Squires, Copenhaver seek County Commission Fourth District seat

October 26, 2022

Squires, Copenhaver seek County Commission Fourth District seat

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Lewis Squires

Lewis Squires and Rita Copenhaver are each seeking to be elected on Nov. 8 as the representative of Mason County Board of Commission’s Fourth District, which includes Amber Township and the northern portion of Pere Marquette Township.

Squires, a Republican who lives in Amber Township, has served in the seat for 16 years and is seeking another two-year term. Copenhaver, a Democrat, also lives in Amber Township. Following the 2023-2024 term, commissioner seats will be extended to four years, consistent with most other local seats.

Backgrounds

Copenhaver: Born and raised in Victory Township and a graduate of Mason County Central High School. After working for Nickelson’s Tree Farm and Dorrell Funeral Home, she worked 17 years for the county, mostly as the administrative assistant to County Administrator Fabian Knizacky and later assisting the emergency management coordinator.

Squires: Born and raised in Evart, after receiving his doctor of chiropractic license, he moved to Mason County in 1978 to begin his chiropractic office in Scottville. He is now transitioning to retirement as his son, Weston, takes over the family practice.

Rita Copenhaver

Reasons to serve

Copenhaver: “I want to give back to the community. After working 17 years for the county, I have acquired a considerable amount of knowledge in how our local governments work.”

Squires: “I care about the county and care about the communities. I care about our kids and it’s important we make Mason County a better place for our children, and hopefully we are able to keep them here to work and be productive citizens.”

 

Issues

Broadband:

Background: The county is considering using COVID relief funds to help fund providing internet to areas of the county that do not have broadband services.

Copenhaver: “Broadband internet throughout the county is certainly something that we need. I am just concerned about the local government competing against private businesses.”

Squires: “Broadband is imperative for the growth of this county. It will make us more competitive and will open opportunities for residents throughout the county. I am a strong advocate for people who live in the ‘out county’ area and I believe strongly that we need to support any progress possible to assure our citizens get internet. It is an essential service in the 21st century.”

School security:

Background: Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole has requested the county partially fund school resource officer positions for Ludington Elementary School in Pere Marquette Township and Mason County Eastern Schools in Custer. Pere Marquette Township has offered to assist paying for the LES officer while MCE has offered to assist paying for the MCE officer. The State of Michigan has budgeted funds to assist local entities with SRO positions.

Copenhaver: “I have concerns about the county’s involvement in the school resource officer. I would like to wait and see what kind of funds we receive from the state so we aren’t taxing people twice. I am certainly in support of hiring school resource officers and I think we should consider a collaborative millage, whether it’s the county asking for it or the schools.”

Squires: “I have always been an advocate for safety and security of our citizens, especially our children. I just don’t see how we can, with a clean conscience, not support such an important issue.”

Senior citizens

The Mason County Council on Aging is considering new bylaws that may change the operations of the local senior centers, which are each currently operated autonomously. Residents who live in the rural areas of the county have expressed concerns that the changes seem to benefit Ludington more than the rural communities and are also concerned that the changes will take away local operations.

Copenhaver: “Senior citizen programs in Mason County are much better than many other counties. My mother, who lived in Victory Township until she passed away, took advantage of the services offered by the Scottville Area Senior Center. She was able to stay in her home partially through the services she obtained through the center, such as a cleaning lady coming in frequently and also nursing services. There’s always more that could be done.”

Squires: “We need to be careful that we continue to allow our local senior centers to operate in a way that is best for those communities. Issues that concern citizens in Ludington are not necessarily the same as the issues that concerns citizens in Scottville, Free Soil or the Tallman area. You can’t have one person saying he or she is going to take charge of the issue.”

Public transportation

Copenhaver: “I believe that we could provide more coverage for public transportation but we need to address the issue of where riders are picked up. Currently Ludington Mass Transit Authority provides driveway pickups. This limits many citizens who need assistance from their door to the bus.”

Squires: “I am glad to see that LMTA now provides services to the US 10 corridor in Amber Township. These businesses certainly benefit from the bus service. I do think we could look elsewhere to expand public transportation if there is a demand for those services.”

Other issues

Copenhaver: “I don’t have any particular axe to grind or any particular agenda. Whatever topics come before the board I will do my homework.

Squires: “The county commission has accomplished a lot of things in the 16 years I have served. Some of those topics need to be reviewed. One of my biggest concerns is zoning. Our zoning ordinance needs to be more friendly towards economic development.

“The commission also needs to address ambulance services. Our contract with Life EMS has worked out very well and saved the taxpayers a lot of money. But, the ambulance service is often providing transports of patients to out-of-town medical facilities, which means our area is not adequately covered. This needs to be improved. I do realize that staffing certainly impacts this as well.”

 

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