The West Shore Community College (WSCC) Board of Trustees on Monday will consider approving a contract with Kendra Thompson to be the architect for its planned Manistee Downtown Education Center project.
The project will remodel the two-story, 13,000-square-foot building at 400 River St. in Manistee, which was formerly a Glik’s, to create a new WSCC satellite campus. The project has been designated as the board’s No. 1 priority in its facilities master plan, and it’s preliminarily estimated to cost a total of $3.2 million. The college would pay $2.2 million from its funds, and an anonymous donor is said to have pledged an added $1 million for the project.
At the board’s last meeting, Nov. 18, the trustees voted 5-2 to table the discussion of hiring Thompson due to uncertainty about whether or not Thompson would handle both the engineering designs and the construction management aspects of the project.
The proposed contract is for Thompson’s architecture firm to be paid up to $240,000, which is 6 percent of the estimated project fees, according to WSCC President Scott Ward.
Ward proposed hiring Thompson, since she had already been doing “pro bono” work, creating engineering designs for the project. He said his administration engaged with her to start design work during the fall after the board approved purchasing the River Street property. Ward called this error an “oversight” by his administration, and he sought the board’s formal approval for Thompson to be hired.
The board will also hear the presentation of a new campus housing study, with research conducted by Wendy Gradwohl Wells, Ph.D., an adjunct instructor for WSCC.
The idea of constructing dormitories for on-campus student housing has been discussed on and off by the trustees for many years. In February, the college received the results of a study conducted by a hired contractor, the Scion Group, which examined the feasibility of on-campus housing and provided potential floor plans for the proposed dorms.
“To provide another perspective to the Scion Feasibility Study, Dr. Gradwohl Wells conducted a campus housing study among rural community colleges,” Ward stated in a memo to the board.
The Scion Group had said that the student interest at WSCC might be able to support having 103 to 126 beds, but Gradwohl Wells recommended, “(WSCC) may want to consider a smaller number of beds,” according to her written study. She recommended that the college start with a conservative number of units and expand as interest grows, if the decision is made to build housing.
The Scion Group had also assumed that WSCC would be able to attract international students, most of whom would need on-campus housing. Gradwohl Wells said in her study that some colleges have seen a decline in their enrollment of international students due to difficulties in the visa process; and international students tend to be drawn more to colleges that have “niche programs” rather than to similar institutions without the specialty programs.
“Caution should be taken in estimating the number of international students that would need housing,” she stated, adding in her recommendation that WSCC should focus on promoting niche programs, such as its existing criminal justice and nursing programs.
She also noted that the Scion Group had assumed WSCC would start sports programs, which would draw student athletes from outside of the area, and thus would need housing. But her study looked at five colleges without athletics programs, and even without sports, those colleges still attract students to live in on-campus housing. In her recommendation, she advised the board to consider “adding a few sports teams.”
The board is scheduled to hold a work session on the topic of student housing immediately after its regular meeting on Jan. 20.
The board is scheduled to go into closed session to discuss its collective bargaining strategy.
The board will vote on approving the fall 2019 graduate list, which includes 25 students.
The trustees will vote on approving the board meeting schedule for 2020. The meetings are proposed to continue to typically be held at 4 p.m. on the third Monday of the month. As is tradition, the April and November meetings would be held off-campus at locations not yet determined.
The trustees will also consider approving the board’s 2020 calendar.
Another item on the board’s agenda Monday is to recognize the fall 2019 outstanding staff member, Dan Dellar, director of the WSCC criminal justice program.
The Michigan State Police Hart Post participated in the “Stuff a Blue Goose” for Christmas, an event to benefit the less fortunate in the Hart and Ludington area.
The state police has long referred to its patrol cars as a “blue goose” and hope to stuff them with new toys and non-parishable food items this year.
Community Service Trooper Todd Goodrich was stationed at Walmart to accept donations Friday afternoon and early evening. Goodrich had a one of the state police’s SUVs he was aiming to fill.
“This started in 2009 statewide, and Hart has been doing it for about six years,” Goodrich said.
“I feel blessed and like to give back,” said Linda Grinnell of Branch.
Joey Castonia of Ludington said he saw the police car and wanted to give back to people to who protect and serve. He gave a toy.
Erika Minnberg and her children donated items for the cause.
“I like to teach them to share,” Minnberg said.
One man said he does this every year, and since he is older and doesn’t get gifts, it’s good to donate for others.
The Salvation Army will be picking up the truck full of toys and non-parishables and distributing Dec. 21.
The Ludington Area Senior Center was in the spirit of the season throughout the week, with a variety of different activities held each day, culminating in a “spa day” on Friday morning.
Vickie Collins, senior center director, said the activities were part of a week-long series of open houses to promote the senior center and offer different activities to patrons.
“The point is just to raise awareness and do some different things,” Collins said. “We did (activities) with beeswax, we did a card-making class, we made ornaments — just to do things we don’t do on a regular basis.
