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Local News Summary - July 18, 2018 Edition

Johannesburg-Lewiston schools construction projects on track
During the July 7 Johannesburg-Lewiston School Board Meeting, Superintendent Kathleen Xenakis-Makowski provided updates on the current renovations being completed at the Johannesburg school. All June projects are on schedule. The exterior office construction is going according to plan, bathroom projects are underway, and the carpeting installation is on track, with classrooms currently being done, as well as the lighting being worked on.

Discussion was held regarding securing a tax anticipation note. The school board will bid out money to borrow from the bank at a lower rate than the increase in construction costs annually, which will allow them to get more of the projects done now, versus if they wait until next year. The note will be paid back through next years collection of sinking fund money. A motion was put forth and passed unanimously to borrow funds in the amount of $250,000 that will be repaid from the 2019 sinking fund collection.

At the meetings conclusion, a finance meeting was scheduled for the July 17 at 9 a.m.

DNR land acquisition changes for 2018
Effective July 25, Public Act 238 eliminates the 3,910,000-acre limit on the Department of Natural Resources acquisition of land north of the Mason-Arenac line. However, it prohibits the DNR from acquiring land in a county where at least 40 percent of the land is owned by the state or the federal government or was commercial forestland if the county rejects the acquisition, unless the township approves it.

The law requires the DNR to consider access to and use of public land and the existence of natural resources-based industries on the land before officially designating or classifying any of its land. It prohibits the DNR from promulgating a rule or issuing an order to protect and preserve property under its control that limits access to any land, unless the land was acquired with certain funds or the order is in response to an emergency.

The law is to provide procedures by which a local unit of government or organization can request the DNR removes a human-made barrier to DNR land and requires the DNR to remove a barrier within 180 days after the request is approved.

The DNR is required to consider selling land if the prospective buyer is a business seeking expansion that is limited by adjacent state land. Proceeds from sales are to be deposited in the fund that provided the revenue for the DNR’s initial acquisition.

A $300 application fee will accompany most exchanges or purchases of state-owned land. PA 238 allows the DNR to sell surplus land if the sale promotes economic activity in the state. It deletes a provision prohibiting the DNR from authorizing the sale of surplus land if the proceeds cause the balance of the Land Exchange Facilitation Fund to exceed $25 million.

The DNR’s forestry development, conservation and recreation management plan must include early harvest objectives for all state forestland by forest region for a 10-year period. The DNR is required to prepare for sale at least 90 percent of the yearly statewide harvest objective.

County road update projects in full swing around the county
The July 12 Road Commission Meeting featured updates on the audit and the various projects happening around the county. The board decided that the auditor did not need to come and present to the board. They also discussed the possibility of having the auditor only come every other year.

Next, the board moved into discussing reports on the various current projects. A possible renovation to McSwain Road. was discussed as a future project. The road commission is currently working on or completing: Seal coating 487 S. to the landfill; Tree removal on 622; staking on Jesse and Pine Oaks Roads in preparation for tree cutting; Twin Lakes Sub has been staked and will be cleaned, shaped, and blacktopped. The active project updates were approved.

A final note was made that the 2006 Internationals have major repairs needed and are in the process of being fixed.

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Amber Hutchison
Carol S. VanVolkenburg

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