Archived Story

Government officials to hear about casino

Published 1:39pm Monday, March 11, 2013


CASSOPOLIS — Cass County’s 22nd annual intergovernmental forum takes place at 6 p.m. April 25 at Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center.

Topics for three presentations are Active Shooter before dinner, the State of the County by County Administrator Louis Csokasy and Four Winds Dowagiac by the Pokagon Band about its casino opening this spring on M-51 South.

“Conducting (Active Shooter) in a school will add an element of realism that will be dynamic,” Vice Chair Bernie Williamson, R-Jefferson Township, said of Sheriff Joe Underwood’s interactive program, which has been presented in schools countywide as well as to county employees.

Chair Skip Dyes, R-Calvin Township, questioned whether townships would be sufficiently interested in “conjecture” about something which might never occur here.

Underwood said, “We’ve been doing this training with the schools. Dave (Smith, emergency preparedness director) and Capt. (Lyndon) Parrish have been going out. Events happening around us heighten that,” such as Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adult staff members were mass murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

It was the second deadliest shooting in American history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and the second-deadliest mass murder at an American elementary school after the 1927 Bath School bombings in Michigan.

“Sandy Hook would say, ‘This could never happen in our community.’ We don’t know where the next school shooting is going to happen. We do know we have to be ready when it does,” the sheriff said. “The community needs to know if we are prepared in case of an event in Cass County. If we don’t let them know we’re ready, we’re doing a disservice to the citizens of Cass County.”

“What is the township response going to be when it happens at one of their meetings?” Underwood asked. “We’re going to get more calls to go out and give more presentations. It snowballs. That’s what we usually find.”

“That’s exactly right,” Smith agreed. “When we give this presentation, we start getting more calls.”

“I’m not saying this is not important,” Dyes said, “and God knows if it happens here, I want to know what you’re doing. I’m just saying we’re trying to educate people with facts, not conjecture. That’s not going to draw people to this. I’m going to be there anyway.”

“I think you’re going to get more people who want to know what Active Shooter means,” the sheriff said.

“I think that’s great information about what you’ve done since these last shootings,” Commissioner Robert Ziliak, R-Milton Township, said. “Township officials should hear this.”

“We thought we’d never have an abduction in Cass County,” Underwood said. “That started us getting involved in CART (Child Abduction Response Team) training, which you had the presentation on tonight. Rainbow Farm ‘would never happen’ in Cass County — except it did.”

“We discuss security in these county buildings about every week,” County Administrator Louis Csokasy said. “It’s a big concern. We have a lot of angry people coming in.”

The cafeteria seats 272 for dinner.


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