“Now we’re doing this spa day and this is the end of it.”
The spa day featured an essential oils workshop led by Karen Bieniek, who showed center visitors the various therapeutic benefits of different oils.
Bieniek has been working with essential oils for about three years. She said her interest in them was peaked when her husband’s sense of smell, which had been dulled, was reinvigorated by exposure to aromatherapy.
“He’d gone through all the tests and MRIs and he’d seen doctors ... and they told him he’d never regain his sense of smell,” Bienik said. “So he started using peppermint and basil three or four times a day.”
After about three months, she said, he smelled the basil and had a response.
“It was the first thing he’d smelled in years,” she said. “And that showed me a sign that (essential oils) are really more than just a pretty smell.”
Bieniek explained other elements of essential oils, too. Peppermint oil, she said, helps repel spiders and ants. While lemon and lime are good antioxidants.
Attendees learned about different oils and had a chance to make their own oil mixtures to home.
The spa day also featured chair massages by Angie Young of Ludington Holistic Health LLC, who said chair massages are low-intensity and a bit less intimidating for some people than table massages.
Young has been working as a masseuse for 16 years after studying the practice at Muskegon Community College, and Friday’s spa day event was her first time at the Ludington Senior Center.
Collins said the open houses held throughout the week also consisted of a raffle
Elsewhere in the senior center on Friday, volunteers were hard at work wrapping and packaging gift items for the Angel Tree program, which helps make sure that people who might not have loved ones or family in the area have something to open for the Christmas holiday.
Mary Vree and Jean Kobylecky were in the center’s back room, tallying up items and making sure the right gifts were going to the right people.
“We talked to MediLodge and Meals on Wheels and Grancare and others, and we got the names of people who don’t have anyone who would give them a Christmas gift, because maybe (their loved ones) are deceased, or out of town,” said Vree.
Once they know what people have asked for, Vree and other volunteers write those requests down on tags that can be picked up by anyone who wishes to purchase items for one or more of the people on the list.
This year, there were 137 people who had made requests through the Angel Tree, and Vree said they average about three or four gifts per person, totaling more than 400 wrapped presents.
“The community support has been amazing. Many people picked up three or more tags,” Vree said, adding that area businesses have also contributed. “Metal Works and Whitehall Industries have been really helpful … Their employees picked up a lot of tags.”
Most of the requests are reasonably priced and practical, she said.
“People just ask for simple things like hats, bath robes and things you need to get through the winter,” Vree said.
Some of the Angel Tree gifts were be picked up by employees from local agencies on Friday, and Vree said she hopes to have every gift on its way to the proper recipient by Tuesday, Dec. 17.
“Now we’re in the process of making sure everyone gets the right gift,” Vree said.
Foundation for Mason County shares
nonprofit wish list
The Community Foundation for Mason County is in its third year of inviting area nonprofits to share which near-term projects and purchases — or “wishes” — that need financial support from the community in order to be carried out.
Last year more than $14,000 in wishes were granted, including a desktop computer, crisis care kits, a point-of-sale system, a history of women in the arts celebration, an aeroponic plant growth system, program supplies for children with special needs, a virtual learning webcam and more.
This year, more than 55 wishes were submitted by nonprofit organizations. They can be found at www.mason-foundation.org/community-wish-lists. The overall list is divided into wishes costing less than $500, $500-$1,500 and $1,500-plus.
The wish list ideas span the county geographically and across interest areas — from education, recreation, environment and the arts to community development, health and human services and more.
“This is a great opportunity to make a real difference for the many organizations doing good in our community who are operating on tight budgets,” said Andrea Large, Community Foundation executive director.
The Foundation encourages the greater community to check out the posted wish lists, and then contact the nonprofit organization directly to support a wish.
For more information about granting a wish contact Andrea Large at (231) 845-0326 or email@example.com.
The Ludington City Council on Monday will consider approving both the city’s proposed 2020 budget and also some contracts, including one to address shore erosion.
The council will consider awarding a $185,000 contract to Hardman Construction for the installation of a seawall made of sheet piling to stop the shoreline erosion at Maritime Heritage Park.
The park, located just north of the Loomis Street Boat Launch, has been impacted by powerful waves this year, and the sidewalk along the shore has been destroyed.
“Wave action from high Lake Michigan levels have eroded the shore along the west side of Maritime Heritage Park. It has been determined by Prein and Newhoff Engineering that the installation of steel sheet piling will curtail further erosion,” stated Department of Public Works Superintendent Joe Stickney to the council.
Stickney said that bids were solicited from local contractors to install the sheet piling, and Hardman Construction was the lowest of the three contractors that bid.
The other two companies were Adams Marine Construction, which offered to do the work for $236,170, and Hallack Contracting, which bid to do it for $285,000, according to the memos from Prein and Newhoff. If the contract with Hardman Construction is approved by the council on Monday, then work on the site could begin during January.
