August 16, 2017 DRAFT Village Council Minutes

The August 2017 Draft Minutes have not been received by Bear Lake News. The following have been supplied to us by a concerned citizen. {a pdf of the Minutes was received 8/31]


Village of Bear Lake Council

REGULAR MEETING August 16, 2017 Bear Lake Village Hall Unapproved Minutes

The regular meeting of the Bear Lake Vii/age Council was called to order by President Jeff Bair at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall. Pledge of Allegiance was said.

Present: President: Jeff Bair Council: Peggy Bass, Marla Evans, Joanne Schroeder, Ron Ronning and Greg McPherson Treasurer: Sally King, Clerk: Cindi McPherson Staff: Jared Bair and Larry Gibson Absent: Jackie Johnson

Guests: Six (6) guests signed in

Motion to Adopt the Agenda as presented with addition by Ronning and seconded by McPherson,

motion carried. Aye: Bass, Evans, G. McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

Public Comment on:

• None

Correspondence: Read by clerk:

• None

REPORTS: Approval July 19, 2017 Regular Meeting:

• Motion to approve minutes from July 19, 2017 Regular Meeting by Bass, seconded by Ronning. Motion Carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, McPherson, Ronning, Bair Nay: None Abstain: Schroeder Absent: Johnson

Maintenance Report: Reviewed by President Bair. Written report on file with August 2017 minutes

Treasurer’s Report: Reviewed by King. Written report on file in the August 2017 minutes binder. King stated property taxes are coming in. Also receiving payments for 3rd quarter water bills. No questions from the council.

General checking/savings total 38,981.64
checking only 29,367.52
Money Market Account 10,067.24
checking/savings total 23,544.68
Park CD#2 33,065.98
Major Street
checking/savings total 33,985.52 Minor Street checking/savings total 16,513.18 Equipment Fund checking/savings total 3,162.68 Honor Bank CD 26,019.74

Motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report by Ronning seconded by McPherson, motion carried. Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

Motion to transfer June’s Equipment Rental $1,258.44 from General Fund back to Park Fund by Ronning, seconded by Evans. Motion Carried. Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

o Amendments to Budget 2017-2018

• A motion was made to approve amendments as listed below to the 2017 2018 budget by McPherson, seconded by Bass. Motion carried. Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson Ronning, Bair Nays: None Absent: Schroeder

Increase Water Equipment Rental to $2,500

Increase Park Salary/Wages to $13K

Increase Park Fee Revenue to $40k

• Increase Major Tree Removal $2,400, from MML Insurance Bills to be paid presented by Clerk. List on file in August 2017 minutes folder. Motion to pay the bills by Ronning, seconded by Evans. Motion carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

• Reimbursements to the General Fund were read by President Bair.

o Wages to General Fund: $3,502.85

o Equipment Rental to General Fund: $521.13

Committee Chair Reports:

Park: President Bair reported campsite reservation are over $40K for the calendar year. McPherson and Park committee will review cancellation fees and campsite fees for 2018. Park committee will discuss & present recommendation at September meeting.

Streets, Trees, Signs, Ughts, Sidewalks: President Bair recommended this committee meet to discuss repaving Cody/Wise Street during water project trepaving & secure bids bids before water project begins.

Water: Ken Micek gave an update on water/well project; everything required is done. Waiting on our attorney Hryns to finish some paper work, no response from him. Micek suggested we ask our current attorney to finish this part. Project has been delayed due to this situation.

Motion was made by McPherson, this week, Friday (8/18/17) will be the deadline for attorney Hryns response on water project. President Bair to follow up with Hryns. If no response, clerk will contact village attorney to begin water project work. President Bair asked the treasurer to look into Flamingo Freeze water hook-up at their current building. Are they paying a water bill or using Correct Compressions water?

