By Pat Maurer
Clare City Manager Ken Hibl announced in his agenda report Monday evening that Clare County will be honored in Harrison November 6 as a “broadband-certified” county, one of only seven in the State.
“Clare City has played a key role in this initiative,” Hibl added.
He said Clare City Treasurer and Director of Information Technology Steven Kingsbury, and Ken Chinavare, director of Technology Regional Information Technology Services at the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District, will both be featured speakers at the event, which will be held in the south lobby area of the Clare County Courthouse at 10 a.m.
Broadband came to the area in the mid 1990s through a project by the Clare Gladwin Regional Education Service District in collaboration with Mid Michigan Community College. The Clare County Enterprise Community also began working on technology infrastructure and in late 2008; the Clare County Broadband initiative was first conceived. In 2009 the CCEC provided funds to expand the focus and develop wireless for those without cable access. Phase I connected the Cities of Clare, Harrison, Farwell, County offices, Sheriff’s Department, Village of Farwell Surrey Township and the three community libraries. Phase II involved a partnership with ISP Management, a wireless Internet Service Provider based in Alma, to develop the county-wide wireless service. Towers in Sheridan, Arthur, Hamilton, Freeman and Franklin Townships, were erected covering the eastern side of Clare County.
At a City meeting last year, Kingsbury said Merit Communication would receive $100,000 through a Governor’s initiative to be used throughout the state to upgrade technology and provide high speed access.
Through the installation of towers throughout the county, much of this area is now “connected.” “It took seven years,” Kingsbury said.
He said the Clare County Broadband Group was selected to receive the 2013 Michigan Broadband Access Hero Award this week at the 2013 Michigan Broadband Conference in Lansing. “Lynn and Steve Grim, Sheila Bissonnette and Jeff Hall will be attending the conference and will accept the award on behalf of our group,” he said.
In another matter Monday evening, the Commission honored retiring Airport Manager Dick Acker and approved a contract with new Airport Manager Gary Todd.
A local resident, Todd will replace Acker when he retires next week. He was selected from more than 40 applicants for the position. A Clare resident and local pilot with over 24 years of business and property management experience, Todd was Financial Analysis Director for the Central Michigan University Research Corporation, and previously a Small Business Consultant in Isabella and Gratiot Counties. He also owns and operates two Mini Storage facilities.
Other business at the Clare City Meeting included:
*Extending the Police Bargaining Unit’s labor agreement for one year through 2016 to synchronize their contract with the Teamsters bargaining units. The move is being made because the health care coverage is the same for all three. The extension also includes a two percent wage increase for the last year of the contract, the POAM’s first increase in five years, which will add approximately $13,000 to that year’s budget.
*Approval of support of the East Michigan Council of Governments’ (EMCOG) Regional Prosperity Grant. The EMCOG had requested a resolution or letter of support for a regional planning grant application they are submitting. The EMCOG is the central clearing house for all economic development in this region.
*Approved a change eliminating a clause in the resolution approved at the last meeting for the 200 acre Colonville Road property transfer agreement with Grant Township that said the transfer could be voided under certain conditions.
*Heard, in the City Manager’s report, that the Gerstacker Foundation has approved two grants to the City: $20,000 for development of the new soccer complex; and $50,000 to assist in the relocation and rehabilitation of the Clare Railroad Depot. Hibl noted that a $300,000 grant (including a $100,000 local match) application to the Dow Foundation for the Depot project is pending. The fund to move the Depot now totals $117,000.
*In his report, City Treasurer Kingsbury said the City reserves are now at $2.3 million, higher than in 2012.