Only clerk votes no on cost-sharing plan by BETH ALTENA Larry Campbell, director of the PARCCside Wastewater Treatment plant, estimates that Plainfield Township’s portion of the cost of maintaining sewer structure with plant staff will be roughly $450,000 annually. He compared his estimate to the township’s cost when Kent County Department of Public Works held the contract—a job they are no longer willing to do. Campbell said in 2009 the bill for the township was over a million dollars. In 2010 it was $824,000; in 2011 the county charged Plainfield $829,000 and to date this year the bill is at $569,000. He spoke before the Plainfield Township Board Monday, July 16, prior to the board’s vote on whether to approve a cost-sharing agreement with the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA). There are many variables that could affect the cost to Plainfield Township for their portion of infrastructure (pipes, lift stations, cleaning, joint and shared portions) of the sewer collection system that routes wastewater to the PARCCside plant on Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids. The NKSA is a joint entity formed by five member communities—the City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. The maintenance on the sewer collection lines has been maintained by Kent County Department of Public Works, which had a contract that is now expired and that the county has been unwilling to reenter. According to Gary Seger, utility services superintendent for the county, who spoke before the board at the last regular meeting, Kent County is dissolving his department and letting go his staff of nine people. One of his former employees has already been hired by NKSA and Seger himself will be joining the staff at PARCCside when his job with the county ends. The NKSA will begin maintaining the sewer lines October 1 of this year. Member communities have been provided a cost-sharing agreement to either approve or decline. Prior to the July 16 vote by Plainfield, Cannon Township and the City of Rockford had already unanimously approved the agreement, which they believe will cut costs considerably compared to the county doing the work. “When I started looking at my numbers, what I came up with is $450,000,” said Campbell to the board. Campbell said variables […]
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by MICHAEL YOUNG guest editorial I am pleased to report that we have had very few complaints/problems with the recently approved, new, state of Michigan fireworks law. With that said, there is still quite a bit of confusion regarding the implications of the new law and whether or not local ordinances still apply. The purpose of this article is to clarify some of the ambiguity in the law to and to address the City of Rockford’s ordinance. The first thing to know is that local ordinances still do apply as to the sale and use of consumer fireworks. Consumer fireworks, as defined, were previously prohibited and they include fireworks that explode or leave the ground. The State has gone on to further clarify that local ordinances also apply with respect to noise, litter and safety. Under the state law, there are 30 days within the calendar where a municipality cannot prohibit the use of consumer fireworks. The City has had a long-standing nuisance ordinance, which regulates noise complaints. We are applying this nuisance ordinance to the use of all fireworks and prohibit their use between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. So while the State does allow the use of consumer fireworks the day before, the day of and the day after all national holidays, we are still restricting their use between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. The City of Rockford has recently amended its own fireworks ordinance to restrict the use of consumer fireworks between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. on any day during the year. With the many festivals and special events we have in the City, it is not unusual to hear fireworks throughout the City and we felt it important to regulate the hours in which they can be used. For those who choose to ignite fireworks, it is important to remember that all other City ordinances apply. The most important thing is to use common sense. During these times of extreme heat, we are advising people it is simply not worth the risk and to stop the use of any and all fireworks until we return to a more normal weather pattern. We are also asking people to be respectful of other […]
City joins Cannon Township in agreement that is expected to save money, improve services by BETH ALTENA “This does not sound like an exciting item, but it is very exciting,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. Young was describing a proposal before the board for cost-sharing different elements of the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA), including maintenance of components such as pipes and lift stations and routine or emergency repairs. “A lot of people think we founded the NKSA in order to build the treatment plant. [Building the plant] was an exciting opportunity along the way and we took it, but that wasn’t why we formed the Authority,” he said Monday, July 9, during the regular monthly city council meeting. Young told the board the reason the NKSA was formed a decade ago was in response to what members considered less-than-adequate care of sewer infrastructure done by the County. “This is a big deal for us. It’s been a long time coming,” Young told council. “I am a firm believer in you can do a better job if you do it yourself. I highly recommend we approve this contract.” The board unanimously approved the 10-year agreement with a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Brien Dews and a second by Councilwoman Mary Eadie, who has served on the council for 35 years. Members of the NKSA include the City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. Together the member communities formed the alliance in 1997 and together built a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue in Plainfield Township, which began operations in 2008. Included in the agreement are provisions for jointly held elements of the NKSA infrastructure, including pipelines used by all members, and individually owned parts, such as pipelines and lifts which are within township boundaries and used by each township. Staff at the PARCCside Wastewater Treatment plant have been working closely with Kent County Department of Public Works to seamlessly transfer operations from the County to NKSA. NKSA staff of four has increased by one former County worker familiar with the job and will increase by two more after hiring Gary Seger, utility services superintendent, and one additional staff member to perform the new duties.
