Greyhound Drive and Inverness (through the Raeburn St intersection). All of these streets were in dire need of repair and we are hoping that by getting them done now it will further showcase our schools and bring additional residents into our community.  The council and myself take our fiduciary responsibility very seriously and this project, because of the timing, saved tens of thousands of your tax dollars.

In addition to our street project we are embarking on a two phase sidewalk replacement effort. Some will be done in the fall and some in the spring.  Currently, several sections are slated for replacement in various locations around the city.

On November 3rd each of you will have the opportunity to speak your mind at the polls. Many of you have already cast your ballots.  Consider each choice carefully. Be objective in your selections. Put aside the rhetoric and the “trappings” and the things that are spewed. Remember, our system of government is dependent on you and your choices. Make sure that democracy reigns supreme. It is better to be governed than ruled.

Council has a couple of difficult decisions to make on the 12th of October. They involve community events.  As many of you know, the downtown Trick or Treat event that is sponsored and supported by the City of Eaton Rapids, The Downtown Development Authority and several community businesses has been cancelled. That was a tough decision to make but, much like the Memorial Day parade and the Independence Day Celebration, we had to weigh the safety of the attendees against the alternative.

Council is again faced with 2 difficult decisions. There will be supporters and detractors on each side of the argument.  Halloween Trick or Treating is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 31st. It has traditionally been held from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm with the Disaster Siren signaling the beginning and the end. In the past, we have also closed the east side neighborhood east of Center St. due to the amount of pedestrian traffic.  On Monday night a decision will be made as to whether or not we will sound the siren, barricade the streets and provide a safe haven for the trick or treaters.

The other topic that will be discussed will be the annual Christmas parade. The parade is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber and the City work hand in hand to ensure its success.  Much of what the Chamber does is dependent on their fund raising efforts and they are behind in that regard.

The discussion will center around whether or not the City will authorize the street closures and be willing to actively support and participate in the event.

The Governor has issued her Executive Orders. The Supreme Court has nullified them with its recent decision. The Public Health Director is re-instituting some based on the Public Health Code. There will probably be another law suit in this endless bait and switch.

I would like each of you, as a resident, to share with either myself or your individual council member what you want us to do. We are your representatives.  Our meeting is Monday, October 12th. The work session is at 5:00 pm and the regular meeting is at 7:00 pm. The meetings are open to the public, with certain restrictions.  Our email addresses are as follows:

pmalewski@cityofeatonrapids.com

pcolestock@cityofeatonrapids.com

gwichman@cityofeatonrapids.com

wsteele@cityofeatonrapids.com

spolitza@cityofeatonrapids.com

As always, support and promote your community. Help your neighbors and maybe you will find a friend.  I bid you peace,

Paul