TAWAS CITY – With the various decisions made by public bodies, there can often be a lot of discussion and consideration involved. However, when approached with the idea of a flag project at their Aug. 3 meeting, the Tawas City Council had no hesitation approving the plan.
In addition to hearing Tawas Police Authority (TPA) updates, officials mulled the options for the Tawas City Shoreline Park pier rehabilitation project, as well.
It was noted that – as has been the case with every other project lately – the bids for the pier work came in higher than anticipated. So, the council discussed some alternatives which may help lower the cost. A summary will appear in a future edition of this publication, as officials were to delve into the options further on Monday, at their strategic planning workshop.
As for the flag project, this was brought to the council by Mayor Ken Cook, who also serves on the Tawas Kiwanis Club and Tawas Business Association. He advised that the groups are cooperating to promote an effort to place United States Flags along as much of the US-23 and M-55 corridors as possible in Tawas City.
For the inaugural display, the intent is to install the flags during the full weekends of Labor Day 2020, Veteran’s Day 2020, Memorial Day 2021 and Independence Day 2021.
Cook – who has taken the lead on the effort – shared that he has been considering bringing this to the area for some time, after learning about a number of other communities in which Kiwanis Clubs have initiated similar projects.
He said that – especially given the current state of the nation and the world – it is an appropriate time for the municipality to show its patriotism and community pride, as well as its respect to those who fought for our freedom, and who continue to defend it.
Cook explained that the idea was taken to the Tawas Business Association, which he says is currently a small group. But the hope is that maybe this project can also help grow the organization.
The plan is to line each side of US-23 with flags on certain holidays. They would run from the city limit near Huron Sports & Fitness, to the city limit near O’Reilly Auto Parts, as well as along a stretch of M-55.
Cook noted that it will take about 250-300 flags to do this effectively and make a statement. The individuals, businesses and others which are located within the involved sections of road will be asked to participate.
Since a large section of the project area also entails city-owned property, he asked the council to support either 50 flags, at a cost of $1,000, or 25 flags for $500.
To demonstrate how the project will appear, Cook has placed several flags on US-23, from Huron Coast Dental to the Iosco County Sheriff’s Office.
“I think it’s a great project,” said Councilman Jon Studley, who added that he appreciates Cook having spearheaded the initiative.
Studley remarked that he has viewed similar displays in other communities, and it always makes people feel special to see this.
He said he’s glad that this will be moving forward in Tawas City, and that he would be fine with approving $1,000 to increase the presence of the flags. “And maybe other people would join in, realizing that there’s a lot of areas still to cover.”
City Manager Annge Horning pointed out that the council budgets $1,500 each year, to give to the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce for the July 4 fireworks show. Since the fireworks were free this year – due to the delays during the 2019 event, as reported – Tawas City did not make a donation to this in 2020.
“So, we do have $1,500 in our budget for community promotions that we could put towards this project,” Horning said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” commented Mayor Pro Tem Brian McMurray.
He said that the sample of flags in the city really grabbed his attention when he drove by, and he thinks the project will be a great way to honor veterans, as well as to support patriotism in general.
These sentiments were echoed by the other council members, including Jackie Masich. She agreed that when this is done in other communities, it gets people’s attention. She also thinks that the flags which have been installed so far look really good, and that she would be okay with a $1,000 contribution, as well.
Cook reiterated that the flags will not be in place year-round, but only for the four holidays mentioned above. He said that if a holiday falls on a Monday, for instance, it’s likely that the flags will be installed the prior Thursday, remain in place for the weekend and then be taken down on Tuesday. Because this will be carried out by volunteers, it will depend on their schedules, as well as the weather.
“That makes sense. If they were up all the time, people would just get used to them and it wouldn’t have as much effect,” Masich said.
Since the council didn’t expend funds on the fireworks, Studley moved to use the full $1,500 on the flag project this time, and then revisit each item in the future, which was approved by officials.
In separate topics, they brainstormed ways to approach the hiring of a new TPA Chief, as Mark Ferguson is preparing to step down from this position.
As recently reported, Ferguson submitted a letter of intent to resign. He stated that this will likely occur within 2020, and that he has found an opportunity to start another career.
Horning, who also sits on the TPA Board, told the council that it was at the board meeting earlier that same day when they discussed a hiring committee for the chief position. They agreed to ask Iosco County Prosecuting Attorney James Bacarella, and Oscoda Township Police Department Chief Mark David, to participate.
Horning said the board would like the city councils to appoint two representatives from each municipality served by the TPA – East Tawas and Tawas City – and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the city managers. They just need to make sure they’re not appointing a quorum of the TPA Board members, between the two communities.
So, council members went over such items as the potential candidates to serve on the committee, whether this will be broken up into different sessions, if there will be one committee to review/narrow down the applications and a separate group to actually ask the interview questions, how many people will be involved and so on.
Applications for the job are due this Friday, Aug. 14, and Horning says she intends to share all of these with the council.
She added that, as of the meeting, four applications had been submitted. They were reviewed by Ferguson who, according to Horning, says that there are already some promising candidates.
The council gave consensus for Horning to have another conversation with East Tawas City Manager and TPA Chair, Brent Barringer, regarding the number of people to serve on the hiring committee, and the process involved with same.
In other TPA matters, the board recently held a special meeting, where Alexander Weiss presented the TPA assessment which was completed by his consulting firm.
It was summarized in detail in a previous edition of this newspaper. As noted, Weiss was brought on to perform such tasks as a review of the TPA policies, organizational documents and structure; to make recommendations to the chief and TPA Board; to examine the workload and staffing for the department; to obtain community feedback; and to review the authority’s Concept of Operations and Articles of Incorporation.
Horning said the TPA Board discussed the evaluation and decided that, before they can really do anything, they need to have a joint council meeting to go over what the mission statement, vision and strategic plan is going to be for the TPA.
The board is eyeing Monday, Aug. 31 as the date for the meeting. While an exact time wasn’t mentioned, Tawas City officials gave consensus that they are in favor of gathering on this day.
In separate police updates, Studley – who also sits on the TPA Board – said that the most recent officer to join the department is now able to work from a patrol vehicle independently. “I think we’ll notice some increased coverage a little bit, based on the fact that he’s in his own car now. So, we’re moving forward in a positive way.”