Voters head to the polls Aug. 6

Chase fire, library proposals only township-wide vote

LAKE COUNTY — On Aug. 6, voters in six of Lake County’s townships will head to polls. However, Chase Township is the only township where all the voters will be asked to weigh in on the ballot proposals. In the other five townships, only a fraction of the voters will be asked to cast their vote. In Lake, Elk, Newkirk, Sauble and Sweetwater townships, only those voters living within certain school districts will be asked whether or not to renew those district’s operating millages. Those voters who are affected should have already received notice of the upcoming election. Not every resident in the township will be asked to take part in the election. In Chase Township, all eligible voters will be asked whether or not to establish a millage for the purpose of operating the Chase Township Public Library and whether or not to establish a millage for the purpose of fire protection services.
Chase Township
In March, it become apparent that Chase Township could not continue to support the Chase Township Public Library and pay for fire protection services from the Reed City Fire Department like it had in the past due to decreased revenue. After several meetings filled with heated public debated, it was decided that the township would propose two millages to fund both the library and fire services. The township is purposing a .25-mill for the purpose of library operations for a period of three years which would continue through 2015. If approved, the millage would provide for the operation and maintenance of the library. It is estimated the millage would raise $7,689 in the first year it is levied. Chase Township also is purposing a .75-mill for the purpose of fire protection services for a period of three years which would continue through 2015. If approved, the millage would provide for fire protection services, which includes medical first responder services, by the Reed City Fire Department. It is estimated the millage would raise $23,068 in the first year it is levied. Reed City Fire Department has provided fire protection services to Chase Township for approximately 40 years. The department has 18 firefighters, all certified at the firefighter one level, and 12 certified at the firefighter two level. Of those 12, seven are fire officer trained, according to Reed City Fire Chief Jim Decker. Of the 18 firefighters, seven are medical first responders, six are basic emergency medical technicians and two are paramedics. The station is licensed at the medical first responder level meaning it can provide basic medical attention and help paramedics on scene if they are asked to. The department’s equipment includes a pumper, tanker, tender, rescue unit and John Deere Gator. The department’s average response time — getting to the station, putting on gear and in route to the call — is four minutes in the summer and a little longer in the winter, Decker said. The department also has mutual aid agreements with other Osceola County departments. The approximate cost of Chase’s contract with Reed City is $25,000, which includes an equipment payment. However, Chase’s current contract with Reed City expires on Wednesday. During the time the contract expires and the election takes place, Yates Township Fire Department has agreed to cover Chase Township for free. If the millage is not approved, it is likely that Chase Township will contract with Yates Township Fire Department for fire protection services. Although a final contract price has not been negotiated or approved by either township boards, Yates Township would provide fire services at approximately a 60 percent savings compared to Reed City, said Yates Township Fire Chief John Barnette. Yates Township Fire Department has 22 firefighters, 19 of which are certified, Barnette said. Of the 19, 90 percent are certified at the firefighter one and two level. The three remaining personnel who are not certified will take their certification classes in the fall, he added. Although Yates Township Fire Department does not have any medical first responders on staff, the department has been called to assist on medical emergencies numerous times, Barnette said. The department’s equipment includes a pumper engine, two tenders, a rescue rig that hauls equipment for vehicle accidents and three brush trucks. Although all calls are different, Barnette said his department never receives more than two tones before they respond. He estimates the department can be anywhere in the Chase area in five to 12 minutes. Yates has mutual aid agreements with Baldwin and Webber and Lake townships. It also provides fire protection services to Cherry Valley Township. Elk, Lake, Sauble and Sweetwater townships A portion of Elk, Lake, Sauble and Sweetwater township voters will be asked whether to renew a millage for West Shore Community College operating purposes. The .7062-mill renewal would be levied for a period of eight years, from 2014 to 2021. It is estimated the millage would raise $1,997,000 in 2014. This millage will be open to 796 voters in the Kaleva Norman Dickson school district in Elk Township, 76 voters in the Mason County Central school district in Lake Township, two voters in the Mason County Eastern school district in Sauble Township and 20 voters in the Mason County Central school district in Sweetwater Township. Lake, Sauble and Sweetwater voters should have been notified by the Mason County clerk. Newkirk Township Five voters in the Cadillac Area Public Schools district in Newkirk Township will be asked whether to renew a millage for Cadillac Area Public Schools operating purposes. The 18-mill renewal would be levied for a period of seven years, from 2014 to 2020. It is estimated the millage would raise $5,214,617 in 2014. The five voters will go to South Branch Township in Wexford County to vote. Sauble and Sweetwater townships A portion of voters in Sauble and Sweetwater townships will be asked whether to renew a millage for Mason County Eastern District. The 18-mill renewal would be levied for a period of 20 years, from 2014 to 2033. It is estimated the millage would raise $1,443,547 in 2014. Those residents in Sauble and Sweetwater townships voting in the West Shore Community College millage renewal also vote in the Mason County Eastern District renewal.