THREE OAKS — The Three Oaks Township Board voted unanimously on Nov. 8 to give members of the Three Oaks Fire Department pay boosts from their current $15-per-hour on-call” status rate.

The plan is to increase their current pay rate to $17.50 per hour beginning this month; increase that to $18.50 per hour for 2022-23; then escalate that to $20 per hour the following year, all when on “on call” status, to make their pay similar to other local fire departments.

Township Supervisor George Mangold said that having funds available to the township through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the fact that wages are increasing at businesses all around the nation do to difficulties finding employees, it seemed the timing was right for a pay increase.

“I want to make it clear that our fire department did not request this pay raise,” Mangold commented. “I’m very proud of our firefighters and all they do to help protect our communities as well as other communities in the area.”

Clerk Liz Zabel concurred and said that the Three Oaks firefighters were the lowest paid members of any fire department in the area.

“I think it’s ridiculous that they put their lives on the line for us for $15 per hour, the same rate of pay workers at McDonald’s receive,” Zabel said prior to the vote.

The monthly Fire Report submitted by Fire Chief Dave Flick contained information that the 2020-21 payroll ended Oct. 31, and during that payroll period the fire department responded to 88 calls.

Also on Nov. 8, Mangold reported that a funding request from the Friends of Berrien County trails organization that was tabled during the September board meeting may be back in play because, apparently, ARPA funds could be used to provide the requested funds.

“The deadline for that organization to accept funds was Oct. 31, but I’m quite sure any funding we could provide would still be accepted,” Mangold said.

Also on the agenda, Mangold reported that dialog with those involved with the Community Garden project continues.

“Right now they’re not being recognized as part of the Village of Three Oaks Parks & Recreation,” Mangold said. “It appears that they are able to move forward with their improvements plans, but I’m still trying to get some direction on who they are to report to. Hopefully by next spring that guidance and recognition will take place.”

Mangold also reported that the township had been granted a six-month timeline extension for submitting an $8,000 grant application to The Pokagon Fund that would be used to purchase an informational LED sign that would be placed in a high visibility space in front of Township Hall.

“The Village of Three Oaks has a sign ordinance, so we want to make sure ours would be in compliance,” Mangold said.

Pokagon Fund Executive Director Dan Petersen attended the meeting and assured board members that the grant request could be submitted at any time.

He was thanked for that organization’s ongoing support of township projects.

Finally, Mangold also announced that to help honor the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Rebecca Dewey Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) had purchased a special marker to dedicate the Butterfly Garden at the township’s historic Shedd Cemetery, and that dedication was scheduled to take place on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

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