Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 23, 2013

Acme cuts township manager post


---- — Acme cuts townshipmanager post

ACME — Members of Acme Township’s Board of Trustees voted to eliminate their township manager in an effort to cut costs.

Sharon Vreeland, who held the position since 2005, was fired March 19 at a special board meeting. She worked for the township since 1996.

Supervisor Jay Zollinger said the decision was not based on Vreeland’s job performance. The board looked at townships of similar size and determined most don’t have a township manager.

Vreeland’s duties will be divided among Zollinger, the clerk and treasurer.

Clerk Christine Bassett resigned at the March 19 meeting because of family matters. Board members plan to appoint a clerk to serve until the November 2014 election.

Zollinger said the decision to eliminate Vreeland’s job is “not one you like to do, but sometimes you have to make choices that are important to the township and the people that pay the bills.”

Overall, the cut should save the township about $70,000, Zollinger said.

3 air traffic control towers to close

LANSING — Three air traffic control towers in Michigan are among 149 nationwide that will close as a result of federal budget cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.

The shutdowns are the result of the FAA’s move to reduce spending by more than $600 million under automatic federal budget cuts. The airports will remain open, but airport officials raised concerns that the closures will impact flight safety, capacity and efficiency.

“I don’t want to run around and say the sky’s falling, but are we going to be able to perform at the same capacity that we are today?” said Larry Bowron, transportation director at W.K Kellogg in Battle Creek, which will see its air traffic control tower closed.

“Are we going to ... be able to maintain the same safety record? I can’t promise that,” he said.

Other airports on the air traffic control closure list include Coleman A. Young in Detroit and Sawyer International in Marquette County’s Sands Township.

The FAA cuts affect mostly small- and medium-size airports, though officials predict flights to major cities could have delays.

Pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers, something they are trained to do.

But Bowron compared it to pulling the stoplights and stop signs from a busy intersection and telling drivers to communicate with one another about when to stop.

“You’re going to have congestion and fender-benders,” he said.

Court OKs new coal-fired unit at plant

HOLLAND — The Michigan appeals court says state regulators legally approved the city of Holland’s application to expand one of its coal-fired power plants.

Environmental groups sued in 2011, saying the plan didn’t comply with the Clean Air Act and that the state didn’t consider cleaner technologies.

But the appeals court disagreed in a ruling released Friday that affirmed a decision from an Ingham County judge. The three-judge panel says the Department of Environmental Quality conducted an adequate analysis of the best available power-generating technologies.

In 2011, state environmental officials reversed an earlier decision and approved a permit to install a 78-megawatt boiler at a city-owned plant. It was to replace an 11-megawatt coal generator built in 1953.