Dowagiac a hit with Holland, so more bus tours head this way

Published 11:31 pm Monday, October 10, 2011

One good tour deserves another, to paraphrase an old adage.

While Dowagiac officials visited Grand Rapids last week for the Michigan Municipal League convention, the Grand Old City hosted visitors from Holland.

The first busload, it appears.

According to Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin, “There were 25 people on board. Thelda Mathews (Dogwood Fine Arts Festival Visual Arts Committee chair) acted as guide for the sculptures. The group split up” and ate at Wood Fire Italian Trattoria, Zeke’s, Beeson Street Grill and Round Oak Restaurant.

“They were well-satisifed with the fare,” Laylin informed City Council Monday night, “and they commented on how friendly the people are in Dowagiac. When they returned to Holland, they planned to set up three more bus tours from that area to come to Dowagiac. They were very impressed with our town. They also commented on the cleanliness of the city.”

City Manager Kevin Anderson agreed with First Ward Councilman Randy Gross’s assessment on the Michigan Department of Transportation paving project, which “went very smoothly for where it was” until hindered by rain.

“As luck would have it,” Anderson said, “they were right downtown at those intersections the Homecoming parade was crossing (Sept. 30), but that was a quirk of timing more than anything else. I think the project went very well.”

Second Ward Councilman James Dodd happened to be out of town during Saturday’s Under the Harvest Moon festival, “but everybody I did talk to, they hope they keep doing it.”

Added Mayor Don Lyons, “I heard a food vendor they brought in to cook brought in what he thought would be an appropriate amount for a fair like that and ran out at 11 o’clock in the morning and you couldn’t find a seat in any restaurant in town, so apparently it had a good crowd.“

Council members are also glad to see work started on the adjacent KFC building to turn it into Cass County Council on Aging’s Dowagiac Senior Center.

Anderson said Riverside Cemetery’s perpetual care fund produces $13,000 to $14,000 in annual revenue from fees. Only interest is spent — not principal.

“We have not taken the next step to see what we would need to generate enough for the cemetery to stand on its own as an enterprise fund. Historically, those funds have been used for major capital projects, like the road improvements, signage and rebuilding the mausoleum. We struggled during the year with upkeep, but at this point in time the cemetery is in solid shape.”

Council met just long enough to confirm special assessment rolls against properties remaining delinquent in payment of code enforcement expenses and utility bill expenses the city incurred.

The former for blight is $1,207.50 against four properties, the latter a longer list totaling $20,989.84 for 46 past-due accounts from Nov. 1, 2010-April 30, 2011.

Council also directed City Treasurer Robin Coffey to pay $437,501.90 — $204,292.24 for payroll and $233,209.66 for bills.

Lori Hunt, Dr. Charles Burling and City Attorney Mark Westrate were absent.