Townships consider cost agreements for sewer infrastructure by BETH ALTENA “What you see happening in 2012 is what we anticipated in 1997 and perhaps earlier.” During Plainfield Township’s Monday, July 2 board meeting, Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan discussed a proposed agreement for the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA) management and staff replace the Kent County DPW in providing management and operational services for the North Kent Sewage Disposal System starting October 1 of this year. The board considered aspects of an agreement which will divide up how members of the NKSA will maintain the infrastructure—pipes, motors, lift stations, etc.—which takes wastewater from residential homes and businesses in each community to the wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue. The City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield make up the NKSA. Of the five communities that have been allied in the creation of NKSA, two, Courtland Township and the City of Rockford, would continue maintaining their individual collection systems under the terms of the agreement. Rockford has maintained its own sewer structure with their Department of Public Works for decades. Courtland Township a year ago hired a private company to maintain the sewer lines and take care of any failures of the system as they arise. However, both Rockford and Courtland Township will participate in the agreement as NKSA partners and co-owners of those portions of the North Kent system used by more than one community. An example of this is a large sewer main that runs down Belding Road, carrying wastewater from Courtland and Cannon townships. Homan refers to the document as an addition to the original agreement creating the NKSA. An agreement with Kent County for maintenance of the sewer lines expired in 2008, and was not renewed, but the county agreed to a five-year extension to give communities time to decide how and who would be responsible for the operation of the system in the future. NKSA’s solution is to do it themselves. With a competent staff of six now managing and operating NKSA’s PARCC Side Clean Water Plant and the addition of two former county employees plus one more person, members of NKSA believe by taking the job into their own hands they will maintain better control […]
by CINDY M. CRANMER A crowd started gathering Monday night, July 9 in downtown Rockford to hear an impromptu performance by the Rockford Aces. This is not unusual as the group returned from Cincinnati as the top finishing team in their category in points in the United States and third in the world. The team returned from the World Choir Games on Sunday, July 8. The seventh World Choir Games (WCG), which takes place every two years, was in the United States for the first time this year. Choirs from all over the world participated in the events that began July 4 and continue through Saturday, July 14. More than 15,000 participants from 64 nations including 362 choirs registered to compete in the biggest international choral competition in the world known as “the Olympics of choral music.” “This was just incredible. It was a music lover’s dream,” said Connor Jewell, who graduated after three years in the Rockford Aces. The goal of the WCG is to unite people from all nations through singing in peaceful competition. Hundreds of thousands of spectators gather to hear the performances in the 23 different categories and two divisions: champion and non-champion. The Rockford Aces is an all-male choir consisting of 12 Rockford High School students from freshman to seniors. They performed in the champion category due to their successes at state competitions. The Rockford A Capella Extracurricular Singers (ACES) are led by Jed Scott, a composer and arranger. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this group,” said Jed Scott, husband of Rockford High School choir teacher, Mandy Scott. “Every challenge I threw at them they met it with a resounding yes.” The group was formed when the Scotts moved to Rockford in 2008. The two categories the group performed in at WCG were Young Male Choirs, which is a classical category for ages 25 and under, and Popular Choral Music, which was open to all ages. Groups received medals on a point system. Earning 80 to 100 points meant someone could get a gold medal, 60 to 80 points earned a silver, and 40 to 60 points earned a bronze. The Rockford Aces was the highest silver medalist in the Young Male Choirs category with two […]