Jun 07

Get connected with the community - run for City Commission!

Posted on June 7, 2022 at 10:18 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

Dais, microphones, and chairs in Battle Creek city commission chambers

It's a local election year again, and these are hugely important positions on your election ballot!

If you are looking for a way to get more involved in your community, consider running for a seat on our Battle Creek City Commission! There are:

  • Mayor - One, directly elected on the ballot, must be City of Battle Creek registered voters
  • Ward commissioners - Five, represent neighbors in a specific geographic area, must be City of Battle Creek registered voters and live in the wards they wish to represent
  • At-large commissioners - Three, represent the entire city, must be City of Battle Creek registered voters

The sitting commission chooses the vice mayor among themselves. 

City Commissioners serve as a connection between neighbors who live in the city, and city staff. They meet twice a month, typically on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, at 7 p.m. They consider the city budget each year, city projects, development of all types, local ordinance changes, and much more. They learn about the many issues that involve a full-service city through packets of information prepared for each meeting; city staff work with them and answer questions along the way. The commission also holds workshops, extra meetings where they do not take action, but learn about and can ask questions about a particular issue.

Here are some numbers to help you plan a potential run for City Commission:

  • June 6, 2022 - Petition packets became available at the City Clerk's office, Room 111 at City Hall, 10 N. Division St.
  • 50-75 - The number of valid signatures required for ward candidates, from City of Battle Creek registered voters
  • 100-150 - The number of valid signatures required for mayor and at-large candidates, from City of Battle Creek registered voters
  • July 26, 2022 - Final deadline to return petitions to the City Clerk's office, by 4 p.m. - NOTE: We recommend returning petitions early, if possible, so candidates can seek additional signatures if any are found to be invalid.
  • Aug. 2 and Nov. 8, 2022 - primary and general elections, respectively

There is much more information here online at battlecreekmi.gov/elections. You can also call the City Clerk team at 269-966-3311. Stop by for a packet from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Whether or not you choose to run for a position on the City Commission, we urge you to vote in this year's elections! Check out michigan.gov/vote for voter registration information, polling place information, sample ballots when they are available, and more.

Apr 08

City airport unique, operating at highest standard!

Posted on April 8, 2022 at 2:56 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

Six men wearing jeans & blue shirts or black jackets, standing in front of yellow airport snow plow. Airplanes on pavement behind them. Blue sky.

Photo: Standing in front of an airport snow plow are the airport teammates certified to do our FAA inspections: (from left) David Erhart, John Gray, Jonathon Young, Mitch Dadow, Jim Tobias, Chuck Orr

***

The city’s Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field is unique in many ways, and one of those is its most recent Federal Aviation Administration inspection – which it passed in mid-December 2021.

Because BTL – the shorthand for the airport – does not offer commercial service, the FAA does not require document and field checks. The state would typically handle that for us. But new Interim Aviation Director Philip Kroll said there are several reasons why BTL chooses to receive these annual inspections – backlogged due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Helps us comply with requirements for grants we receive
  • Makes it easy for us to keep following airport safety requirements
  • Helps us identify any problems, and keep up with records

“Being the third busiest airport in the state, we are holding ourselves to the highest federal standard,” Kroll said. “Even though we don’t have commercial service, we want to meet that safety standard.”

BTL’s late 2021 document inspection found three technical issues to correct – but with no legal enforcement necessary – we were a month off checking specific field lights within six months of each other; we have to ensure proof of Battle Creek Fire Department Airport Rescue Fire Fighting training (much different than typical firefighting), and we have some staff behind on field driving training (staff including airport tenants, like Duncan Aviation and WACO Aircraft). The airport corrected all of these issues in February 2022.

We have not received an FAA inspection of the air field since 2019, with no major issues at that time. Kroll doesn’t know yet when BTL will get its next field inspection.

But that inspection involves doing what our airport team does every day – someone must drive around the roughly 1,260-acre airfield to inspect every light, sign, and piece of pavement. Once a week they do the same check at night. They will do special inspections due to weather, or a problem with a plane (like it lands, and pops a tire).

The daily inspection typically takes an hour or two, and most of the BTL staff can do it; they must have FAA training and certification.