Buildings, Grounds & Equipment:

Motion made by McPherson to authorize Wolverine Power to do maintenance on wells -signed one (1) year contract ($490). President Bair stated a generator & shop vac were purchased for well house. Reimbursement to Bair for purchase is in the “Bills to be Paid”. President Bair reported the museum roof by the bathroom is still leaking. Building committee will meet to discuss options.

Blight/CABA: CABA: Manistee County Treasurer, Russ Pomeroy, is preparing a grant application to the Tribal Grant Revenue Sharing (LRBOCl)for help with taking down the Variety Building. Tribel Revenue sharing money available is $110K. Pomeroy is requesting letters of support from businesses, organizations and individuals, would like 100, deadline is 8/20/17. The Revenue Sharing money is to be used for “Safety” projects.

BLIGHT: Gibson report on file in August 2017 minutes folder.

Planning Commission: Chairperson Barb Farfsing gave a report on Planning Commissions July meeting. Report on file in August’s minute folder.

Manistee County Trail Committee Report: McPherson informed us there was no meeting.

Bear Lake Improvement Board: McPherson gave a report, on file in August 2017 minutes file.

Two Lakes Sewer Collaborative: McPherson reported they have not met yet.

Ad Hoc -Policy, Resolution & Ordinance Committee No report Looking for a volunteer student to help out. Working with Jeff Harthun for a possible student.


• Appointment of elected positions Clerk McPherson stated she had not yet heard back from the village attorneys at this time.


• Laura Heintzelman from Manistee County Community Foundation (MCCF) spoke on the on the Blight Fund and preserving the charitable intent for this fund. She has revised the agreement between MCCF, Village of Bear Lake & CABA. And asked the council to make a motion to accept the new agreement. Motion was made by McPherson to accept the newly revised agreement with MCCF & CABA, seconded by Bass. Motion carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

• Rob Carson & Tamara Buskwinka presented on US-31 Corridor Project. They would like support from the council on this project. Motion was made by Ronning to support the US-31 Corridor plan presented by Carson & Bushwinka. Seconded by McPherson. Motion Carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

President Bair spoke on Mead & Hunt’s contract for sampling and testing of Village water good through August 2017. He recommends not extending their contract. Suggests hiring Ben Heymes for this sampling & testing. Heymes would be hired by the village at a possible rate of $25 per hour~ testing would be approx 4 hours week. He currently does this for the village of Mesick. Cross Connection contract is still good through 2019.

Motion by McPherson to not renew the contract with Mead & Hunt for sampling & testing and look for another provider. Seconded by Bass. Motion carried. Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

• Motion by Bass to support for proceeding of winter banners, seconded by McPherson.

Motion carried. Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

• Discussion on employee, Jared Bairs health insurance payment. The village can no longer make his payment for him according to the Affordable Care Act. Motion was made by McPherson to have the clerk & treasurer look for a way to pay for Jared’s insurance. Seconded by Ronning. Motion carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: . none Absent: Johnson

Barb Farfsing spoke on holiday banners in the village. Motion by Ronning for the village to purchase a holiday banner. Seconded by Evans. Motion carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair Nay: none Absent: Johnson

Motion by Bass to amend the budget to allow for the purchase of the holiday banner. Move $150 from communications to seasonal in the General Fund to allow for the purchase. Seconded by Ronning. Motion carried.

Aye : Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair .Nay: none Absent: Johnson

Follow up on item from July monthly meeting.

o Clerk McPherson followed up on FOIA Itemization charge. Because of the statuette the charges on the time frame it takes to look up information on a FOIA request cannot be changed.


• None


Pauline Jacquish spoke on the upcoming 125 anniversary year of Bear Lake celebration. She would like to see music on the deck area for the summer of 2018. And wanted the support of the council. Yes, support by the council. Clarification that the deck is safe to hold lots of people.

Jacquish reported on the Manistee County Auction; White 2 story building in back of Variety Store was sold for $2K, for a kids ministry. Pioneer Press building/house -no bids.

