Buchanan to celebrate Reader’s Digest honor

BUCHANAN – Plans are being made to celebrate the recent honor Buchanan received as Reader’s Digest named the city “the nicest place” to live in America in 2020. The celebration is expected to take place Oct. 24.

Buchanan City Commissioners met outdoors at Centennial Park Wednesday evening to talk about the celebration scheduled for Oct. 24 as well as handle matters postponed from Monday. The commission’s Monday meeting was not held after questions arose about the validity of virtual/remote meetings after a Michigan Supreme Court ruling Monday.

The Michigan Supreme Court had ruled earlier this month that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not have authority to unilaterally issue executive orders after April 30. One of the executive orders affected was the one allowing governmental bodies and school boards to meet virtually or remotely and still be in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.

Both houses of the state legislature approved new legislation late Tuesday restoring the holding of virtual/remote meetings and the governor was expected to sign the legislation still this week. The new legislation also retroactively validates actions taken by public bodies in those remote/virtual meetings since March 18.

As for the “nicest place” in America celebration, City Manager Heather Grace reported that commissioners are looking to host the celebration at 3 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Common in downtown Buchanan.

Grace said some details are being worked out, but current plans call for performances by the VanDyke Revue, the Buchanan High School band and high school cheerleaders. In addition, the top three essays from elementary students will be read and certificates of appreciation will be passed out to the local residents who made the honor possible.

She reported that DPM Events plan to show images of the veterans’ banners on a large screen during the program. Those banners were placed around the downtown in May and June in lieu of the traditional Memorial Day parade that was canceled due to the pandemic.

Grace said the city is also looking to buy 40 new banners celebrating the “nicest place” in America honor to have up before the Oct. 24 event.

In other business Wednesday, commissioners approved replacing the boiler at the historic Ross-Sanders House at Front and Oak Streets at a cost of $14,144. The building is currently being leased by the Escape Room and Guys and Dolls. The boiler replacement is just the latest of a number of repairs on the house in recent years.

Grace said commissioners revisited the city’s Halloween plans but ended up not making any changes. In mid-September, the commission approved holding the annual “Trek or Treat” event on a section of McCoy’s Creek Trail as well as “trick or treat” hours throughout the city. Both events will be held Saturday, Oct. 31.

She said that some concerns had been raised due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the county, but that commissioners felt that precautions and measures have been put in place to keep people safe.

Relative to future governmental meetings, Grace said she expects the city commission as well as the planning commission and other boards will resume hosting hybrid remote meetings where some commissioners will be at city hall in person while others and the public will be remote.

The planning commission had planned to hold a meeting this week, but she said the meeting will likely take place next Tuesday virtually. Items on that agenda include design review committee recommendations for a couple of downtown buildings as well as a discussion of allowing another adult use marijuana microbusiness in the city.

A representative of Tranquility Fields came to the commission last month with a request to open a microbusiness in the city. They are looking to open marijuana microbusiness franchises around the state and want to locate one in Buchanan.

Zoning Administrator Debra Patzer said last month that the commission only approved one adult use marijuana microbusiness for a business at 303 Carrol Street. She said Tranquility Fields would need to get the commission to amend the adult use marijuana ordinance to allow for an additional microbusiness.

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