By Pat Maurer
Improvements to the Clare Police Department were the highlight of the Clare City Commission meeting Monday evening.
Clare Police Chief Brian Gregory announced that the second of two new Ford Explorer SUVs is now in service. The two completely equipped vehicles were funded through a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant.
Commissioners had a chance to view the newest of the two vehicles after the meeting.
The Commission also approved another USDA Rural Development grant application to fund the purchase of a paperless Citation System software program which will allow officers to issue citations and send them directly to other law enforcement computer systems and to District Court. The technology will eliminate the need for officers to drive citations up to the District Court in Harrison.
USDA grant officials have given verbal approval that the grant will be approved, Acting City Clerk Steven Kingsbury said. The grant would pay 75 percent of the cost to equip five police vehicles with the software, a cost estimated at $7,450.
Meanwhile the Commission gave approval to purchase the technology equipment for the vehicles with funds already budgeted for hardware and software for the system. The city recently was informed that Isabella County Emergency Management will donate seven “relatively new” laptop computers, reducing the cost of equipping the police vehicles with the technology, and freeing up funds for the purchase.
Police Chief Brian Gregory said the majority of law enforcement agencies in the state now have this equipment and technology.
In another matter Monday, the Commission approved the second reading and approved an ordinance rezoning the property along Colonville Road, after a request from the Northern Group. The 60 acres donated to the city by the group will be zoned Industrial and the remaining 138 acres will be rezoned Commercial. The change will take effect 15 days after the approval.
Friday was the day set for the closing of the sale of 20 acres in the new industrial park to Consumer’s Energy who will be building a new service complex on the site over the next year. The closing was set for after the rezoning was completed. The Commission gave the mayor and city clerk authorization to sign the closing papers.
Other business at the meeting Monday included:
* the re-appointment of Mel Johns and John Audretsch to three-year terms on the Tree Advocacy Group.
*A report from Kingsbury that Northern Dry Bulk is planning a new 24,800 square foot facility in the Clare Industrial Park. The plant will make material for Dow Chemical’s manufacture of insulation.
*Kingsbury also reported an approximately 3 million gallon loss of water due to the Orchard Street water main break and hydrant flushing. For perspective, the Clare water tower holds 300,000 gallons.