NEW BUFFALO – The New Buffalo Township Board really “Zoomed” through the agenda of its Nov. 16 virtual meeting, which lasted only 15 minutes.

One action taken was approval of a $50 hazard pay stipend for each of the eight election workers from Nov. 3.  Along with Clerk Judy Zabicki and Deputy Clerk Kathy Butler, the team worked a 17-hour day and handled 1,631 voters, about 300 shy of the total 1,942 registered voters in the township. 

By comparison, 1,334 township residents voted in the 2016 Presidential election and 1,332 cast ballots in the 2012 General Election.

“We had a constant flow and the workers did an excellent job. We took excellent precautions with masks, plastic face guards and sneeze guards. They put themselves out there and no one likes wearing a mask for 18 hours,” Zabicki said, noting that some election workers throughout the state, but no township workers, have contracted the virus. 

Zabicki added that she was grateful at the end of the day when the number of ballots that went out balanced with the number that went through the tabulator. That was not the case in 2018 when the tabulator repeatedly jammed so the workers had to do a hand count and re-enter every ballot. 

After the votes are tabulated, the election workers have to verify all the paperwork and run four sets of tabulator tapes to include in the packets that are taken up to Berrien County Offices in St. Joseph that night. Zabicki said she got home this year at 1 a.m. Nov. 4, versus 7 a.m. in 2018. 

Both Township Supervisor Michelle Heit and Zabicki thanked Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Ryan Sullivan for having a deputy assigned to the township office on election day and said the deputy’s presence was “much appreciated.” 

In another Nov. 16 action, the board approved an $11,000 contract with Antero Group for engineering and grant research on the 9934 Townline Road parking lot project — slated to be part of the Union Pier Redevelopment Project in which New Buffalo Township is participating with Chikaming Township. 

“Hopefully, there won’t be any out of pocket costs for the township,” Heit said. 

Later in the meeting, Heit encouraged residents to drive through Union Pier where both Townline Road and Red Arrow now have a base surface and are open to trraffic. The project involves reconfigurations of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, stormwater sewer improvements, streetscapes and additional parking. 

“The fun stuff is coming later in spring, but you can get an idea for it.  It’s exciting to see it start to come together,” Heit said. 

Zabicki, who is the township representative to The Pokagon Fund, reported that the Fund held an e-mail vote to approve a $25,000 grant to fund a mental health specialist for New Buffalo Area Schools. The specialist, along with the district’s social worker, will be available to help for in-person and virtual students. 

“They (the district) are seeing a need for it. Kids are social. They want to be in school. They are frustrated being on line and a lot of things.  It’s hard on them,” Zabicki said.

Fire Chief Jamie Flick reported that the cadet program is going well and later in the meeting the board approved the appointment of Nicholas Peters and Andrew Flick, both high school juniors, as new cadets. Flick also mentioned that the township’s old fire truck, which is being replaced with the new one on order, is being purchased by Superior, MT.

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