News stories to watch for in 2018

The new year provides an opportunity to look ahead at some of the topics expected to make headlines in the coming months.

Here is an overview of some of the projects that are in the works and on the minds of local movers and shakers.


In Swartz Creek, city officials have a lot of irons in the fire, not the least of which is the nascent 20-year street improvement plan. This year, work will include replacing the roadway and water main on Daval Drive.

City Manager Adam Zettel said he is also working on ironing out some issues regarding scheduling and communications with contractors working on the street projects.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will continue to pursue state funding to extend the Genesee Valley Trail from Flint Township to Elms Park, and ultimately to Winshall Park. The park board has applied for grants through the departments of Transportation and Natural Resources. Results are expected this year and, if successful, the city could begin work by early next year.

The Downtown Development Authority has been busy with plans for the vacant city-owned property at Miller Road and Holland Drive. Unofficially dubbed Holland Square, the DDA and elected officials are leaning toward a public commons/parking area with pavilion.

Zettel and city staff are forging ahead with meeting requirements for the Redevelopment Ready Communities program, which will help draw new enterprise to the community and help with efforts to market the former Sports Creek Raceway and downtown Swartz Creek.

Additional priorities include:

Establishing a reliable budget surplus that will enable tax reduction, improved services, or some combination of the two.

Strengthening the partnership with the Swartz Creek Community Schools to provide excellence for existing residents.

Establishing a process to best position the community to thrive with the pending announcement of “Project Tim” in Durand. And,

Working with Genesee County to provide an additional feed to the west end of the community and thereby ensure more water pressure reliability.


Clayton Township Supervisor Chris Gehringer says the board of trustees will focus on furthering road reconstruction efforts on 26.5 miles of gravel roads. Work will include ditching, culvert replacement and narrowing existing road surfaces, turning over existing road gravel and adding gravel to the revised surface.

“For many years, the road surface has received only the gravel and, as a result, the width of the road has grown to the point that it could not be maintained properly,” Gehringer said.

“The Road Commission puts down a very specific amount of chloride per lane mile every year and due to the extraordinary width of our roads, we are unable to provide what we and our Road Commission representatives would consider proper coverage.”

The road plan also includes resurfacing Duffield Road, Gehringer said.

Structural improvements are planned for the parking lot at fire station #2 at Seymour and Corunna roads, and at the township hall, where Community Development Block Grant money will pay to bring the front entrance into compliance with Americans With Disabilities Act standards.

“Clayton (Township officials are) committed to providing our community with the best possible public safety programs,” Gehringer said. “(We have) maintained a very high standard for (our) police and fire departments and, as a result, crime is down and fire safety is being maintained under unprecedented professionalism.

“I am extremely proud of our police force and jointly-maintained fire department and I look forward to continuing our relationship with our neighbors to the south, Swartz Creek city, in order to provide the quality of public safety coverage to which we have grown accustomed for many more years.”

With the Karegnondi Water pipeline going live in December, township officials are expecting new opportunities for growth to follow.

“The KWA is now fully on line,” said Gehringer. “As a result, it will bring many opportunities for progressive minded communities such as ourselves. Clayton Township’s Planning Commission will certainly be keeping this in mind during the coming year.”

New construction already is on the uptick, and Gehringer said he anticipates Clayton Township will prosper as a result.

The Genesee County Drain Commission will continue to remove trees in various trouble spots, and improvements to Bendle Cemetery will include a four-acre expansion.

“Our zoning administrator and code enforcement department will continue to make strides to monitor our township for blight, and endeavor to provide prompt service when complaints regarding zoning infractions are received,” Gehringer said.


In Gaines Township, Supervisor Paul Fortino says the coming year “presents unique challenges for the Gaines Township Board due to the financial restraints we are under.”

Fortino said he and other elected officials will continue work on developing ways to improve the township’s infrastructure, and fund those improvements. Roads, including many miles of gravel roadways, ditches, drains and bridges are some of the board of trustees’ longest standing and top priorities.

“We also must provide for the facility improvements that are needed and find funding for the equipment that must be replaced,” he said.

The township operates on just 1 mil, which pays for basic programs, with additional levies and/or fees collected to support services such as police protection, garbage collection and mosquito control.

Last November, voters rejected a millage request that would have generated funds to expand the fire department’s station 1 and replace aging equipment.

“The Board remains committed to providing services and improvements while being fiscally responsible,” said Fortino.

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