Well, 2021 was another interesting year for the world as well as our own little corner of it, so in no particular order, let’s take a look at what happened over the last year.
Although they are ultimately the responsibility of the Mecosta County Road Commission, road projects continue to be an important part of our annual budget. This past year we provided approximately $254,000 for improvements to 80th avenue between 8 and 9-mile roads, 90th avenue between 11 and 12-mile roads, and West School Section Lake Road. We continued to work with our recreation committee and added bike lanes to 90th avenue between 9 and 11-mile.
Speaking of our recreation committee, they continued to provide amazing support for the parks and trails within the township. A large portion of their time and funds were dedicated to improvements to the old CSX railroad bed from Franklin Street in Mecosta to 80th avenue. This trial was officially named the White Pine Mecosta Loop Trail during 2021 and is a nice addition to our township.
COVID continued to be a major disruptive force of 2021. The township employees all did a tremendous job in operating as normally as possible in the most difficult of times. The township did receive approximately $400,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to support our COIVD efforts. Initially, these funds were sent with numerous strings attached, however, in the end, those strings were eliminated and we are able to spend them as needed. Please keep an eye out for community meetings in 2022 to get your input on the potential utilization of these funds.
The fire administration board, chaired by township resident Joe Lanz, continues to work with Chief Sutherby to ensure our fire/rescue personnel have the appropriate equipment, gear, and training to be prepared for anything at any time. We made numerous purchases throughout the year including replacing the water tank on grass rig #2, a new Chevrolet Suburban to replace the rescue #2 unit at substantial savings to the township, Zoll medical monitors/defibrillators (which resulted in a saved life in the first month of use), fire hoods/turnout gear/uniforms, CPR manikins (both adult and child size) and replacing the trench floor drains in statin #2, The fire/rescue staff have responded to 756 calls this year compared to 584 calls last year, that is an average of 2.07 calls per day all year long. We renewed our contract with Austin Township to provide fire/rescue coverage for an additional five years at $20,000 per year plus per-call costs. We complemented our daily shift work staff by increasing Chief Sutherby to a full-time paid position. Finally, the Board presented a lifetime achievement award to Cecil Demott for his 50 years of service to the department.
We were able to construct a pole barn structure to house our recycling activities. In addition, we purchased a used cardboard compactor/baler. This purchase allows us to eliminate the monthly cost for a cardboard dumpster and creates a revenue source as we can now sell the cardboard bales we make. To further support these activities we also bought a used forklift and placed an order for a second compactor/baler to be delivered in 2022. Ice Mountain/Blue Triton Brands continued their generous support of our recycling center with another $10,000 donation.
At the request of residents (via a formal petition) we created two “Special Assessment Districts” this year. The first was for a road paving project in Canadian Lakes. For those not familiar, a special assessment district is similar to a loan arrangement with a bank. The township pays for the project upfront and then collects the same amount back (with interest) over a set time period from the property parcels located within the special assessment district that benefit from the improvements. The second special assessment district was much larger and came at the request of the Tri-Lakes Association to survey and fund spraying for the gypsy moth infestation. The paving project was completed in 2021 and will be collected over the next 5 years, the Gypsy moth spraying will start in 2022 and continue for three years with a matching three-year payback. A lot of work and energy went into both projects by residents and the Township but in the end, great things are happening.
A couple of final things from the year 2021. We purchased new software (Point and Pay) which will allow us to now accept credit card payments for all of our fees and taxes. Maureen Wolfe got this installed the last part of the year and it is now fully operational. We have a new building/zoning official in place, his name is Cory Zandstra. Cory comes to us from the Mecosta County Building Department with many years of experience. We continued to see growth in the township with permits approved for thirty new homes in 2021. We sold the last three lots in the township business park with the last one set to close in early 2022. Finally, thanks to the hard work of the staff/Board we received a clean financial audit of the Townships activities for the year.
Thank you for your continued support!
Mark R. Klumpp, Supervisor (on behalf of the entire Morton Township Board)