The Jackson Five: Municipal officials fired, retire amid controversy; spelling bee winner crowned; city hopes for chunk of $1 million for recycling program

JACKSON, MI – Welcome to the Jackson Five, your weekly peek at five
Jackson-area government and school stories you may have missed, and a
look ahead at what to expect next.

FIRED: Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton said an investigation into a possible assault by former Albion City Manager Dan Bishop was completed and turned over to the county prosecutor Monday, March 17.

Bishop, who had been city manager since July 2012, was fired by the Albion City Council last week.

AMID CONTROVERSY: Blackman Township Treasurer Sherry Brockie has retired unexpectedly, eight days after the Board of Trustees approved pay raises for her and two other elected officials amounting to almost $100,000.

Brockie retired and Deputy Treasurer Ashley Tarasiewicz resigned as of Tuesday afternoon, March 18, township officials confirmed Wednesday morning, March 19.

CAN YOU SPELL ‘WINNER’?: As the rounds climbed to a record number and the words in the Jackson Citizen Patriot Spelling Bee got harder and harder, Sean Hickey barely broke a sweat.

“I didn’t feel very calm on the inside,” said Sean, a seventh-grader at Grass Lake Middle School. “The worst part was when he got one word right and I knew he needed just one more word to win.”

THE BUS STOPS HERE: Jackson Public Schools has moved one of its bus stops after learning a registered sex offender is living in a house at its original location.

Parents were notified Monday, March 17, that the bus stop used by Middle School at Parkside students has been moved about a block south of its original location at Blackstone and Trail streets, Craig Frazier, JPS transportation director said.

REDUCE, REUSE, ALLOCATE $1 MILLION: City of Jackson officials hope state lawmakers endorse Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget, which sets aside $1 million for a statewide recycling initiative.

“I think this is a good policy coming out of Lansing,” said Jackson City Councilman Derek Dobies, 6th Ward. “Jackson isn’t designated … as being convenient for recycling. It’s nice to see some coordination with the state.”

LOOKING AHEAD: Jackson City Council will meet 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, on the fifth floor of the Jackson County Tower Building, 120 W. Michigan Ave.

Contact Will Forgrave at or 517-262-7554. Follow him on Twitter at @WillForgrave.

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Fired Albion city manager allegedly grabbed former city employee from behind at party

MI – Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton said an investigation into a possible
assault by former Albion City Manager Dan Bishop was completed and turned over
to the county prosecutor Monday, March 17.

who had been city manager since July 2012, was fired by the Albion City Council
last week

confirmed Monday that Bishop allegedly grabbed a former Albion city employee
from behind at a retirement party last month. Albion Public Safety Chief Scott
Kipp said the investigation was turned over to the sheriff’s department due to “conflicts
of interest.”

said he believes the alleged victim wants to talk to Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert before possible charges are filed.

incident could simply be an assault or it could be a criminal sexual conduct
charge,” Saxton said.

(Related: Albion officials refuse to say why city manager was fired, deny part of FOIA request from Citizen Patriot/MLive)

City Attorney Cullen Harkness said city officials followed Bishop’s contract when
they fired him “with cause” and did not issue him a severance, despite no charges being filed against him.

Albion officials have directed questions about Bishop’s firing to the city attorney. Bishop could not be reached for comment.

investigation into Bishop’s alleged actions began after the Albion City Council
voted 5-2 to terminate Bishop’s contract Monday, March 3.

Contact Will Forgrave at or
517-262-7554. Follow him on Twitter at @WillForgrave.

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City of Albion cracking down on late-night fireworks

Cascades Falls End of Summer FireworksPeople watch as fireworks explode during the Cascades Falls End of Summer Fireworks Show at Cascades Falls Park on Saturday, August 31, 2013. A week later, Albion City Council moved forward with a new law that would prohibit the use of consumer grade fireworks within city limits.

ALBION, MI – Albion residents who have trouble sleeping around
the Fourth of July can put the earplugs down, at least between midnight and 8

Albion City Council members voted unanimously this week to
move forward with a city ordinance that will prohibit overnight fireworks
within city limits.

Council members are set to vote on the final
adoption Monday, Sept. 16.

On the heels of a state law amendment, local
governments are free to enact and enforce firework regulations

Albion’s ordinance prohibits blasts
between midnight and 8 a.m. on the days before, on and after national holidays.
Consumer grade fireworks are not allowed any other day of the year.

Local units of government with a population of
at least 50,000 residents or those within a county of at least 750,000
residents are able to prohibit blasts between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. on and around
most holidays under the new state law. New Year’s celebrations, however, must
be allowed to continue until 1 a.m.

Violators under the new ordinance could be
punished by a fine of up to $500, the maximum penalty allowed under the new
state law.

