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Barry Township to consolidate voting

Luke Froncheck

Contributing Writer

In an effort to save taxpayer money, Barry Township will now only have one voting location come election day. During a special meeting Nov. 6, the township board of trustees agreed to consolidate voting in the township. By eliminating polls in Hickory Corners, voting will now only be in Delton at the fire station.

“We will save money on equipment and election workers,” Barry Township Clerk Deb Knight said. “Residents can still contact me and get absentee ballots.”

While not giving an exact figure, Knight said in an interview with the Banner Wednesday she thinks the move would cut the township's election expenses “in half.”  The township has allocated about $4,400 in its budget this year for elections, she said.

During Tuesday's regular meeting, a Hickory Corners resident spoke in opposition of the move.

“I feel that it’s absurd we’re getting rid of elections in Hickory Corners,” resident Greg Garrett said. “It may not be a big deal for the people around here [Delton], but it’s a big deal for the community in Hickory Corners. All our lives, we’ve gone down to the fire station and voted there.”

“I don’t think it’s fair that this wasn’t handled during your regular board meeting. I think that by having it at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, a lot of people didn’t know about it or could not attend,” he continued during public comment. “You had a meeting among yourselves there. I guess it was legal and all that, but I don’t think it was right.

Knight explained that a special meeting was needed for the decision because of a Nov. 11 deadline for the consolidation to be reported.

State law allows townships to consolidate to a single precinct if they have less than 3,000 registered voters. In the last couple of years, Prairieville and Irving townships in Barry County have also consolidated voting to a single precinct, County Clerk Pam Palmer said.

At the conclusion of the regular board meeting, Township Police Chief Mark D. Doster asked the board to create a committee to interview candidates for the position of township attorney. Doster said the position needs to be filled so that an individual will be available to represent the township in court. The attorney would represent the township when tickets and fines are challenged in court. When the board voted on the matter, trustee Teresa Schuiteboer cast the sole dissenting vote.

“My understanding is that it’s OK to hire a separate lawyer for situations, but why do you need to make a committee to hire a lawyer?”

In a later conversation with the Banner Schuiteboer said, “I don’t get it. It all comes down to the fact that everyone on the board is responsible for our department's actions.”

During public comment, Barry Bower reported that Delton’s annual hometown Christmas celebration was 22 days away. Changes to this year’s event include the parade beginning at the Methodist church and proceeding to the middle school, rather than the opposite way, and the addition of an ice sculptor in William Smith Park for the event. This year’s Hometown Christmas is set for Saturday, Dec 4. The parade will begin at 6 p.m.

In other township business, the board:

-Voted to approve a snow plowing bid from Smith Landscape and Lakeside for $175 per plowing. Supervisor Wes Kahler said he sent four bid requests out and received only one response.

-Approved a policy that bans smoking inside of and at the entrances of township facilities. The policy also bans smoking in township vehicles.

-Voted to accept land donated by the Delton Kellogg School district. The land is set to be used for the construction of the amphitheater in William Smith park.




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