2013-12-26 / Living

Take 5

Looking back on the top news of 2013
BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

There was no shortage of news as 2013 wound down in Swartz Creek and Clayton and Gaines townships.

Here's a little bit of a time capsule for your scrapbooks:

Meijer comes to town

Meijer, Inc. had been planning to enter the Swartz Creek market since 2006.

In September 2012, construction finally began on the 190,000-squarefoot super center on Morrish Road at Interstate 69. The store opened May 16, bringing 300 full- and part-time jobs to the community.

Reports stated that the structure is a prototype for future Meijer facilities, boasting more environmentallyfriendly details such as high-efficiency lighting to reduce the retailer's carbon footprint.

In reference to its many contributions to the community, Swartz Creek Mayor David Krueger has called Meijer "a good corporate citizen."

At the grand opening, Meijer donated $15,000 to the local food pantry, plus $10,000 for the city to use on civic projects. The retailer also has donated to the Performing Arts Center, as well as Shop with a Hero and the annual Swartz Creek Police Department bicycle giveaway.

Curtain rises on PAC

For many area residents, a grand performance venue had long been a dream. That dream finally came to life when the $13.6 million, 47,000- square-foot facility opened Sept. 5.

The Swartz Creek Performing Arts Center was funded through Qualified School Construction Bonds, a federally backed loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The district is paying just 0.6 percent interest over the life of the bond, saving more than $5.4 million in interest, according to reports.

Voters supported the project when they approved a 20-year renewal of a sinking fund millage that generates $1.6 million annually, records show.

The building features a 650-seat theater, classrooms for drama, band and choir, dressing rooms, storage for props and costumes, a workspace for building scenery, state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, a 2,700- square-foot lobby, a 3,500-square-foot stage.

Teachers settle

After working more than a year without a contract, the Swartz Creek Education Association in November accepted pay cuts proposed by the board of education.

Negotiations began in March 2012 but broke down over teacher salaries.

Educatorsoffereda1percentpay cut for the 2013-14 school year, and no increase the following year.

Theadministrationwanteda5percent cut plus freezes on pay raises linked to continuing education and longevity.

The two sides moved through the collective bargaining process, including fact finding and mediation, before administrators announced in October that the two sides had reached an impasse and the board was prepared to impose its "last, best offer."

Teachers took a 3.5 percent pay cut through the end of the 2013-14 school year, although they will reclaim 0.5 percent next year, records show.

The agreement will save the district $1 million.

Bueche resigns

Many in the Swartz Creek community were stunned and saddened by the announcement that City Manager Paul Bueche planned to retire for health reasons. Bueche has not publicly released details of his health concerns.

Bueche, formerly chief of police, was interim city manager twice – in 1997 and 2000 – before being hired as permanent manager in 2002.

Zoning Administrator Adam Zettel will take the reigns Jan. 2.

Zettel was first hired by the city in 1999 when he was 18 years old, working for the Department of Public Services. He had served as assistant city manager, but resigned in 2010 to become second-in-command in Owosso.

City OK's public safety assessment

This is one to keep an eye on in the new year.

With dwindling revenues and rising expenses, city leaders were in a quandary over funding for public safety services.

Dec. 9, council voted 4-3 to assess 4.9 mils against all properties within the city limits to pay for the police and fire departments. The decision did not sit well with some residents, who want council to put the matter to a vote of the people.

The vote drew a threat of recall.

However, as council members pointed out, citizens could force a referendum ballot by submitting petitions signed by 10 percent of the voters

Return to top

Copyright 2010-2018 The Swartz Creek View, All Rights Reserved