“They assess what they find,” Kroll said. “If it’s an immediate action, like a pavement crack where an aircraft could lose control, they would get the crack sealant out there to fix the problem.”

They might have to remove a piece of trash, cut grass in an area where it has grown too tall, or fix a pothole caused by a lightning strike.

While airports are all similar, they all have a unique layout and factors that dictate their operations and inspections. The FAA checks an airport’s certification manual, unique compliance document, training records, emergency plans, snow and ice plan, wildlife management plan, and other documents critical to operating an airport safely.

The city’s Battle Creek Executive Airport has operated for nearly a century, and also is home to the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, the Battle Creek Air National Guard, and 55 private tenants. With many recent business expansions around the airport, and consideration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems drone operations, it is an incredible city asset, and important to our economic development. Learn more at flybtl.com.

Paved airport taxiway with yellow stripe down middle. B 31 sign to left. Grass to left and far end.

BTL airport taxiway - every day our team inspects the signs, pavement, pavement markings, and lights to make sure they meet FAA regulations.

 Drifts and arcs of snow with airport blow shadowed in the middle.

Snow plowing doesn't just happen on city streets! The BTL team must remove snow from runways, taxiways, and ramps, and update pilots throughout every snow storm.

Feb 27

Back on the agenda: Traffic control + Territorial/28th Street

Posted on February 27, 2022 at 11:15 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

On Feb. 15, the City Commission tied the vote on whether to make new stop signs on Territorial Road at 28th Street permanent. By city ordinance, a tie vote is a defeat. We removed the stop signs that Thursday, Feb. 17, adding signs to the 28th Street stop signs, saying that cross traffic (on Territorial) does not stop.

This issue is coming back to the City Commission agenda this Tuesday night, March 1. The short of it is that the commission could take a new vote on the issue. If they do, the intersection could stay as it is now, or we could be putting the stop signs back on Territorial. Keep reading to learn how this could happen.

Neighborhood intersection with stop sign on corner; street signs for Territorial Road and 28th St.

The issue comes back to the agenda at Vice Mayor Kaytee Faris's request (she was absent from the Feb. 15 meeting). You will see the item on the agenda under the heading "Commission Comment Regarding Meeting Business." The agenda item is a motion to rescind the Feb. 15 vote, and present it to the commission at the March 1 meeting for a new vote.

This doesn't happen very often, so we want to break down what could happen at the March 1 meeting (assuming all nine commissioners are there):

  • Any of the commissioners could make the motion to rescind the Feb. 15 vote and add a new vote to the March 1 agenda. It does not have to be Vice Mayor Faris, and it does not matter how a commissioner voted on the original vote.
  • If that motion does not get support from a second commissioner on March 1, the issue will stop there.
  • If commissioners move and second the issue, they will vote on it. If it fails, the Feb. 15 vote stands, and the intersection will stay as it is now. If it passes (at least five yes votes), the Feb. 15 vote on the stop signs is canceled, and the commission will have a new vote on the issue that evening. 
  • If there is a new vote, and at least five commissioners vote yes, that would mean we put the stop signs back on Territorial, making the intersection an all-way (four-way) stop permanently.

This started with a neighbor request in July 2021. Our Traffic team investigated the intersection and made a temporary traffic control order - for 90 days - as allowed by ordinance. The intersection became a four-way stop in November 2021. By our ordinance, the city commission votes on whether to make this type of order permanent, which led to the Feb. 15 vote.

Another item on the commission's March 1 agenda relates to the way the traffic control order process works. The commission will vote on whether to introduce an ordinance that would give the Director of our Department of Public Works the authority (with City Manager approval) to put in place some types of traffic control - including stop signs and yield signs at intersections. The commission would still vote on traffic issues like one-way streets, and extending a no-parking zone more than one block.

Tune in to the March 1 city commission meeting starting at 7 p.m. This meeting is in person at City Hall, 10 N. Division St. To give public comment, you must attend in person. You also can email your comments to CityClerk@battlecreekmi.gov before the meeting. The Clerk's Office will share those with commissioners, but will not read them at the meeting. You also can watch the meeting on AccessVision cable 17/917 or at the Live 17 tab at accessvision.tv. We also live stream commission meetings on the City of Battle Creek YouTube channel.