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Studies planned as Barry Township water levels rise

Savanah Kaechele

Contributing Writer

An update from Barry County County Commissioner Dave Jackson at Tuesday night’s Barry Township Board meeting brought news on the flooding of the county’s lakes. Jackson referred to the flooding problem as one of the more prevalent things being worked on by the county. Water levels continue to rise, with Lake Michigan having record high water levels.

“The county board approved preliminary lake level studies for Long Lake and the channel lakes and also Pleasant Lake,” Jackson said.

Significance of these studies derives from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy requirement of the lake level studies in order to move forward with the plan of water removal from the Watson Drain and Crooked Lake. Studies for Long Lake and the channel lakes have been completed; however, Pleasant Lake will be a six to eight-week project.

“The plan has been escalated in my opinion to the point that they are talking about – if this all works as they want it to – they’d like to put lake-level structures in on Long Lake and channel lakes sometime in late April early May, to potentially start moving water into the Delton drain and off Crooked Lake around May or June,” Jackson said.

EGLE is giving a short-term permit to run water northward until the lake levels are down and no longer negatively impacting the lakes. Although the natural water flow is south, Jackson said the goal is to get some immediate flooding relief going northward.

“They want to take the water south through an infiltration bed at some point,” Jackson said. “I think EGLE is going to require them to put that infiltration bed southbound – it’s just that that infiltration bed can’t handle the amount of water that’s on the lake right now,” he added.

Trustee Teresa Schuiteboer asked about irrigation.

“The equipment rental was either expensive, and then the cost of hooking it up, channeling the water, running the pumps – whatever the cost was, it was going to be really expensive,” Jackson answered.

“The revised updated plan for flooding in the county is underway, but it is still a long way off. That’s probably still eight months to a year away before we get any real progress on that,” he said. “You would think that would be something that we would step up and move a little quicker.”

Jackson reminded those at the meeting of community forums and ongoing discussions by the county board regarding status or the jail and the Commission on Aging building.

 “We can’t build a jail for the flavor of the year,” Jackson said. “You have a democratic governor right now who’s pushing prison reforms. Well, next they might be tough on crime and they might be putting 10 times the number of people in jail. You just don’t know. So, we have to build a jail based on historical levels and where we see this is going.”

Treasurer Judy Wooer asked about the cost of a new jail.

“$20 million to $22 million – somewhere in that range,” Jackson replied.

The Delton Rotary Club will host its wild game dinner Saturday, Feb. 15, at Faith United Methodist Church. This event has previously raised around $5,000-$6,000, which is given back to the community in a variety of ways.

Hickory Fire Chief Craig Wyman gave his January report. The fire department responded to 12 calls during the month. The average response time was 7 ½ minutes. The average response time from agencies providing mutual aid was 12 ½ minutes.

The Delton Fire Department received 44 calls in January, 14 of which were fire calls. The remaining 30 were medical first responder calls.

In his report, Police Chief Mark Doster said the department saw a decrease in the number of accidents – only seven for the month of January.

“Thank goodness, we finally went down on accidents,” Doster said.  

Wooer gave the library update which included the following:

- The library is still hosting the income tax assistance program. Anyone with an income under $60,000 will qualify for a free tax preparation. Appointments are required.

- Movies will be shown at the library every Tuesday in March, with the Delton Kellogg Partners in Education supplying half of the funds for the licensing fee to do so.

- Two ping-pong tables allow for tournaments now at the library.

- A variety of classes, including gardening, yoga, cardio-drumming and sewing are available.

- UPS may now stop and pick up packages from the library. A label for the package is required.

- Message Express Internet is installing new fiber optics, which will increase internet speed. This improvement will be concluded in July.

The cemetery report included both last year and this year’s statistics. The year 2019 included 16 cremation burials and three full burials. Four full burials have already been done in January this year.

As part of the Gull Lake Sewer report, Supervisor Wes Kahler informed the board of an advisory committee established for the water tower.

“We are just exploring things right now. Nothing is set in stone,” Kahler said.

Four dates have been set for Music in the Park, with a big one on July Fourth weekend. The budget is currently being worked on.

“Right now, tentatively, it will be half of what it was last year,” Clerk Deb Knight said.

In other business, the board:

- Approved two quotes. Welcome signs for Hickory Corners and Delton will cost $189.35. There will be four signs in Hickory and three in Delton. The money for the signs will be taken out of the operations fund. Lighting for the park project will use part of the grant money received from the foundation; $3,950 will go toward the purchase of the lights.

 - Introduced Beverly Walters, a new board of review member.

The next township meeting will be Thursday, March 12, with a public hearing at 6:30 p.m.

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