Letters to the editor July 7

Hannah’s Legacy Foundation
Dear Editor,
The Hannah’s Legacy Foundation would like to thank everyone that attended and/or contributed to our 1st annual golf outing and dinner that took place on Monday June 25.
Eighty-four golfers participated and an additional 30 or so guests attended dinner. The generosity of the sponsors, golfers and the entire community raised over $10,000, an incredible amount for our first year event. We also want to thank all the volunteers that helped out with registration and at the prize holes.
The money that was raised will fund scholarships to deserving Goodrich students.
We intend to carry on all the good Hannah did in her life and through the foundation, we will!
We hope to see all of you again next year! Thank you SO MUCH!!!!
Jeff Dawley
Ortonville air quality stinks
Dear Editor,
Monday was a gorgeous day – plenty of sunshine and a delightful breeze that was billowing through the open windows of my house. Later that evening, I was looking forward to a night with the windows wide open and plenty of fresh air. Alas, that wish was short lived. All of a sudden the air was rancid with a sooty smoke that permeated the entire house. Within minutes the house smelt like a three day old ashtray. “Someone’s burning again”, I said to my wife as I hurried to close all the windows in the house.
I wish I could say this is an isolated event in this town, but unfortunately it is not. I have lived in the Village for the last 25 years and this smoke infested, rancid phenomenon is a regular occurrence. I feel like a prisoner in my own house and I finally have had enough of being the “good neighbor” and saying nothing while this health menace continues to threaten the very air that I breathe.
I grew up in Downriver Mich. in the 50s, with Mclouth Steel, Great Lakes Steel, Zug Island Blast Furnace Division and two chemical plants on the north and south side of town. On a warm summer evening you could smell the sulfur in the air and the night sky would be orange from the industrial smoke stacks spewing their ash heaven bound. I’m telling you that the Village air quality is worse than that!
Every day I see all types of people on my street: walkers, joggers, bicyclists, moms with babies and even the elderly walking with canes. We are causing grave harm to the health of all these citizens, especially the lungs of our young children and the elderly.
Let’s stop this madness of outdoor burning and put an end to it, just like we banned smoking in public buildings. Our toxic air is as dangerous to the citizens of Ortonville as the water quality issue is to Flint!
What I would propose is to simply ban all outdoor burning in the Village. An ordinance would allow burning yard waste only for one designated week in the spring and one designated week in the fall. We would allow burning on special Village events, such as the annual Halloween Bon Fire. Everyone would know of these dates in advance and for the rest of the year enjoy the clean good air that we are all entitled to.
I’ve suffered in silence for too long. My lungs and the lungs of all our citizens deserve to breathe clean air!
Very Sincerely
Patrick George
Ian Shetron for 51st House
Dear Editor,
The Genesee County Republican Party has endorsed (only!) Ian Shetron, candidate for the 51st House District seat in the House of Representatives for the August 7 primary election.
Morally principled, Ian is unambiguously pro-life and the 2nd Amendment.

He keeps his commitments. (How rare is that?!) Check “Ian Shetron.com” for additional information on how he plans to fight for working class taxpayers, small business owners, veterans, and seniors.
Please help me to elect Ian Shetron to the Michigan House of Representatives for the good of all of our constituents and the Great State of Michigan!
Audrey Amberg, AtlasTownship
(In response to, The Citizen, June 30 Let’s correct some information, a letter by Bob Depalma, page 7 and Setting the record straight, a letter by David Ax, page 9.)
Set the record straight

I am responding to the Groveland Township Fire Department (“GTFD”) and North Oakland County Fire Authority (“NOCFA”) June 30, 2018 Letters to the Editor authored by Mr. Robert DePalma and Mr. David Ax.  As I read both letters, I couldn’t help but notice how they directly reminded me of the “Survey” the Board sent out to some residents:  so clearly biased, incomplete, misleading and lacking in accurate information and facts – completely slanted toward NOCFA.

Mr. Depalma stated:  “The township does not have $7.2 million in reserve.  The amount is all funds including fire department and reserve, township budget and reserve, building department and reserve, and infrastructure reserve for projects and all operation funds for the year.” [Emphasis added]  Mr. Ax stated:  “While our cash on hand is around $7.2 million that is all funds and is the money needed to fund all budgeted expenses for our fiscal year 4-1-18 to 3-31-19, NOT a cash reserve account.” He further stated: “Just because the township has X amount in the bank . . .”.

Please be advised the $7.2 million figure was provided by the Board at the Township meeting during the debate concerning the fate of Fire Station 1 when a resident asked the Board how much money the Township had in the bank.  For clarification purposes:  Is it true the annual Groveland Township budget is around $1.13 million?  If so, that still leaves millions “in reserve”, regardless of what it may or may not be ear-marked for.  What exactly is that “X” amount in the bank, Mr. Ax?

Mr. DePalma stated: “NOCFA is not an unknown fire authority it started in the 80’s” – this is a true statement as per NOCFA’s website, they formed in 1984.  Let’s not fail to mention that GTFD was formed in 1974 – also not an unknown fire department.

