January 12, 2024

MORTON TOWNSHIP 2023 in review

It seems like we just said goodbye to 2022 and here we are already saying goodbye to 2023. It was another year full of great things happening in Morton Township. I would like to take a few minutes of your time and summarize what happened in Morton Township this past year.
The Mecosta County Road Commission is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads within the township. However, annually, Morton Township provides financial support to keep our roads in better condition than neighboring communities. This past year we invested approximately $300,000 for improvements to 80th avenue from 6 to 9-mile roads, Forest Pines Drive, and 7-Mile road from Madison to 80th avenue. We continued our annual dust control contract with the county for the gravel roads within the township.
If you were not aware, Morton Township has a fire administration board that is composed of the following township residents; Art Diehm, Janice Covey, John Fields, Joe Lanz and John Richmond. The fire administrative board continues to work with Chief Sutherby and reviews everything fire department related before it is presented to the Township Board to ensure our fire/rescue personnel have the appropriate equipment, gear, and training to be fully prepared to protect and serve you. Due to the incredible increase in costs we approved new chassis and the refurbishing of our two tanker trucks at a total cost of $355,000 per truck compared to the cost of one new truck in the $650-$750,000 range in addition to a two year waiting period. We
should receive the first one in early 2024. Thanks to Lakeside Motorsports and Can-Am we were given a side by side unit for our department’s use for the next year. Utilizing some of our ARPA Grant funds we installed a new 1,000 gallon per minute fire suppression well next to our recycle center. This well will provide direct coverage to facilities located in our business park in addition to providing a filling location in that quadrant of the township. We also update our paging and reporting system as part of a regional project. The new system has a component that allows residents to securely share important information that will assist in case we are dispatched to your home or business. Please go to our website and check out the “Community Connect” link. Two iPads were purchased for each rescue vehicle to increase our efficiency in both response time and paper-work completion. Building upgrades included a new entry door, keyless entry system and additional cameras for station 2. We received a grant to fully fund the addition of a $75,000 exhaust removal system at station 1 with installation to take place the first part of 2024. Finally, due to difficulty in filling our day shift with part time staff we were able to alleviate the issue by posting and hiring the Township’s first ever full time fire/rescue staff member who started at the end of December. The fire/rescue department continues to be busy and have responded to 752 calls this year compared to 744 calls last year, that is an average of 2.06 calls per day all year long. We continue to contract with neighboring Austin Township to provide fire/rescue coverage to their residents at a $20,000 per year base fee, plus per-call costs.
We average approximately 200 cars per week using the recycle center. Ice Mountain/Blue Triton Brands provided their annual $10,000 donation to assist our recycling efforts, we appreciate their generous support. We changed the direction of traffic flow this year to avoid backups on 9-Mile road. The change appears to be working great, thank you for your patience during this change. Our annual township wide clean-up day was held at the recycle facility and continues to be a huge success. We added painted lines to the parking lot this year to assist with traffic organization.
The Tri-Lakes Spongy Moth (formerly known as Gypsy moth) Special Assessment District allowed us to spray 637 acres in 2023. The spraying was year two of a three year plan. A survey has already been completed by the biologist and plans are being made for spraying 306 acres in the Spring of 2024.
New additions and upgrades to our facilities included a remodel of our front office area. removal of a nuisance power pole that blocked our hall entrance, new carpet throughout the township hall, installation of handicap accessible secure entry doors and a new PA system for the meeting room. For office equipment we purchased a new shredder, refurbished folder/inserter/sealer, and new voting tabulator for absentee ballots. We approved new LED lighting for the Township Library facility. Based on customer use data, we changed office hours on Fridays to 8:00 AM – Noon. A tree service company was hired to remove and trim trees and shrubs in our cemetery on 70th avenue. Despite our best efforts, our attempt to operate a
farmers market in our business park was not successful. Finally, we were able to purchase 31 acres of land on 80th avenue that adjoins our existing 21 acres and our Mecosta Loop White Pine Trail to give us 52 acres for future development.
Township Assessor Seth Lattimore reports values in the township are staying in line with the rising market conditions as we added just over $17 million in true cash value of new residential construction.
The building trend remained healthy in the township with permits approved for twenty-three new homes in 2023 down slightly from twenty-six the previous year. From a zoning standpoint, we worked with our legal counsel and obtained a court judgment to stop an illegal roadside stand and utilized our dangerous building ordinance to bring a property into compliance. In October, we approved a special use permit for a new storage facility on 90th avenue (between Royalview and Pizza Vibes).
We supported the following community activities; $4,000 Library Literacy program, $2,300 to Hazardous Household Waste Program, $1,200 each for Village of Mecosta Music on the River and Canadian Lakes Reuther Music Pavilion, $2,000 Mecosta County Economic Development Corporation, and $500 for 4th of July fireworks.
Thanks to the hard work of Treasurer Maureen Wolfe we again received a clean financial audit of the Township’s accounting activities for the year. In November, we said goodbye to our outstanding clerk, Stephanie McNeal, and appointed Camie Courtright to fill the remainder of her term.
Thank you for the continued support of your township!
Mark R. Klumpp, Supervisor (on behalf of the entire Morton Township Board