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Local News Summary - December 2, 2020 Edition

In-person learning at Atlanta Schools may soon change
K-5 students in Atlanta are still attending school, but that situation might soon change. At the regular Nov. 23 school board meeting, Carl Seiter, superintendent, said whether elementary students will continue to attend in-person will depend on how many staff members become quarantined for COVID-19.

In Hillman, where Seiter also serves as superintendent, at least seven staff members have been affected by the virus, and Seiter indicated it’s only a matter of time until more teachers in Atlanta test positive or are considered close contacts of someone who did.

“If I have one or two staff members who test positive, we’re going to be all virtual,” he concluded.

Under the most recent state executive order, high school students are expected to return to school on Dec. 9. If the order is extended, Seiter explained students will likely not return to face-to-face learning until January, adding it does not make sense for students to return to face-to-face for one half week before Christmas break.

He informed board members the district continues to purchase personal protection equipment and chemicals, and the board might also see expenditures for document cameras and electronic devices as the district works to improve virtual learning. If the elementary goes virtual, there will likely be more demand for paper packets for students.

Although high school and middle school students in Atlanta were sent home to learn for the three-week executive order, the teachers who have been educating in three different formats, including face-to-face, paper packets and virtual, were somewhat prepared. Seiter credited staff and administrators for working hard over the summer when they normally would have been on break and gearing up for the coming year.

“All the planning we did all summer has made for what I would say, right now, is a seamless transition,” he commended.

New Village of Hillman Council President
The village council in Hillman has a new president. Dave Hornbacher served as a village trustee for a few months before being elected president, and he has served as fire chief for about two and a half years. He told the Tribune, on his first day as Mayor, his first action was to shut down the village office because of a COVID-19 contact.

Aside from decisions regarding the current pandemic, Hornbacher said he has no immediate plans to make changes. His goal is to keep the village running as smoothly as it has been operating.

“They’ve always done a good job. It was kind of easy to take over,” he said. “I told everybody I didn’t want to make changes.”

During his recent service to the village, he learned the village has accomplished more than he realized. Hornbacher anticipates future planning commission meetings will yield more information about any future projects for the village.

Myron McIntire, former Mayor, served the village council as a trustee for three years and as president for 25 years. During his service, the village spent about $20 million on upgrades to the village, he estimated, with most of the investment going under the ground. The improvements include water lines, a lagoon system, a streetscape and park development.

“I had a good, progressive council to work with. I hope it continues,” he said.

McIntire views the recent passage of the Headlee Amendment proposal as a show of confidence in the village council on the part of the public. According to McIntire, it was the first tax increase in many years. Village finances have been challenged by the power plant shutdown, which resulted in a 50 percent drop in water usage.

Now that he will have a little more time on his hands, McIntire said he will likely spend less time in government, at least for a while, and more time with the veterans at VFW Post 2356. He also plans to eventually do more traveling.

DNR approves nearly $2 million in recreation grants
A program that started 10 years ago with the goal of boosting visitation and funding for Michigan state parks also has created another important benefit: more funding for local, community parks and trails enhancement throughout the state.

The DNR introduced the Recreation Passport in 2010, replacing the traditional window sticker system for state park access with a purchase program tied to the renewal of license plate registrations. Support for the Recreation Passport has steadily grown since the programs start more than a third of Michigan registered vehicles now have the Recreation Passport on their license plate tabs and that means more available funding for grants. With the announcement of this year’s recipients, the Recreation Passport grant program (established by Public Act 35 of 2010) has awarded just over $12.7 million statewide.

Counties where funded grant projects have been approved include Alcona, Alpena, Barry, Chippewa, Clare, Crawford, Genesee, Isabella, Lapeer, Manistee, Marquette, Monroe, Montmorency, Oakland, Ogemaw, Osceola and Shiawassee.

Selected projects were scored and selected from a field of 59 grant applications seeking $6.5 million in local funding. Successful applicants clearly demonstrated projects designed to broaden public access to quality outdoor recreation opportunities.

Funding for this program is derived from sales of Michigan’s Recreation Passport required for vehicle entry into Michigan’s 103 state parks, 140 state forest campgrounds, hundreds of miles of state trails, historic sites, hundreds of boating access sites and other outdoor spaces. With every sale of a Recreation Passport, 10% goes directly to the grant program.

Weve seen an upswing in the number of visitors coming out to use Michigan state parks, trails and other outdoor opportunities, as people look for COVID-safe ways to relax and get exercise, said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. Those visitors represent a direct investment in state parks and local parks, because about $1 from every Recreation Passport purchased funds those local park and recreation grants.

The application period for the next round of Recreation Passport grant funding opens in January, with applications due April 1. Learn more about the program and application materials at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.

Death Notices
Full obituaries are in the Tribune print & paid online edition
Nathaniel R. Welling
Benjamin M. Carter
Michael R. Solonika

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