Archived Story

Road proponents regroup

Published 10:16pm Thursday, March 1, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — “It was a good effort, but not the right time,” Cass County commissioners heard Thursday night from two of the five road commissioners after voters crushed a one-mill, five-year primary road proposal on Tuesday, 4,874 no to 2,740 yes. A similar request was rejected in 2008.
“This was one of the best-publicized, best-promoted, best-presented propositions to the voting public, so I’m surprised it didn’t pass,” Commissioner Ron Francis, R-Cassopolis said. “I think it demonstrates how hard it’s going to be to pass any millage in the county.”
Commissioner Carl Higley, R-Edwardsburg, pointed out that 753 county citizens receive some sort of Department of Human Services benefits.
Road Commissioner Pete Fournier, who chaired the Better Roads for Cass County Committee, said eight members poured 830 volunteer hours into the effort.
“I don’t know if you noticed,” Fournier said, “but 625 more people voted for the millage than the combination of the presidential candidates. Obviously, we generated some interest for people to come to the polls.”
Fournier recounted for commissioners “some stats so you can understand the magnitude of this effort. We raised $1,680 toward this effort and another $560 that came from ‘in kind’ donations. We printed 6,000 brochures, of which more than 500 were stuck individually on mailboxes by volunteers. We had 1,500 postcards that went out to Wayne and Volinia townships, specifically worded for those areas. One hundred yard signs. More than 50 formal meetings. Over 5,000 miles were driven in this effort. We had three news releases in eight publications.”
Manager Louis Csokasy did an interview with ABC 57, but “the gentlemen ice fishing in Edwardsburg usurped that time slot and it ended up running in an off hour on Saturday when a lot of people didn’t see it.”
Road promoters also told their story in lake association publications and township newsletters.
“One thing I did insist on is that we have one message, repeated over and over so it wouldn’t be confusing,” said Fournier, who responded to “50 or 60 e-mails and all but two or three were supportive.”
“We wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did if it wasn’t for him,” road commission Chairman LeRoy Krempec of Mason Township said of the man known as “Bulldozer” during his work life and earning a new nickname, “Bulldog.”
“Maybe we didn’t get to enough people,” Krempec said.
“The best thing we did was to educate people about what the road commission is about and the pride it has in taking care of roads for residents. That’s the message we wanted to get out and did, so on to Plan B.”
Fournier said after the meeting Plan B “is being developed right now” by Manager Louis Csokasy and engineer Joe Bellina to deliver to the road commission at its March 15 meeting.
“We have a meeting scheduled March 31 with the townships to roll out what we’re going to do,” Fournier said.

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