Archived Story

County checking out electric truck Aug. 20

Published 8:49am Friday, August 7, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

CASSOPOLIS – County Administrator Terry Proctor, Grants and Projects Manager and Maintenance Supervisor David Dickey were apparently energized by their participation last week in a “Webinar” regarding projects that could be undertaken with federal stimulus money to achieve efficiencies.

“Dave is preparing a prioritized list of different energy things which could be done with our county facilities,” Proctor reported to the Cass County Board of Commissioners Thursday night. “Then Sandy is going to prepare a grant application for energy efficiency projects. Some possible projects are solar collectors that could be used for hot water.
Windmills which could be purchased and installed to generate electricity. Another one is LED lights – Light-Emitting Diode – that maybe we would put in parking lots. Along those lines, Dave Dickey has been looking at motor vehicles for the board’s enjoyment in two weeks. Before the board meeting (Aug. 20), he has arranged for one of the vendors to have it outside for us to inspect and observe an electric truck that could be used for the maintenance department.”

Proctor also discussed rural residential areas such as Cass County lagging behind in broadband for high-speed Internet access.

“We are woefully underserved,” Proctor said. “Midwest Energy planned to deliver broadband over power lines, but an update I received (Wednesday) indicated they are experiencing delays. They’re also exploring other technologies to bring broadband to the county,” such as a fiber optic loop.

“There’s a lot of activity right now because the federal government has a big pot of money through the stimulus to support the development of broadband,” he advised commissioners. “Midwest Energy is putting in a big grant application. Another company from Lansing is putting in a big grant application to compete for funds to bring broadband to Cass County. There’s a lot of stimulus money out there and a lot of people wanting it. It appears there are far more requesting it than there are funds available.”
A fourth topic Proctor broached, against a backdrop of “planning ahead has been very challenging for all of us, whether it’s county government or our own personal lives.”
Mired in a recession which compounded Michigan’s economic malaise, “We’ve all been in a difficult time period this year.”

Since Cass County government consists of “many, many different parts” and budgets of varying sizes, Proctor suggested commissioners consider a one- to two-day conference to hear representatives from each department.
“They would tell us what they feel their department strengths are and maybe what some of the constraints are and what some of the goals are for the next couple of years as a way to bring everybody together and to learn from each other as we try to look forward because tomorrow will come. The sun will rise and we’ll still have citizens who would like to have county government services. Let me know. It’s been a number of years since the Board of Commissioners has done that with all of the elected officials and departments.”

To get an idea of the scope, chalked on the board were Maintenance, Clerk-Register of Deeds, District Court, Circuit Court, Probate/Family Court, Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney, Emergency Management, Veterans, Information Systems, MSU Extension, Woodlands (former director Jerry Wilson, who divides his time between Arizona and Hastings, visited the Cass County Fair Thursday), Council on Aging, Department of Human Services, Adult Probation, Medical Care Facility, Cass District Library and Treasurer.

Proctor reported that following Sheriff Joe Underwood’s and Capt. Lyndon Parrish’s appearance at the July 16 meeting to brief the board on mobile computers they were in the process of obtaining with the help of federal stimulus money to ease information delays which crop up with only two E-911 Central Dispatch personnel while creating new efficiencies, too, approval was received for the $17,957 Byrne grant commissioners accepted Aug. 6.

Chairman Robert Wagel, R-Wayne Township, appointed a committee of Minnie Warren, Cathy Goodenough, Gordon Bickel, Debbie Johnson, Carl Higley and Dixie Ann File chaired by Warren, D-Pokagon Township, to recommend 2010 elected officials’ salaries by the end of October.

File, R-Cassopolis, made the motion that a replacement 2010 F-250 maintenance truck for a 1997 F-250 be purchased from Tom Wright’s Two Paws Ford in Paw Paw for $20,763.71 from three bids.

Commissioners also accepted a low bid from Car Quest North Side Auto Parts in Elkhart, Ind., for a snow plow for $4,616.95, making Maintenance Superintendent David Dickey’s total request $25,280.66.

The board approved Commissioner Ed Goodman’s, D-Silver Creek Township, motion to appropriate $4,879 from the Law and Courts Building capital project fund to seal and restripe the 6-year-old parking lot.

There is a $10,880 balance in the fund.

Commissioners in May approved a project to fill cracks. That was done the last week of July.

Dickey suggested the pavement now be sealed and restriped and obtained two quotes.
Low bidder Chorba Construction of Dowagiac will do the work.

Ziliak moved to appropriate $6,925 from the public improvement fund for the balance of the bid to paint Newton House between Dowagiac and Marcellus on Marcellus Highway in Volinia Township.

The Historical Commission May 14 accepted the low bid from Ronald McAdam of Design and Decorating Services.

Bids ranged up to $55,000 to completely strip and repaint the pioneer home.
Vice Chairman Francis moved to award a $4,235 bid to Chicago Motors for sale of five used Sheriff’s Office vehicles – a 2000 Ford Crown Vic, three 2003 Ford Crown Vics and a 2003 Chevrolet Impala.

Mileage ranges from 133,000 to 149,000.

Three proposals were submitted.

“I’m surprised the sheriff didn’t check into Cash for Clunkers,” Commissioner Johnie Rodebush kidded Joe Underwood.

Ziliak indicated that he took advantage of the program the U.S. Senate voted to extend.
Ziliak suggested hanging onto some surplus squad cars and parking them in strategic locations to “slow people down.”

Bickel reported the Road Commission’s budget hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 17.
Taylor’s son intends to run for the District 20 state Senate seat in Kalamazoo County.

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