Cass County Board of Commissioners host Feb. 16 meeting

Published 7:30 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

Leader Publications Contributor

CASSOPOLIS — A dangerous intersection and a grant for home and structure rehabilitation were among the topics discussed during Thursday’s Cass County Board of Commissioners meeting at 120 N. Broadway, Suite 200, Cassopolis.

Public comment centered around the proposed roundabout in Milton Township at the eastern intersection of Redfield Street and Gumwood Road. The roundabout – originally scheduled to be constructed last summer – has been delayed due to right-of-way acquisition issues with a local land owner.

According to a 2017 Niles-Buchanan-Cass Area Transportation Study by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Gumwood Road averages more than 7,500 vehicles per day between the Indiana state line and Redfield Street.

Concerns over safety, the ecosystem, and personal property were conveyed during the meeting.

“Trees are being removed,” said one concerned citizen. “The ecosystem is being destroyed.”

Dr. Iryna Lendel, Senior Director of Regional Economic and Community Development from the Upjohn Institute, broke down the state of the county’s economy and housing. Lendel’s presentation went over information including:

  • Cass County’s population (per the U.S. Decennial Census) has remained the same
  • Cass County Average Citizen Age has gone up

In its fight against blight, the Cass County Land Bank was awarded $500,000 for the rehabilitation of certain homes and structures. Land Bank Authority Chair Hope Anderson explained how 58 parcels had been submitted as public nuisances and/or unsafe dwellings. The Blight Elimination Program looks to rehabilitate these properties.

Anderson said one caveat might include liens on the properties chosen or selected for rehabilitation and would the owners be liable to pay back the rehabilitation cost in the future, if they decided to sell.

The Michigan Association of Counties recently celebrated its 125th Anniversary. The MAC was founded in 1898 by sixteen different counties in Michigan. The ‘Original 16’ – which includes Cass County – met at the Michigan State Capitol on February 1, 1898.  The MAC  dedicates itself to the representation of all County Commissioners and local governments throughout our great state.

Michigan State Representative Brad Paquette (R) was in attendance Thursday evening.  Representative Paquette passed along the following information:

  • House Bill 4000.1 passed – cost: $1.2 Billion – focuses on: tax credits (EIC); pensions; corporate welfare funding
  • Zoom was being considered as a legal way to vote
  • According to Paquette, Project Veritas’s Pfizer video has been proven legitimate

Paquette also noted that any visible objects in the sky were more than likely Starlink – Elon Musk’s broadband internet system.

“Nothing to worry about,” Pacquette said.

The LOU Animal Control passed unanimously, and Commissioner Lee reminded folks there would be Rabies Vaccination from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. A dog license is required.

Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke made his case for the purchase of two Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs and other necessary equipment for the Sheriff Patrol Division at a cost of $111,066.  Sheriff Behnke stated that two older vehicles needed to be taken out of service, due to wear and tear and high mileage.  Behnke also said that the division had a three squad car budget, and that the motor pool fund – a program intended to alleviate the entire purchase price up front by extending it into payments – was also available.

Other business included:

  • Commissioner Lee noted a County shortage of medics and ambulances
  • 3.2 percent unemployment rate in Michigan
  • Electric vehicles, batteries, and semiconductors are a focus
  • Dr. T.K. Lawless Park Night Skies will continue