Searching for new police chief; Trent leaving village

 

ALMONT – The Almont Village Council came together on Tuesday, May 21 to discuss a number of issues related to staffing for high-level positions in the village.

The posting for the police chief’s position has been garnering responses since it went live, said Almont Village Council President Steve Schneider.

The posting indicates the position is for an interim chief, and Schneider expressed his concern the interim designation “may detract from potential applicants who are looking for a permanent position.”

Conversely, the interim designation, said Schneider, would allow for a “testing period” for the village and the candidate, “to see how it works out.”

The Almont village council had a full agenda at their May 21 meeting, including discussion of hiring a new Police Chief.

The job posting is live until Thursday, May 30. Schneider sought to form an ad hoc interview committee for the position of interim police chief during Tuesday’s meeting. He said the committee should count among its number “one or two” village council members as well as a police chief from a neighboring municipality.

He said he also extended an invite to Lapeer County Prosecutor John Miller, which was accepted. Ultimately, the ad hoc committee’s formation was tabled until the council’s next meeting on June 4.

The council deliberated on a separation agreement with the current village manager David Trent.

Trent has been on extended leave due to health issues, and former Lapeer city manager Dale Kerbyson has been serving as acting (interim) village manager since that leave began in January.

The village council received the proposed separation agreement the afternoon before the meeting on Tuesday, signed by Trent, in accordance with an agreement reached between Trent and the village.

Kerbyson said it’s planned that Trent will be in town on May 30 to finalize the separation.

The council members in attendance voted unanimously to authorize Schneider to sign the separation agreement.

In other council action, at the last meeting, representatives of the Clinton River Watershed Council provided the Almont Village Council with a presentation about their organization and benefits of membership.

Councilmember Steffler said the reception among the village council was “positive” regarding the presentation.

“It’s a good return on investment if we decide to pursue” membership, she said. “It’s a good thing to do to highlight our connection to the watershed and raise some awareness there, and have some benefits for the park.”

The village council voted unanimously to join the Clinton River Watershed Council for the 2024 calendar year.

An agenda item carryover from last week’s village council meeting appeared on Tuesday related to the approval of Special Events to occur in the village’s new social district.

Schneider said the postponement was intended to allow further deliberation as well as to provide council members a precise map of the planned district.

Approval from the state’s Liquor Control Commission was awaited as well.

The village added a social district in February that created commons areas adjacent to the intersection of M-53 and St. Clair Street.

Special Events approval would allow for those commons areas to be used for various downtown and village events.

Dyke said a further hoop to jump through in fully activating the social district is the state’s requirement that at least two individual licenses are awarded to participating businesses that are approved by the state and the village council.

Council’s approval on Tuesday, which passed unanimously, was contingent in the motion on those two licenses being awarded and the social district’s activation.

Following the council’s approval of the special events designation, council members heard from a local business owner who sought to apply for that social district commons area license.

The social district application was approved for downtown business Mikey’s, with Schneider abstaining from the vote due to a professional relationship with the applicant.

The village council unanimously approved the Almont Downtown Development Authority’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025.

Large expenditures include the plan to purchase the old American Legion property on School Street with the intent to create a public parking lot, as well as appraisals underway for three other vacant lots to be converted into public parking lots in the downtown area.

Almont’s wastewater treatment plant was suffering from “several failing issues in the system over a year ago,” said Kerbyson, with damage to a sludge pump revealing these issues.

Damage to the pump was caused by a decaying sludge storage tank, which resulted in cement fragments passing through the pump.

That pump has been rebuilt “more than one time,” said Kerbyson, but currently operates at approximately 85% efficiency due to the damage from the cement.

Kerbyson recommended the village ship the pump back to the manufacturer for a full rebuild, which additionally would provide a one-year warranty. The council opted to follow that recommendation for refurbishment, unanimously approving the plan.

Kerbyson informed the council that new signs indicating the prohibition of “jake braking” have been installed.

“Jake braking” is another term for semi truck compression release engine braking, a method of braking that creates a significant sound when compressed air is released through the truck’s exhaust.

The technique is prohibited in many residential areas statewide, and the ordinance to prohibit jake braking on streets within the village of Almont was approved in November of 2022.