Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County is doing a better job of funding retirement plans for its employees, according to a new report from the Municipal Employees Retirement System, or MERS.

MERS is an independent organization that invests retirement funds for Michigan municipalities.

Antrim County

It’s been five months since a special prosecutor was asked to review a suicide at the Grand Traverse County jail. 

Alan Halloway hanged himself in the jail nearly a year ago. It took three hours for officers to find Halloway after he died; they were supposed to check on him every hour. 

An earlier investigation by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association found that two corrections officers did not follow jail policies and procedures; both officer no longer work there.

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City/Facebook

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City opened its doors Saturday. It's the first of its kind in northern Michigan.

Grand Traverse County

Nate Alger is the new Grand Traverse County administrator. On Wednesday, the county board of commissioners unanimously approved Alger’s contract. Alger is expected to sign the contract with a starting salary of $124,000 and a start date of July 1.

 

Alger takes over a county that is dealing with instability as it tackles pension debt, suicides in the jail and employee dissatisfaction. Alger says stagnant pay and reduced benefits have caused some animosity with employees in the past, but he plans to work on that.

Whitewater Township

The Whitewater Township board has rejected a plan to allow short-term rentals. The proposal would have allowed residents to build new structures on their lots and rent them out on websites like AirBnb.

The idea came from the township planning commission but it was met with resistance from the community. Residents circulated a petition against the plan and presented it to the board at a meeting Tuesday night.

Google Maps

The argument over short-term rentals has come to Whitewater township. The township’s planning commission wants to relax zoning rules so new rentals can be built on existing residential lots.

Under a new proposal, residents who own at least 30,000 square feet of land could build a second structure on their property. The new structure could be up to 1,200 square feet in size.

The proposal would allow homeowners to rent their new structures on websites like AirBnB.

But township supervisor Ron Popp says it’s a bad idea.

Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County commissioners have picked a local law enforcement official to lead the county. This morning they voted four to three to offer Nate Alger the county administrator job.

Grand Traverse County

The search for Grand Traverse County’s next leader is down to two candidates. County commissioners will choose between a local law enforcement officer and a former state representative from Bay City.

The commission has been searching for a new administrator since the surprise resignation of Vicki Uppal in January. With the help of a consulting firm, the commission has named two finalists for the job – Nate Alger and Thomas Hickner.

Morgan Springer

Following two suicides at the Grand Traverse County jail, county leaders are focusing their attention on mental health services there. That will likely mean the county will spend more money on the jail. In a meeting last night, mental health stakeholders suggested some improvements.

Peter Payette

Plans for a mixed-use development next to the Meijer store in Acme Township may finally be moving forward. The 157-acre “Village at Grand Traverse” has been beset with problems since it was built by Acme Township.

Grand Traverse County

Leaders in Grand Traverse County will wait until a new administrator is hired before they decide how to spend a budget surplus.

The county’s finance director says there’s about an extra $8 million in the budget. The money comes from increased property tax revenue and unforeseen savings in employee health care and the removal of the Boardman River dam.

David Cassleman

Democrats have struggled to find candidates to run for office in Grand Traverse County. 

In recent elections, Democrats let most seats on the county Board of Commissioners go unchallenged. 

Aaron Selbig

A 36-year-old female prisoner, Marilyn Palmer, was found dead in a Grand Traverse County jail cell Wednesday night. This is the second death at the jail in the past year.

Kate Teegardin, Flickr

Over the last three years, many of the Grand Traverse County’s top officials have resigned or been fired, and the county is now looking for its fourth administrator since 2015.

Much of the turmoil stems from the county’s pension debt – the amount of money the county has promised to retired employees. Right now, Grand Traverse County doesn’t have enough money to cover the pension debt.


Grand Traverse County

To an outsider, Grand Traverse County is a picture of success. New homes and businesses are popping up all over Michigan’s third-fastest growing county, and property values are on the rise.

But insiders describe a county government in chaos.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

On Tuesday, The Watershed Center said Grand Traverse Bay was officially frozen. The official designation happens after West Bay is frozen from Traverse City to Power Island for more than 24 hours. Even though that's only a fraction of the bay, that's been the official measurement for over a hundred years.

Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper at The Watershed Center, says the bay didn’t freeze over the last two winters – not since 2015. She says, since 1990, it has only frozen between 20 to 30 percent of the time.

Aaron Selbig

A special prosecutor will handle a jail suicide case in Grand Traverse County. The state attorney general has appointed the Antrim County prosecutor to take over.

Alan Halloway hanged himself in the Grand Traverse County jail last summer. An investigation by Michigan State Police found that corrections officers violated multiple policies and procedures. For example, it took officers three hours to find Halloway dead in his cell; they were supposed to check him every hour. 

Grand Traverse County

The administrator for Grand Traverse County abruptly resigned Wednesday.

Vicki Uppal served as Grand Traverse County administrator for only four months. She took over for Tom Menzel in September, and quickly began shaking things up in the county leadership. 

Grand Traverse County

The Grand Traverse County prosecutor wants an outside attorney to handle a county jail suicide case. Alan Halloway hanged himself in the jail this summer.

Prosecutor Bob Cooney is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to appoint a special prosecutor, because he says he might not appear impartial in the case.

Cooney has advised the county in a lawsuit related to the suicide, and he was the one who charged Halloway with attempted murder this summer.

This summer a man hanged himself to death in the Grand Traverse County jail. Officers found Alan Halloway dead in his cell in July. It took three hours for corrections officers to discover his body. Officers were supposed to check Halloway's cell every hour, but did not do so, according to a report by the Michigan Sheriffs Association.

 


A fired employee from Grand Traverse County has been offered the position of Emmet County administrator. Jennifer DeHaan served as deputy administrator for Grand Traverse County until the county's new administrator, Vicki Uppal, asked her to resign or be fired for “poor performance.”

DeHaan refused to resign, saying the county's issues with her were political and not about performance. She was fired last month.

Commissioners voted 5–2 to offer DeHaan the administrator position last Thursday.

Grand Traverse County

The family of an inmate who committed suicide in the Grand Traverse County jail claims county officials knew the jail posed a suicide risk for inmates but did little to fix it.

2017 northern Michigan election roundup

Nov 8, 2017
Sam Cordon

Please note, these are unofficial election results.

Traverse City commission:

Traverse City commissioner Gary Howe has lost his seat in a tight race. Brian McGillivary, a former Record Eagle reporter, has won a spot on the new commission. 

Morgan Springer

In Traverse City’s East Bay, on the busy hotel strip on U.S. 31, is Don’s Drive In. The pink and turquoise restaurant is known for its burgers and shakes and the fact that it’s kind of old school.

Grand Traverse County

Three volunteer members of Grand Traverse County's Pension Advisory Board submitted their resignations Monday.

The county has a pension debt of more than $50 million. The advisory board is working to identify ways to reduce it and present those findings to county commissioners.

In their letter of resignation the citizen members – Christopher Radu, Robert Zimmerman and Michael Gillman – say, "our recommendations have been solicited, but appear to be ignored."  

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