Mr. DePalma stated:  “NOCFA’s ISO and ours are exactly identical as of August 2018 no change.”  Additionally, he stated:  “Nothing proposed in either option would change our ISO from 3.”  Mr. Ax stated:  “Contrary to rumors, NOCFA has a 3 ISO rating that would also apply to our residents if they provided our emergency services.  Our insurance rates will not go up!”  First, let’s acknowledge that if GTFD joins NOCFA, NOCFA will then have a 105 square mile area to cover.  Groveland Township consists of a 36 square mile area.  While GTFD and NOCFA both currently enjoy ISO 3 ratings, it is physically and mathematically impossible for NOCFA to cover 105 square miles within the same response time and with the same level of service that GTFD presently covers 36 square miles; therefore, our ISO rating WOULD raise, absolutely affecting homeowners’ insurance rates.  Additionally, let’s not forget the Groveland residents who would then fall outside of the “5 road mile” ISO proximity requirement (because NOCFA is 3.2 miles further away from Groveland’s Station 1) who would automatically lose their ISO 3 rating upon a merger with NOCFA.  All the facts need to be presented when statements are made.

Mr. DePalma stated:  “If we had joined there would be staff for use in Groveland and ideally the same people for the most part, if they wanted to.”  Is he saying there are job guarantees for GTFD personnel?  Is he stating no GTFD personnel would lose their jobs?  His statement is unclear and vague.  It is my understanding that possibly half of the Groveland staff might have jobs available at NOCFA, “if they wanted to”.

Mr. DePalma stated:  “We only considered NOCFA because they also provide ambulance service.”  This is a complete contradiction to his previous numerous statements during Township meetings where Mr. DePalma stated this merger consideration was based on finances, that finances were the reason the issue even came up – so which is it?  Additionally, while NOCFA does have ambulance service, it is a fact that GTFD’s successful patient hospital discharge rating (57.1%) is far better than NOCFA’s (0%), by an astounding 57.1%.  (Per the CARES Summary Report provided by the Board at a Township meeting.)

Mr. DePalma stated:  “It is possible to leave the fire authority and retain everything you brought to the arrangement.”  Once again, another misrepresentation of the facts.  Per Assistant Chief Mason during Township meetings, the ability to recover any of Groveland Fire Department’s equipment should the merger fail is a question of timing.  If a merger fails shortly after the merger takes place, chances are GTFD would be able to recover a portion (hopefully a large portion) of their equipment; however, if the merger fails later on, it is likely GTFD would get very little if anything at all back due to depreciation, equipment being sold, etc.  Would we just be handing all our equipment over to NOCFA in the first place?  Assistant Chief Mason stated in a Township meeting that Groveland Township would be paying NOCFA $600,000 per year for fire and emergency services.  I don’t believe most residents are aware of what they may be giving up, nor the yearly cost for services.

Mr. DePalma stated:  “While the fire loan was paid off 3 or 4 years early, it drew down the reserves because they could not meet the cash requirement totally.  The loan was only at 2%.”  Is Mr. DePalma insinuating it was such a low interest rate that paying it off early with monies on-hand was a mistake?  I do believe it was prudent and proactive in 2016 for then Fire Chief McGee to pay the fire loan off early as it saved thousands in interest; it was a very dollar-wise use of cash that was on-hand.

Mr. DePalma stated:  “The Township has repeatedly put large amounts from our cash reserves into the fire department …”.  Since the Fire Department is the only service Groveland taxpayers have available, what is wrong with using Groveland taxpayers’ money to help fund it?  Taxpayers expect to pay for the outstanding services our Fire Department provides – again, the only service we have.  Let’s also not forget that the GTFD goes well above and beyond the “fire and emergency medical services” tasks; for example, they have gone out during storms to cut-up downed trees that have blocked roads, as well as helped our residents with many other emergency tasks that are not in their job description.

Mr. Ax’s letter listed many of the Groveland Township accomplishments over the last several years.  No one is taking anything away from the previous accomplishments of Groveland Township; however, we need to address the present issues.

Mr. Ax stated:  “As to the allegation by a resident that the fire dept had an equipment replacement plan, it wasn’t until very recently that an equipment replacement plan was submitted and it was so huge it had to be reduced TWICE to be even remotely feasible.  The board had been asking for a plan that was doable for years.”  I believe Mr. Ax is referencing my Letter to the Editor posted online on The Citizen website in which I stated:  “Additionally, we do have a Vehicle Replacement Plan in place which will utilize the yearly excess in the GTFD budget as well as the sale/trade of vehicles being replaced to defray the overall cost when new vehicles are purchased.”  Again, the Vehicle Replacement Plan was provided by the Township at a meeting.  Mr. Ax’s statements that: it was only “recently” provided . . . “had to be reduced TWICE” . . . “The board had been asking for a plan that was doable for years” all appear to be administrative in nature, and have nothing to do with the simple fact I stated:  The Fire Department has a Vehicle Replacement Plan, period.  I refuse to be drug into any interoffice drama or administrative squabbles.

Both Mr. DePalma and Mr. Ax state they will be happy to address any further questions specifically “at the office” – they mention nothing about discussing this important issue where it should be discussed:  at Township meetings.  Why is that?  Residents deserve and are demanding a full picture of the true facts with accurate information as well as open transparency prior to any decisions or votes which can only be accomplished at open Township meetings, not individual appointments “at the office”. 

Fern Ogans

Groveland Township Resident

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