Following a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Monday, the council will vote on approving the proposed 2020 budget and capital improvement plan for Ludington.
The city’s general fund is expected to total some $6.6 million. The budget was developed to meet the following requirements and with the following concerns in mind, according to City Manager Mitch Foster in the budget document:
• “Maintain a 25% fund balance (or ‘Rainy Day Fund’) (in the general fund) in order to deal with lean years, as represented during the Great Recession from 2005-2011. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends that municipalities keep a fund balance that is equal to between 20%-25% of their annual expenditures in their general fund,” Foster stated.
• “Continue to make investments in upgrading physical capital items as well as maintaining a productive and experienced workforce. Both of these items require financial investments on an annual basis in order for them to keep up with the needs of tomorrow,” he stated.
• “Upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant which was started in 2019 and should be finished by the end of 2020 in order to avoid enforcement action and possible fines from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy for the State of Michigan. In addition, the city must also determine next steps with regards to de-sludging and closing our east lagoon and sludge storage pond,” he stated.
• “Finally, the city must continue to address our long-term liabilities in an effective yet sustainable manner in order to not leave these unpaid debts to the next generation of taxpayers. Whether that is infrastructure or employee benefits, liabilities can no longer be something that we push off and worry about later,” Foster stated.
The council will consider appointing the Mason County Prosecutor’s Office as its attorney for the city’s criminal cases. The city has contracted with the county for the prosecutor’s services for many years. The new proposed contract for 2020 would be increased by $525, according to a memo from Foster to the council.
The council will consider appointing people to serve on the city’s official boards for 2020. Mayor Steve Miller has been collecting letters of interest from residents willing to volunteer to serve on the city’s boards, and the council is expected to vote on approving his selections for the positions. The mayor and council will also appoint the members of Ludington’s standing committees for the new year.
Another item on the agenda is to set the council’s meeting schedule for 2020. Meetings are proposed to continue to be held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, with the exception of March, May and December, when the meetings would be held on the first and third Mondays.
SCOTTVILLE — Increases to water and sewer charges in Scottville could be coming down the pike in 2020, and the city commission is set to begin a discussion about whether or not water and sewer rates will need to go up during Monday’s regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Scottville City Hall.
City Manager Courtney Magaluk told the Daily News on Friday that no immediate increase in the cost of water to residents is planned, but noted that it could be a necessity later in the year. She is recommending that the issue be discussed by the city’s sub-committees.
“It’s not a rate increase yet. My feel is that it will probably go to one of the committees for additional discussion,” Magaluk said. “If you would like to refer this to one or more of the committees for further discussion, I think it would be beneficial.”
In the meeting notes, she stated that the discussion of water rates was prompted by the City of Ludington — which supplies water to Scottville — approving its water rate schedule for the upcoming year, and increasing the costs of its supply.
“At their last city council meeting, the City of Ludington adopted their 2020 water and sewer rate schedule. The water rate charged to the City of Scottville is increasing approximately 7.4 percent, with a more moderate increase of approximately 2 percent in the sewer rates,” Magaluk stated.
She added that the costs of recent repairs to a wastewater lift station used by the city and Amber Township could also contribute to the a water-and-sewer increase.
“In addition, we know that we will need to also consider adjusting rates based on the Lift Station 1 improvement project and potential remediation of inflow and infiltration issues,” she said.
The City of Scottville last raised its rates in January, when water and sewer rates went up by 4.5 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Magaluk said the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) approved moving forward with an acquisition of the Scottville Optimist building and grounds for the purposes of developing a community park on the property.
In November, the option of leasing the grounds was discussed and the commission recommended that the city’s finance committee look into purchasing the property outright rather than leasing it for a five-year period.
The finance committee and DDA are recommending that Magaluk and the city commission identify the best way to move forward with the purchase.
The commission will also discuss filling the First Ward commission seat vacated by Sue Petipren on Dec. 2.
Magaluk said one person has expressed an interest in the position, and is encouraging other First Ward residents who wish to serve on the commission to submit a letter of interest before Jan. 1.
City commissioners will also consider making appointments to the Downtown Development Authority Board.
“The DDA Board currently has two vacant seats, as well as two seats that are up for reappointment,” Magaluk stated. “The expiring seats are currently held by Carla Mayer, representing Mason County Central, and Nancy Sanford, representing West Shore Bank. Both wish to continue serving.”
Roy Holden, co-owner of Holden’s Home Emporium, has expressed an interest in filling one of the vacant DDA seats, according to Magaluk.
The DDA is seeking someone to fill the remaining seat, which Magaluk said would ideally be filled by February.
Also on Monday, Eric VanDop, CPA from Brickley Delong, will present its audit for the city for fiscal year 2018-19.
The city commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Scottville City Hall, 105 N. Main St.