BOC split on moving forward with facilities master plan; bank demolition bid approved

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

BELLAIRE – Presented with a surprise motion, the opinions of Antrim County's Board of Commissioners were split down the middle during its evening meeting Thursday, July 18 about moving forward on any proposed master plans for its facilities.

District 3 Commissioner Dawn LaVanway said after the meeting that she made the motion, which was supported by District 5 Commissioner Terry VanAlstine, to postpone moving ahead with any plans after she heard conflicting information at the board’s July 3 meeting, and information from Sheriff Dan Bean (during his annual report) indicating that the jail has not been as busy as it has been in previous years.

"In the beginning of the meeting on July 3 – which I was not able to be present at until later in the morning – according to the minutes, Chair Ed Boettcher talked about moving forward with the facilities master plan. No motion was put forward on this, the minutes just said there was a consensus to get (Antrim County Administrator) Pete Garwood to look for a facilitator to move forward with a special meeting," LaVanway said.

"I thought that was very deceptive," she said. "It looked like I agreed to it unless you read the complete minutes noting my early morning absence.

"So at the July 18 meeting, when the subject was brought up again, after hearing Sheriff Bean's report noting that the jail had less use in 2018 than it did the year before, I made the motion to postpone moving forward," she said. "This is no longer about a space needs master plan, but about moving forward with a jail, which I don't think we need.

"People don't want to pay for it and don't want the commissioners spending more money on this issue right now," she added. 

Agreeing with LaVanway's motion, besides VanAlstine, were District 2 Commissioner Josh Watrous and District 8 Commissioner Jason Helwig.

Voting against the measure was Boettcher, as well as Commissioners Karen Bargy, Brenda Ricksgers and David Heeres.

District 9 Commissioner Christian Marcus was absent from the meeting and did not vote. 

With a split decision, as required by Robert's Rules of Order, the motion failed.

Later, Boettcher said he had no idea that LaVanway would make a call to postpone moving ahead with the issue.

"We have already invested a fair amount of money into this," Boettcher said, referring to the $530,000 Antrim County spent to purchase the former Citizens Bank building to allow for a future expansion of county facilities and to the approximately $75,000 spent on consultants and legal advisors.

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