NEW BUFFALO — Members of the New Buffalo Township Board bid a fond farewell to retiring Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Julie Flick during their June 15 meeting.
“This is a sad day for us,” said Township Supervisor Michelle Heit before reading the following: Deputy Julie Flick started with the Sheriff’s office on June 8th, 1995, as a deputy in the Jail Division. On November 4th, 1996, she went to the Enforcement Division as a patrol deputy. She has been the command officer in charge of the New Buffalo Township Sheriff Patrol since April 2nd, 2007, when the township first contracted with the Sheriff’s Office for police services.
Julie was voted Deputy of the Year by her peers in 2011 while a sergeant. She was promoted … to lieutenant on March 9th, 2015.
This is Julie’s last official day with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and her last with us. At a time when we only seem to care about bad cops … we need to hear more about the Lieutenant Flicks of the world. She served this community with kindness and care as a wonderful example.
Heit went on to thank Flick for her “many years of service to our community” and noted that “she will be missed and her shoes will be tough to fill.”
“We hope you enjoy your retirement … We hope that maybe you’ll pop in our meetings once in a while.” (her husband, New Buffalo Township Fire Chief Jamie Flick quipped “I’ll drag her along”).
“I’m not going to disappear at all, I will still be around,” Julie Flick stated. “I’m just going to take a couple months off, got a lot of projects around the house to do … enjoy the summer, and then we’ll see what fall brings. I’ve got to do something.”
While welcoming Lt. Ryan Sullivan as the new head of the New Buffalo Township patrol, Heit said she always has referred to Julie “as our police chief, so I guess you’re our police chief now.”
“I’m very happy to be back, it feels like a homecoming for me,” Sullivan said, adding that he spent 10 years working out of the New Buffalo office before a few years away and is a lifelong Chikaming Township resident.
Sullivan noted that Julie Flick “taught me well.”
Heit said she always heard from residents how kind Flick was.
“You were always there to help.”
Sullivan delivered the monthly Sheriif’s Patrol report, noting that the quiet April stats — 55 complaints in the township with zero tickets and one arrest — are likely due to the COVID-19 situation. He expects low numbers in next couple of reports due to the pandemic and stay at home orders.
During the same time period Sullivan said the Sheriff’s Department only handled 830 complaints (many of them alarms) county-wide with 126 tickets issued and 84 arrests (he was delayed in giving the report on June 15 due to “educating somebody on the turn lane in the road diet).
Sullivan said officers have tried to be visible and patrol the road diet area on U.S. 12 and the Lake Shore Drive detour for the Union Pier project.
Heit later reported receiving “many emails” regarding the U.S. 12 temporary road diet striping that has transformed the roadway south of the city to the state line into two lanes of traffic with a center turn lane (U.S. 12 is slated to be resurfaced next year and the temporary road diet is meant to give municipalities a preview before they decide whether to go with three or four lanes permanently).
Heit said she feels the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) implemented the trial road diet poorly, adding that she has requested a “meeting with them to address how unsafe this is.”
During that meeting (held on June 18), Heit said she told Amy Lipset and Pete Pfeiffer there should have been lighted message signs warning drivers of the new lane configuration (currently there’s a lighted sign with a line).
She said plastic hash lines that were supposed to be placed in the closed lane did not happen because they were on back order. Heit said she feels there should have been more signage and barrels the entire three miles closing off the lane that is not in use now.
“I said that we realized that this is their decision, but our preference at this point would be that that restripe it back for the rest of the summer since it wasn’t done well,” Heit said on June 23. “If they are not going to restripe it back, I asked that they make significant changes to make it safer and more clear before July 4th. They have not gotten back to me with their decision.”
In other June 15 business, the New Buffalo Township Board:
• Were informed by Heit that the Exit 1 bridge project on Harbor Country Drive was nearing its completion, with some fencing, sign and concrete work remaining as of June 15 as well as additional electrical work needed to get the lights on.
• Heit said “a lot of applications” had been received for rental licenses in the wake of the state re-opening vacation rentals, adding that inspections are being done in the order such applications are received.
• Heit said a study determined that the township’s two percent annual sewer rate increase is sufficient to run the system and do projects in the 20-year capital improvement plan.
• Adopted a 2020-2021 budget (following public hearing with no comments) showing projected general fund revenues of $1,021,450 and expenses of $995,772. The public safety millage fund is projected to total $5,797,300 in revenues and transfers, and $5,604,540 in expenditures.
• Judy Zabicki noted that a restoration of the township’s operating millage (from .39 mills to 1 mill) will be on the August ballot.
• Approved a special land use request for Rolling Prairie Excavating to operate an excavation business at 10769 Behner Road subject to conditions involving setbacks, visual barriers, delivery hours and other stipulations.
• OK’d the purchase of a 2015 Ford utility vehicle for $5,000 from the Village of Grand Beach to be used for various departments.
• Agreed to have the Berrien County Road Department conduct speed studies for Community Hall Road (from Union Pier Road to the south) and Union Pier Road (from Locke Road to Lakeside Road).
• Approved purchasing replacement radios for the Water Department at a cost of $7,390.40.
• Voted to issue 2020 General Obligation Limited Tax Bonds for the new public safety building.
• Accepted a water main extension across Red Arrow Highway at Community Hall Road on the recommendation of
Prein & Newhof (the bid came in at $40,000 — half of the preliminary estimate).