New officers chosen for Lake County Township Association

County, state officials give quarterly updates

PINORA TWP. — Township officials and county leaders met last Thursday at the Pinora Township Hall for the Lake County Township Association meeting, where two officers were chosen to fill vacancies on the three-person board, consisting of a president, secretary and treasurer.

As the Lake County chapter of the Michigan Township Association, the group, made up of elected township officials in Lake County, meet quarterly to discuss topics in the county and support each other in township matters.

The group had only met once, in October 2021, since COVID-19 restrictions eased, and during that time the treasurer resigned. The previous president, Mark Venema, was no longer qualified to be a part of the chapter since his resignation this past winter from his position of Peacock Township supervisor. The only official left on the board was secretary Ernie Wogatzke, who is supervisor of Webber Township.

Wogatzke called together a quarterly session for April, also to serve as an organizational meeting to select officers to fill vacancies. Township board members from Cherry Valley Township stepped up to the plate. Cherry Valley Township Supervisor George Supernois volunteered to be president of the chapter, and Cherry Valley Township Treasurer Lori Jeffrey volunteered for the treasurer position.

During the meeting, different county officials spoke to the township officers, including Lake County Emergency Management Director Patrick Maddox, who, along with Stephen Carlson, discussed having a representative from each township to work with them on a county hazard mitigation plan.

"This plan is to take action to prevent and lessen damages of hazards," Carlson said, adding they are working closely with Lake County Administrator Tobi Lake on putting this plan in place.

Lake spoke on the plan.

"At the end of the day, if we are all working together on this, it opens the door for funding. Townships need to identify a point person."

State Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), gave a legislative update, and spoke of working on the state budget.

"With federal dollars, the work on the budget isn't as partisan as it can be. There is something for everyone," he said.

VanSingel said if something can be done to address pension debt, he feels it would put the state on "firm footing," but the legislature can't use these federal dollars (COVID-19 relief) on pension debt.

"With $4 million extra in the general fund and $4 million in the school fund, both sides feel the long-term results should be 'how can kids benefit,' so we are trying to address debt. We are getting some smaller debts already wiped out."

VanSingel said this year's budget will have $750 million additional dollars toward transportation, with $400 million going toward county road commissions.

"There is a lot of great news coming out of Lansing," he said.

When VanSingel was asked how much longer he will serve as state representative, he said his term will finish at the end of this year and he will be term-limited out. Those present thanked him for all his work for the district over the past few years and gave him applause.

Jodi Nichols, with the Lake County Economic Development Alliance, shared how they were able to get state dollars to create the restaurant, 876, in Baldwin, along with a couple of apartments, from a "blighted vacant building to a beautiful establishment."

She also spoke of ARPA (America Rescue Plan Act) dollars available for possible eligibility toward community projects and countyside endeavors which can be applied for to make Lake County better.

Lake gave an update on the county, discussing the $2.3 million in ARPA Funds, and he also shared how GIS (Geographic Information System) is now on the Lake County website.

Lake also said GEO Prison wants a lower assessment, which could cut $200,000 just to the county, not including what it may cut to the school and Webber Township. He also said the courthouse is implementing security updates.

Wogatzke discussed upcoming training for townships with the Lake County Planning Commission.

During public comment, Kelly Smith, a Republican candidate for state representative, shared how he wants to serve the public, and one of his main areas of focus is building up workforce development.

The summer session of the Lake County Township Association will take place at Cherry Valley Township Hall.