Sunday, February 21, 2010

Master Plan Survey Update

The following was released to the Morning Sun last week. We have been told that it will likely run on Monday or Tuesday of this week.

------

As part of updating the Master Plan for the community, the Village of Lake Isabella has launched an online survey. The survey of about 40 questions can be taken by clicking on the link provided on the Village’s homepage (www.lakeisabellami.org).
On January 29th the Village mailed nearly 1,600 postcards to all property owners and non-owner residents inviting them to take the survey online. As of the middle of this week about 275 surveys have been completed.

The link to the survey has been on the Village’s website since the start of the month, and will continue to be on the Village’s website until the start of business on Monday, March 1st.

For residents who are unable to take the survey online, the Village has printed copies which can be mailed to them, or picked up at the Village Hall. So far about 20 residents have stopped by to obtain a printed copy of the survey.

By going online with the survey as opposed to traditional printed surveys, the Village will be able to save between $3,000 and $6,000. In addition to this cost savings, since the surveys are counted as they are submitted, results will be ready as soon as the survey closes.

The last survey conducted by the Village was done in early 2005 as part of the last Master Plan update. That survey, which was a traditional paper survey, saw nearly 600 responses. That high rate of return ensured a margin of error of about 3%. With the current number of replies the margin of error for the current survey is just over 5%.

Since the 2005 survey, the community has seen numerous changes which were guided in large part by the direction provided from that survey and resulting Master Plan. High among the residents’ wishes in 2005 were natural gas service, paving local streets, and high speed internet access.

The Village was able to successfully carry out those wishes to varying degrees. In 2006 high speed internet access came via wireless service from Winntel on a service tower located on Queens Way. Since 2006 additional companies have also added Lake Isabella to their service area. Still on hold is word from Charter Communications regarding the Village’s grant to upgrade the cable system at Lake Isabella. This update would not only provide quality cable television service, but also additional broadband access.

In 2007 the Village undertook an extensive street paving project of over 13 miles, leaving only a handful of local streets untouched per the request of a majority of property owners on those streets. The Village has also adopted a long-range asset management plan for their street network, and includes these long-range projects in the Capital Improvement Budget which is annually adopted by the Village Council.

In 2008 DTE/MichCon developed a natural gas infrastructure for most of the northern half of the Village servicing about 600 homes. Then in 2009 Consumers Energy proposed building out the remaining un-serviced areas in southern Lake Isabella totaling about 180 homes. That project stalled after an insufficient number of residents opted for the service being offered by Consumers.

The new survey not only covers future infrastructure desires, but also provides property owners with a chance to express their desires for any public new services and other quality of life issues.

###

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gift shop opens at Lake Isabella


By SUSAN FIELD
The Morning Sun, Clare Managing Editor

After working for 14 years as a designer in flower shops in Mt. Pleasant and Weidman, Sue Chapman decided to go into business for herself.

She always wanted to open a gift shop, and her experience in floral design prompted her to open Buds and Blossoms Gift Shop in Lake Isabella.

Located in the Sunset Plaza at 50 N. Coldwater Road, Buds and Blossoms features floral arrangements, plants, baby items, gourmet instant coffees, candles, jewelry, cards, gift wrap, Jelly Belly candies, country items and Country Home Creations dip mixes.

Gearing up for Valentine's Day, Chapman also has a supply of Valentine candy and is extending her hours for the holiday.

While Chapman is normally closed on Sundays, Buds and Blossoms will be open Feb. 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Chapman, who lives in Sherman Township, opened the shop in Lake Isabella because of growth in the area.

She saw a need for a flower and gift shop in the mostly residential community.

Chapman delivers floral arrangements to Mt. Pleasant, Beal City, Weidman, Remus, Barryton and Mecosta.

So far, business has been good, Chapman said, adding that owners of other businesses in the Plaza, including Out-A-Bounds Pizza and Bella Salon and Spa, have been very supportive.

Candles are a best seller at the store, particularly the warm cinnamon-bun scented, soy candle.

"Some of the ladies come in and buy two or three at a time," Chapman said, adding that more and more customers are discovering the shop and stopping by.
Soy candles are becoming popular because they burn cleaner than wax candles, she said.

Chapman opened the shop Sept. 14.

She was tossing around potential business names when her granddaughter, Makenzie, suggested Buds and Blossoms.

That fit perfectly, Chapman said, with Makenzie being the "blossom" and her grandsons, Lukas and Jakob, being the "buds."

Chapman wanted to open a business close to her home.

"I don't like the drive in the winter," she said. "I just thought this was the perfect place.

"I've always wanted a gift shop."

Chapman hosted an open house in November, with positive results.

"That was awesome," she said.

Sales spiked around the holidays as well, she said.

Chapman isn't alone in her first business venture.

Her family helps out with deliveries, along with a good friend who was once a co-worker.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

From USA Today...

Below is an article from today's edition of USA Today. For the record, there are no plans, thoughts, or discussion to convert any of our streets back to gravel. Rather, this provides an interesting insight into the measures being taken to find a new balance of resources and services for public road agencies in these difficult times...



Tight times put gravel on the road

By Liisa Rajala, USA TODAY
Gravel roads, once a symbol of quaint times, are emerging as a sign of financial struggle in a growing number of rural towns.

High costs and tight budgets have prompted communities in Maine, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Vermont to convert or consider converting their cracked asphalt roads back to gravel to cut maintenance costs, officials in those states say.

New technology allows asphalt to be recycled into a durable gravel-like surface that is cheaper to maintain and adequately prevents potholes and mud, said David Creamer, a field operations specialist at the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Thirty-eight counties in Michigan replaced a total of 100 miles of asphalt roads with gravel because of decreasing funds in 2008-09, said Monica Ware, a spokeswoman for the County Road Association of Michigan.

In Montcalm County, Mich., 10 miles were converted to cut patching costs in 2009, said Randy Stearns, managing director of the county's road commission. He cited one road that cost a combined $39,244 in 2008 and early 2009 for patching, but only $7,300 to crush into gravel. More roads may be converted this summer, he said.

A 2006 study by the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies found gravel is cost-effective when daily traffic averages 200 vehicles or less.

Even so, some have concerns.

"None of these decisions should be made overnight," said Chris Plaushin, director of federal relations at AAA. "I think that gravel brings some conditions that they may not be used to. The drivers are going to have to exert a little more caution."

Elsewhere:

• Hancock County, Ind. County engineer and superintendent Joe Copeland said budget cuts required 11 miles to be converted last year. "They are holding up well," he said. Copeland said about three more miles may be converted this year.

• Cranberry Isles, Maine. Town Selectman Richard Beal said high asphalt and transportation costs led him to support gravel. The town will decide March 8 whether to replace its three major roads, he said.

Resident Gaile Colby, who lives on one of the roads being considered, called it a terrible idea. "Have you ever lived on a gravel road? In the summer it's like clouds of (dirt) coming through your house," Colby said.

• Tuscarora State Forest, Pa. The Department of Forestry converted 3 miles to gravel in 2008 and 2009, Forest Program Manager Matthew Beaver said, and more could be converted this year.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Budget as of 1-31




The weather has proven to be much kinder this year to our winter plowing budget. As of the end of January we have only expended 30.8% of our winter plowing budget. This is ahead of not only last winter's mark, but also historical trends. While February is a short month, on average the Village will spend just under 1/4 of the entire winter budget during the month.

I know we are among the many who hope that Punxsutawney Phil was wrong this morning, and we are treated to an early spring!