So, it’s Tuesday February 12th. At 11:30 this morning the Elevate Eaton Rapids Group was scheduled to do their presentation in front of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Months of preparation had gone into the planning phase. The application had to be completed, of course it’s voluminous. The photographs and videos had to be scripted. The presentation had to be fine tuned. The participants had to prepare their individual parts. We were ready to dazzle the MEDC board. One of three communities that had been granted a chance to become a Michigan Main Street community.

Rarified air indeed. The pinnacle! Then, at 7:00 am, came the phone call. “ We are sorry but due to the weather we are re-scheduling your presentation until sometime in March.” It’s winter time in Michigan. It happens. It’s not a set back. I look at this as a positive. Hey, we won’t be under the wire. It gives us additional time to make adjustments and correct any short comings.

I want to touch on the state of your City:

Financially, we are operating within our means. Based on our recently presented audit report and financial analysis, and the hard work of our finance committee and treasurer, we are operating within our means. Nice job.

We were able to purchase several vehicles to replace an aging fleet. The vehicle purchases were long overdue and our employees will be able to provide better service.

You can now use credit/debit cards at city hall. This was one of things that I heard most often. For ease of convenience this process was instituted.

A comprehensive examination of our water and sewer infrastructure was undertaken. This included mapping and placing cameras in our sewer lines to gauge their condition. This will be used to identify problem areas in our infrastructure. This will aid us in providing uninterrupted service to our customers.

Much has been made of our OPEB responsibilities. Those are the costs associated with providing our guaranteed benefits to our retirees. We have created a comprehensive plan and are in the process of working with our retirees and our current employees to make sure they are on solid ground in planning for their financial future.

The City has applied for several grants to target both the arts and housing stock. I don’t know if you have applied for grants but the term “the devil is in the details” typically applies. We are working diligently to make sure that our “I’s are dotted and our T’s are crossed.”

Our Outdoor Recreation center saw a record number of folks this year. We instituted a “ free paddle Tuesday” event. This gave our residents the opportunity to experience kayaking in an introductory way at no cost. Watch for additional opportunities this year. Also, don’t forget to check out the mini murals at Mill Pointe park provided by Danielle Raad, Daniel Wiles and Courtney Wiles. I appreciate their efforts. I have a hard time drawing stick people without a template.

Eaton Rapids Air was a fantastic success. Community involvement surpassed all expectations. An effort was made to engage our residents and you certainly responded-thank you to our army of volunteers. Without you we wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

We “blinged” the State St. bridge. This is but one of the Arts Councils efforts to make Eaton Rapids a neat place.

All in all a good year. I know that 2019 will bring more innovation, opportunity and ideas.

The community asset for the month is our Eaton Rapids Teen Center. Aptly named by your kids as the Teen Space.”

Founded by the Eaton Rapids Community Alliance organization it has been open for just over a year.
The teen center, located at the Union St school, provides a myriad of opportunities for Eaton Rapids youth aged 12-18. The center offers programs, music, adult mentoring, outdoor activities, inside physical activities and just a place where teens can go to “negate the drama’ that is so pervasive in their lives.

The teen Center is open Mon through Friday from 2:30 until 6:00 pm.
Some Quick facts:
Average daily attendance-35
Students that have attended at least once-300
Adult volunteers-100
Meals served-approx 3,000
Programs include woodworking, stained glass making and even life skills courses.
Several events have been hosted including movie nights and Halloween parties.

The center is always looking for volunteers. Stop by, meet our director Aron and connect with the next generation.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Mary Maxey. Mary, and her husband “Bud,” have long served the Eaton Rapids Community in a variety of ways. Positions on our Planning Commission, Quality of Life board, Elections board, Tax Tribunals, Garden Club, Dog park etc are but a smattering of their efforts. As I kayak around our downtown I am always in awe at the wonder that they have created at their home on the corner of E. Knight St and S. River St. A show place if there ever was one.

To both of you, thank you. Thank you for your years of service to your community. Thank you for showing how it can be done. Thank you for your willingness to do it.

Until next time, continue in your efforts to make your Eaton Rapids a great place to live, work and raise your family. I’m always looking for people that are willing to serve on committees and boards. If you are interested in participating please don’t hesitate to send me an email, drop off a note or give me a call.

I bid you Peace,
Paul