Life Savers

Chikaming Township Police Chief Todd Taylor (left) presented special commendations to officers Josh Lyster (near left) and David Wyman, whose expertise and quick actions saved the life of Denise Newcom (center). - photo by John Gunner Gooch

HARBERT – Chikaming Township Assessor Toni Swisher’s efforts to identify parcels with omitted property values has proven to be a success.

During the Nov. 14 meeting of the Chikaming Township Board, a written report Swisher submitted was reviewed, and in it she stated that as of the end of September approximately 150 properties that had permits issued for new construction and/or remodels in year 2015 had been visited by her staff members, and that 51 of those had been identified as the subjects of omitted property tax value.

She reported that notifications had been mailed and official requests for adjusted values had been made to the State Tax Commission, and that upon the Commission’s approval, revised tax bills will be issued.

Supervisor David Bunte said that the added taxable value to the township would be $1.4 million on the positive side, resulting in approximately $10,000 in revenue going to the township, and approximately $59,000 going to the schools.

Swisher stated in her report that her staff would continue to collect data through the month of November with the anticipation of completing the audit of building permits issued during 2016.

During their Aug. 8 meeting the Board members approved a motion to allow Swisher and her staff to provide a data collection service for the audit of all permits issued prior to 2019 with an estimated schedule of 52 non-consecutive weeks, ending November of 2020.

In another Nov. 14 matter, there was unanimous approval on a motion that was recommended by Zoning Administrator Van Thornton requiring surveys of all structures and improvements for Land Division requests.

After review and discussion on the matter, there was unanimous consent to adopt a Fireworks Ordinance with provisions allowed under the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, as recommended by Chikaming Police Chief Todd Taylor.

Among other things, the new ordinance will allow the enforcement by township police officers for individuals lighting off consumer fireworks at any time within the township except on the following holidays: December 31 until 1 a.m. on January 1; the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days; June 29 to July 4 until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days; July 5 if that date is is a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.; and the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day, until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days.

Violators would be responsible for a municipal civil infraction and a $1,000 fine. Half of that amount would be remitted to the police department.

Also, if a police officer or reserve police officer determines that a violation has occurred, the officer may seize the consumer fireworks as evidence of the violation and issue a citation.

Another motion receiving unanimous consent was the levying of a $25 per month late fee for Rental Registration renewals that would begin after an initial 30 day period.

Bunte noted that nearly 500 rental properties in the township had submitted registrations.

Bunte said that approximately 85 percent of the engineering work for the Red Arrow Highway/Union Pier Improvement Project had been completed.

A tentative schedule calls for work to begin in late winter or early spring, with the bulk of it taking place from next mid-July through early November.

Updates on the progress of the project will be made available on a link via

There was unanimous support for a motion to appoint longtime Sawyer resident Greg Bunch to a seat on the five member Public Safety Commission.

The most emotional agenda item was the awarding of commendations for exemplary actions to township police officers Josh Lyster and David Wyman presented by Chief Taylor.

Taylor reported that the two officers were called for backup by the Three Oaks Police Department on Sept. 15, and they responded to the Journeyman Distillery where they found a woman in cardiac arrest who was not breathing. They immediately rendered aid and performed CPR on Denise Newcom, and thanks to their quick actions her heart began beating and she began breathing again. Her life was saved.

Newcom and her family attended the meeting so they could thank Lyster and Wyman in person.

“Without your expertise and the actions that you took that day, I would not be here,” Newcom said. “You’re a great team, and you have a great police department.

“If you’re ever having a bad day,” she told Lyster and Wyman, “please remember that day that you saved my life, and hopefully that will give you a reason to smile.”

Those remarks were followed by a long and loud standing ovation by all in attendance.

Finally, after the meeting adjourned there was a celebration held for all of those involved helping in the long process of producing a new Zoning Ordinance document that was adopted unanimously by the Board during a special meeting on Oct. 24 and goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Bunte and the Board members thanked many who lent their time and talents to the project, and they in turn were thanked by many for initiating the project and seeing it through to a successful conclusion.

“It’s a great living, breathing document that will be usable for a long time,” Bunte said with a smile.

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