Museum given new namePublished 9:11pm Monday, November 12, 2012
The Museum at Southwestern Michigan College will henceforth be known as Dowagiac Area History Museum.
Dowagiac City Council approved the name change Monday night along with a non-reverting trust fund similar to what it established last month for public art.
“As we’ve already received some generous donations,” City Manager Kevin Anderson said, “money can come into and be used only for artifacts and facility maintenance” of the new home created from Behnke’s Paint and Floor Covering, 202 W. Railroad St. “It gives assurance to donors as well as appropriate tax credits.”
Dowagiac Area History Museum beat out Dowagiac-Cass County History Museum and Greater Dowagiac History Museum.
It was thought “Area” best incorporates Cass and Van Buren counties.
A museum advisory committee led by Chairman Chuck Timmons, Vice Chairman Rick Sheffer and Secretary Pam Proctor began meeting Sept. 4.
Director Steve Arseneau gave council members a tour after the meeting.
New web site
‘work in progress’
Citizen Bill Lorenz critiqued the city’s new website.
The community events calendar titled “always something happening in Dowagiac” only lists two November events and none in December.
“I know there’s more than that going on in Dowagiac,” Lorenz said, naming such events associated with Southwestern Michigan College, Beckwith Theatre and to council meetings or school events.
“Make an effort to fill the calendar,” Lorenz said. “It appears nobody’s maintaining the website.”
In the dining section, “Dowagiac’s most famous, quintessential restaurant,” Mr. Wahoo’s, merits no mention.
“Pamida’s still open,” Lorenz said of the store now known as Shopko.
“Council members and contact information isn’t listed,” he continued. “Our statues are a bit of a tourist attraction, but not listed on the website. I read between the lines that we’re having the same problem with the new website we had with the old site — nobody’s maintaining it. If I tried to grade it, I’d call it ‘needs improvement.’ Putting out erroneous information is detrimental to the city. You’re not putting enough priority on it.”
“We recognize it’s a work in progress,” Anderson said. “One individual works a couple of hours a week on it, which is probably not enough. We know there are things to clean up and work on.”
Councilman Charles Burling reinforced Lorenz’s suggestion the city hire an SMC student.
“We don’t take it lightly, but we’re running extremely lean and are not flush with people,” Mayor Donald Lyons said. “Students are an excellent suggestion. It can be done.”
$890,000 fund balance
Anderson said the city remains on solid financial footing despite four years of shrinking revenue during year-end budget adjustments for the audit.
“The size of government operations has been resized to fit the revenue streams and capital investment,” he said.
The $890,000 fund balance is a solid 27 percent of general fund revenues.
The city made $740,000 in capital improvements to streets and infrastructure.
“Around $400,000 came from grants,” he said. “We were able to leverage our local money.”
Purchase of a hot patch machine should improve street quality this winter.
Electric, sewer and water utilities will all operate with positive net income for the first time in a number of years due to the fact operating expenses have been stabilized and “appropriate” rates put in place.
“This is especially important given water towers that are in need of painting and the wastewater treatment plant in need of updated mechanical systems,” Anderson said.
Council confirmed Mayor Lyons’ reappointment of Jean Cline to the Board of Review for a term expiring in December 2015.