Scottville update, Aug. 16, 2021

August 16, 2021

The stream bank of the Pere Marquette River in Riverside Park. MCP file photo.

Scottville update, Aug. 16, 2021

By Rob Alway, Scottville City Commissioner-At-Large. 

I would like to start sharing some information with constituents about what is happening in the city of Scottville. I serve a dual role as editor-in-chief/owner of Mason County Press but also serve on the Scottville City Commission. I believe it is important to be involved in one’s community and wanted to give back to this town that my family has resided in for over 100 years. 

Tonight, the City Commission held its 1,503rd regular meeting. Mayor Marcy Spencer was unable to attend so I presided in my role as mayor pro-tem. The meeting was held at the Scottville Clown Band Shell. Lately the meetings have been held at the former Scottville Optimist Hall, which is now owned by the city, but last week’s storm caused a power outage in the building and power has not yet been restored. Unfortunately, it was difficult for some of the small group of members of the public to hear all of the meeting, due to no amplified sound (no power in the band shell either), so my sincere apologies for that. Because city commission meetings require commission action in order to change venue, City Manager Jimmy Newkirk, Clerk Kelse Lester, and myself, all agreed that holding the meeting outdoors, at the same address, would cause the least amount of confusion for the public. For the record, four people from the public attended. 

One of the actions the commission took tonight was to move the regular commission meetings back to City Hall. The meetings were moved to the Optimist building earlier in the year due to pandemic orders requiring social distancing and limited capacity in certain venues. Those familiar with City Hall know that the Commissioners’ Chambers are not very large and quite cozy. However, the Optimist building is in a state of disrepair, awaiting its fund raising effort to raise enough funds to help pay for much needed updating. At present, the heating and cooling system do not function in the building, which means as the nights get colder, so will the building. It’s hard to believe we are thinking about that with current 80-degree temperatures! 

Regretfully, the commission accepted the resignation of Planning Commissioner and Board of Review member Jerry Cole. Jerry and his wife, Sally (who serves as a city commissioner), recently sold their beautiful, historic downtown building and will soon be moving out of the city. Jerry has served the city well and, as I stated during the meeting, his shoes will be hard to fill. For the record, his wife, Sally, abstained from accepting her husband’s resignation. It’s more or less ceremonial to accept the resignation of a resigning board or commission member. It’s a formality that shows gratitude from the presiding board. 

Other action items tonight included: 

– Approving the purchase by Scottville Police Department for an additional computer, which will be used remotely by police officers. The cost is $3,319.34. The police department has managed its budget very well over the past couple of years, but Chief Matt Murphy added that recent ordinance code violations will assist in paying for the much needed equipment. Over the past four or five years, the City has made a considerable effort to enforce much of its ordinances in relation to keeping properties from being in blighted condition. Efforts like these make a community a more desirable place to live and also help keep property values higher. This is good news for the majority of people who own homes and other buildings as a source of equity. 

– Granting the Fall Celebration Committee (which will be Saturday, Sept. 11 — see related story here), under the guidance of Chief Murphy, to close select streets during the one-day festival. 

– Approve the bi-monthly bills in the amount of $33,834.03. 

During commissioner reports, Commissioner Ryan Graham thanked City Manager Newkirk for working with Mason County Central Schools to assure that its buses seek alternative routes this coming school year. The buses travel a route on Maple Street to Scottville Elementary (lower elementary) and then north on Gay Street to Beryl Street, west to the middle school. Unfortunately, Gay Street is not a truck route and over the years the bus traffic has wreaked havoc on the street. 

The Commission also heard from City Manager Newkirk about the parks & recreation committee’s discussion about moving seasonal campers at Riverside Park this fall so much needed tree removal can be done. It seems that some of the seasonal campers may not be happy about this because they have chosen, over the years, to make their campers much more permanent than allowed. This is a situation that will be discussed by committees and the commission in the next month. 

Speaking about Riverside Park, I have been able to spend some time at the park this summer, as a camper and as a visitor in various other capacities. I have been very impressed with our new park manager, Jennifer, along with her staff. I observed Jennifer starting work as early as 6:30 a.m. and not stopping until nightfall. Preliminary reports show that the park’s revenues are up compared to previous years. This is very impressive. As a commissioner, it is my goal to see that the Riverside Park campground “holds its own” and is not subsidized by taxpayer dollars. I believe the park should be an “enterprise” fund similar to the water and sewer system, meaning that no general fund tax dollars are used in the park and that it generates its own income. Riverside Park is a gem and has basically been booked every weekend this summer. We hope to make it an even better park as revenues are now better accounted for and also have increased. 

That’s the Scottville Report for now. If any Scottville citizen or business owner has an issue to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact any of the commissioners or Mr. Newkirk. All that information can be found on the city’s website: 

Rob Alway is editor-in-chief of Mason County Press and a commissioner-at-large in the City of Scottville. 

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