Roads, infrastructure dominate spring 2-percent grants
ARENAC COUNTY — Money for roads, and other infrastructure projects dominated the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s spring 2-percent grant distributions to municipal entities May 30.
Arenac County received $210,000 from the tribe, with $185,000 allocated for continuing work on Sagatoo Road around LaFave Road. The county also received $20,000 for new courtroom equipment and another $5,000 to go toward cleaning up county rivers.
County Commissioner Jeff Trombley was on hand to accept the funds, and spoke about the importance of keeping the roads in good shape. He said he knew when the tribe started the grants in 2008 that roads would need to be a priority.
“Without roads, you can’t have any kind of an economy,” Trombley said. “People won’t come up in the tourist industry and drive on the roads that the farmers are used to.”
The city of Au Gres also received $50,000 to continue work on repairing and improving the city’s boundary roads with the neighboring townships. The city has been working with its neighbors on the roads for some time, City Manager Pat Killingbeck said, adding the council appreciates the support.
Omer received $2,030 to purchase weed barriers, trim and rubber mulch for the playground the city had just installed at the park next to city hall. Mayor Alice Sproule said she had underestimated the cost of the playground when the city was awarded the initial grant to build it in November, and after issues with getting cement for it, the city ended up falling short.
“My focus is not on roads but on children,” Sproule said. “We’ve got a wonderful library thanks to the tribe, a fence around it and a beautiful playground.”
Other area cities, Standish and Pinconning, received funding for police equipment. Standish received $3,610 for taser and other supplies, while Pinconning received $2,332 to upgrade the city’s outdated phone equipment.
The village of Sterling was given $12,611 for its sewer lagoons improvement project. Village President Jim Hazeltine said the sewer improvements are projected to cost a total of $1.2 million, so “anything is a big benefit to the people in the village.”
The general township distribution was $1,000, but some townships received additional funding for other projects. Arenac Township was given $6,100 for a veteran memorial, while Au Gres Township received $4,700 to continue improvements at Linwood Cemetery. Lincoln Township received $1,000 for a mobile food pantry.
Mason Township received $10,000 to go toward work on Lehman Road, while Pinconning Township received $15,000 for Hunter Road work and $14,351 for firefighter safety equipment and training. Turner Township received $10,000 for its road gravel fund.
Standish Township received the most out of any of the townships, however. The Standish Area Fire Authority was given $34,000 for fire and rescue equipment, and another $5,000 went to the township to improve the township hall. Another $25,000 was distributed for work on the Budd Drain, which runs through Standish Township.
Township Supervisor Robert North said as a longtime resident of Standish Township, it was a pleasure to get to work with the tribe.
“I grew up a mile or so away and I used to fish in the creek,” North said. “Seeing the casino come into the area has been amazing. My granddad was in the township too, but he never got to work with you fellows.”
Tribal Chief Dennis Kequom spoke positively about the requests the tribal council gets from local municipalities and schools.
“You guys make good, sound decisions, and for us it’s hard to make the decision on who gets what,” he said. “If you don’t get something this time, just keep putting in for it.”