“About three or four years ago the state removed all local
control over fireworks and allowed them around national holidays 24/7,” Albion
City Manager Dan Bishop said. “After a number of complaints they allowed local
governments to restrict the times fireworks can be set off.

“People have to sleep,” he said.

Michigan’s fireworks law, put to the test for
the first time in the summer of 2012, allows licensed vendors to sell
high-powered, airborne fireworks that were previously illegal to state
residents without a license.

Citizens were free to shoot off fireworks
anytime the day before, on or after a national holiday. While vendor fees
generated new revenue for the state, the blasts also generated many
late-night noise complaints.

Holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther
King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus
Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

If passed Sept. 16, the ordinance would go
into effect in mid-October, according to Bishop.

“The law goes into effect 20 days after we
publish it in a local newspaper,” he said.

Jackson City Council members passed a similar ordinance
earlier this year, prohibiting the discharge of fireworks between 1 a.m. and 8

Contact Will Forgrave at or
517-262-7554. Follow him on Twitter at @WillForgrave.

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Northwest Refuse officials threaten to stop Albion recycling service after garbage is found in containers

0104894_2.JPGKaren Swanberg of Cement City empties glass containers into a recycling bin at the Northwest Refuse Inc., 2600 Lansing Ave. Similar containers in Albion have been filling up with trash, and prompting Northwest officials to threaten to discontinue the service to Albion residents.

MI – Trash is piling up in unlikely places in Albion, and city residents may
suffer the consequences.

City Manager Dan Bishop said people are dumping their trash in the city’s
24-hour recycling center behind City Hall, 112 Cass St., leading Northwest
Refuse officials to threaten to stop the service.

week, Northwest picked up the recycling and found that most of it was just
garbage,” Bishop said.

Refuse Vice President Bill Thomas said the company pulled two, 15-yard
recycling containers and found that they were 100 percent trash when workers dumped them.

is not what this program is intended to be,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, the
actions of a few individuals has created a big enough problem that we will be
forced to discontinue this service if we are unable to come up with a solution.”

said the city is currently in the process of getting quotes to install security
cameras facing the recycling center.

will be mounting cameras to identify the perpetrators and we will then
prosecute,” Bishop said. “The whole community shouldn’t lose for the actions of
a few.”

to Bishop, there is no deadline for the city to comply with Northwest official’s

Contact Will Forgrave at or
517-262-7554. Follow him on Twitter at @WillForgrave.

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Albion officials decide to put some aspects of downtown development on hold, contract with Concord company for $575,000 summer project

wf_web_albioncityhall.JPGThe Albion City Council met Monday evening at the Albion City Hall and voted to contract with a Concord-based company for nearly $600,000 in renovations to downtown Albion. 

ALBION, MI – Albion officials this week chose to put select downtown improvements on the backburner.

The city in December was awarded nearly $500,000 in grant money from the state to improve their downtown corridor. About $120,000 of the $465,000 grant will be matched by the city with money from its street fund, water fund and sidewalk millage.

Originally set to garner up to $675,000 from the state, Albion was awarded less than $500,000 because city officials in December over-estimated how much the project would cost and how much funding the city would need.

Now, some aspects of improvement may have to be pulled from the original plans.

Officials originally expected to purchase new trash cans, renovate sidewalks, mount new banner poles, change street signage and install electric car chargers on a stretch of Superior Street in downtown Albion.

Albion City Council members voted unanimously Monday, June 17, to contract with Concord Excavating and Grading, with the stipulation that the street sign replacements and electric car chargers be put on hold due to the bids for the project coming back “higher than expected,” according to Albion City Manager Dan Bishop.

Three Michigan companies bid on the job as a whole, with Concord Excavating and Grading, Inc. coming in low with a $574,074 bid.

Work will begin following a pre-construction meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, according to Bishop.

Bishop said the city needed more wiggle room than the $10,000 difference between the grant money and the bid moving forward.

“We have to remember what the meat and potatoes of this project are,” Bishop said. “The sidewalk replacement is the most important aspect.”

The area of sidewalk slated for replacement runs north to south on Superior Street from Michigan Avenue to Erie Street and one block east to west.

City officials originally hit a roadblock with the downtown renovations when DPW Director Kevin Markovich made City Council members aware that there are state laws that regulate signs on highways.

“A lot of people don’t realize it, but Superior Street is M-99, which means we have to follow state rules about what signs can look like, which ties our hands as far as creativity and color,” he said. “They have to be green; they have to have white letters. There’s a lot of stipulations.”

Bishop said he’ll continue to look into ways to install electric car chargers at a minimal cost to the city.

“I’m continuing to do research about the electric car charging stations,” Bishop said. “There’s a possibility that we might be able to get them free. Education institutions and municipalities getting free car chargers is not unheard of.

Contact Will Forgrave at or 517-262-7554. Follow him on Twitter at @WillForgrave.

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