by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor On Tuesday, Aug. 7, the voters in Michigan participated in a primary election. Though it was only a primary, in our area the result meant that the victors would prevail in the general election this November, because for most races, there is no competition in the general election. It is always interesting to dissect the numbers in any election, but particularly in a primary. For example, in some townships, voter turnout averaged at or below 20 percent of all registered voters. In Cannon, which had the highest turnout in the area, those voting in the six precincts averaged just under 26 percent of eligible voters. No precinct was below 22 percent. The highest voter turnout was in precinct three, which encompasses the west side of Lake Bella Vista, where voter turnout was 32 percent. These numbers contrast with precincts in some neighboring townships, where voter turnout in contested races was as low as 15 percent in some precincts. Why Cannon’s turnout is so much higher than surrounding areas is not completely clear. As an incumbent, I like to think it is because voters want to express their satisfaction with the way things are going. This view, at least in part, is supported by the numbers. In some townships in our area, well publicized issues regarding negative opinions of township management, real or imagined, permeated the news. In those townships, voter turnout was lowest. Cannon is a very well run township. We listen to the residents both at board meetings and by including them in committees. We have taken a conservative approach to spending, which has added over 500,000 dollars to our general fund balance. We aggressively tackle issues before they become problems, and we have required that our employees and elected officials who receive health benefits pay 20 percent of the costs associated with that coverage, even though we are not mandated to do so by the state. Given the results of the last election, it appears that that success is not lost on the voters. So, to those who did vote, thank you, and we will continue to listen.
On Saturday, July 28, Don Kurylowicz, owner of Cannonsburg’s Honey Creek Inn, Cannonsburg Bottle and the Grist Mill, invited candidates for Cannon Township office to meet residents and customers outside the Grist Mill. It was also a chance to show off his new smoker, which will offer year-round smoked ribs and chicken, and an entire fresh smoked menu at the Grist Mill. The event was attended by incumbent Supervisor Steve Grimm, Clerk Bonnie Blackledge, Trustee and Treasurer candidate Dick Davies, trustees Deb Diepenhorst and Diane Jones, and trustee candidate Mike Warmbier, as well as many residents and customers. “I think things like this are important, because we get to hear from residents outside the township offices, and that’s always good,” Grimm said. “This is a great board, and I am glad to help give the public access to them in an informal setting. This board has been very supportive of the community,” Kurylowicz added. The event was well attended, noted long-time resident Nick Van Belkum, who said, “Our township board has worked so hard to listen to residents. I just think events like this should happen more often. I’m glad so many people came out to talk to them.”
Only the Feds by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor No one matches the federal government when it comes to putting form over substance. Recently there was the story of Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania who spoke on the House floor about a new stadium in his district that was prevented from opening by the federal government because the mirrors in the bathrooms were a quarter inch too low. That is precisely why Cannon Township works so hard to keep a healthy fund balance. When we expanded our fire barn, we did so after saving up for it so we could pay cash. Federal stimulus dollars were available, but we knew that with those dollars came the restraints that would be placed on us by the feds. What was a million dollar project would become a five million dollar project, controlled by some big contractor from the east side of the state or Ohio or Pennsylvania. Cannon is proud of the fact that we were able to say to the feds, “Keep your money.” We have also run into this with our roads. Often, we have been told by the feds that we do not qualify for road improvements because, according to the feds, “not enough people have been injured.” So, we fixed intersections ourselves, in conjunction with the county road commission. Another example of the clueless federal government is this: federal law requires that absentee overseas and military ballots be sent 45 days before an election. Because elections are held on Tuesdays, that means that the fed requires that clerks send the ballots to those people on Saturday, when municipal offices are closed. There were four such ballots in Cannon this year. Those four ballots were electronically mailed on Monday, and confirmed that they were received. One was to a voter in the military, and his ballot has already been received at the Township. The others were to three people living overseas. For the feds, that isn’t good enough. Now, they are threatening a lawsuit against the State of Michigan because 70 clerks in the state sent the ballots out, but late. Only the feds. Of course, and sadly, some are using this to score political points. I am reminded of Spirit of ’76 and […]
by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor On March 28, 2011, the Cannon Township Board unanimously approved a new contract with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Under the new contract Cannon pays for a 12-hour shift, replacing the two eight-hour shifts for which we were previously paying. At the time this was implemented, our concern was our ability to maintain the level of service with the diminished hours. While there has been no significant diminution in criminal activity in Cannon Township this year, there has also been no diminution in our ability to handle it. In other words, cutting our dedicated law enforcement hours from 16 hours per day to 12 made no difference in the level of service. By decreasing the hours and maintaining the level of service, we have saved the taxpayers over $75,000 per year. Based on these numbers, the Sheriff’s Dept. has told us that at present, there is no need to increase the hours back to 16. These results are very interesting, and inspirational to those who favor leaner government with no diminution in service. One area we did not reduce was supplemental patrols, which provide extra coverage in the summer. We extended that coverage to Rockford home game nights and Halloween. The extra patrols are staggered during the summer to maximize visibility and deterrence. One of the discussions that have taken place is paying for law enforcement with a millage versus the use of the township’s general fund monies. Millage monies would be used by the Sheriff’s Department without any control or input from the township. If general fund monies are dedicated for the Sheriff’s Department, the township can specify how those monies are to be allocated. The township spends $231,000 for the 12-hour shift coverage. The Board believes that taxes are high enough without adding another millage for law enforcement, which is the most basic service a township should provide. Recently, there were several break-ins of cars in the Bella Vista area. The sheriff’s dispatch received a call regarding suspicious activity in the early morning hours when an overtime car was in the area. The quick response of the overtime car resulted in the identification of a suspect. According to Lt. Scott Brown, the subsequent investigation led to charges […]
Thank you, Chris James by STEVE GRIMM Cannon Township Supervisor Several weeks ago, Chris James, who became Cannon Township Zoning Administrator in 1996, decided to retire, effective September 7, 2012. Prior to becoming Zoning Administrator, she served the township as planning coordinator, served on the Board of Review, and was an election precinct chairperson. She has also served as the secretary to the North Kent Sewer Authority since 1999, and deputy supervisor. Prior to joining the township, Chris lived in many different states, and brought those experiences to Cannon. From the beginning, Chris’ main job has been to say “no.” This has often rubbed people the wrong way, but such is the lot of a zoning administrator. Her job has been to enforce ordinances with which she often disagreed. On the other hand, she always put forth her best efforts to seek a solution which satisfied all parties. Many times, this was impossible and Chris was blamed for the inability to reach a resolution. She never complained and was willing to place that dissatisfaction on her shoulders. Needless to say, she has developed very broad shoulders. She never turned down even the most mundane tasks, including, believe it or not, laundry. Every week she washes the township office’s dish cloths and towels without complaint. Her coworkers knew when she was upset about something because she would start cleaning with the same zeal she applied to her real jobs. Chris and her husband are returning to their beloved Kentucky to enjoy their retirement and be with family. Her husband Connie is going to play golf, and Chris is looking forward to watching her “boys in blue” University of Kentucky basketball team, rocking babies at the Children’s Hospital, and becoming involved in community theater where her thespian talents will serve her well. Cannon Township has received many resumes and is considering Chris’ replacement, though that may not be possible. Thank you, Chris.