Jacquish reported that AES is in reorganization. City of Manistee withdrew financial support of $40K. Manistee County will continue with $90K support. The village should send in 5 things we want AES to continue to support and what works for us and what does not, by middle of next week

Jacquish reported that 500 individuals came into the museum over Bear Lake Days.

Barb Farfsing would like to see a history plaque “Proud of our Past” at the kayak/canoe launch site or something along that line for the celebration.


Community Garage Sales, Saturday August 19, 2017

Hazardous Waste Collection tor Manistee County, Saturday August l9

• Thursday evening, dinner for the Food Pantry Meeting adjourned at 9:07p.m.

Respectfully Submitted, Cindi McPherson, Clerk


WAGES July 2017

Major Street AMOUNT $191.48

Minor Street AMOUNT $191.48

Park Fund AMOUNT  $2,560.89

Water Fund AMOUNT  $559.00 

Total transfer to General Fund AMOUNT S3,502.85


Major Street $165.32

Minor Street $165.32

Water Fund $190.49

Total transfer to Equipment Fund  $521.13

Bills To Be Paid:

Payee Young, Graham, Wendling PC $400.00
Account # 101-265-801 Notes June and August phone retainer

Jackpine Internet $50.00
Account # 101-265-910 changes to web site

Mark Thompson Tree & Stump $191.25
Account # 101-000-951 brush pickup

TOTAL $641.25


Alliance for Economic Success $207.37
Account # 591-000-890 Vil portion to publish Articles of Inc.

Reimburse Jeff Bair $343.43 Genorator & shop vac

King & MacGregor Environmental $691.20
Account #591-558-801 Bat habitat evaluation

Mead & Hunt $ 2,182.80
Account #591-000-801 June and July 2017

Jackpine Business Center $52.11
Account #591-558-727 widow envelopes

TOTAL $3,476.91


Young, Graham, Wendling, PC  $64.00
Account #531-000-970  
Resolution to purchase “Oddfellowsprop

Staples Credit Plan $155.84
Account #531-000-740  cardstock & soap dispenser

BL Ace Hardware $163.02
Account #531-000-775  maintenance supplies

BP $50.83
Account #531-000-775  fuel

TOTAL 433.69


BP $50.82
Account #202-265-776  fuel

Mark Thompson Tree & Stump $600.00
Account #202-200-951  1/2 tree removal 7983 Lake Street

Auto-Wares Group $11.48
Account #202-463-782  oil for sander

TOTAL $662.30


BP $50.82
Account #203-265-776  fuel

Auto-Wares Group $11.47

Account #203-463-782  fuel

TOTAL $62.29


July, 2017 Village Council Meeting Minutes and Sewer question

The Minutes for July 19 were approved without corrections at the August 16, 2017 Meeting.

As the public was unable to attend via conference call the following was not corrected.

“• Judy Phann from Onekama Township spoke on the sewer project & her belief it is in the best interest of the areas involved.”

The following was read by Judith Spohn of Concerned Citizen of Portage Lake and has been provided to Bear Lake News:

Onekama Township spearheaded this multi-municipality sewer authority beginning in April 2015. This action became necessary because the Portage Point Inn developer is in violation with the DEQ.

The violation notice is because the current septic system at the Inn is at capacity, therefore the developer CAN NOT build, install or renovate anything that requires additional waste water disposal.

The violation notice gave the developer two options:

1. Install a Sequencing Batch Reactor or

2. Connect to the Onekama Village sewage treatment facility. The second option, connecting to the Onekama Village system, was explored and is able to be done with the installation of an additional pond. The cost to the developer would be about $2 million.

Remember, this is an infrastructure cost that is the responsibility of the developer, not that of the surrounding communities.

Because the per capita income of Onekama Township is too high to qualify for grant money, a new sewer district was created. The new sewer district had to specifically include Arcadia Township and Bear Lake Village to lower the per capita income level and make grant money to build a sewer system more likely available.

NOTE, there is no guarantee that grant money will be available.

Arcadia Township has voted NO to this sewer authority because they had done a needs study that found a sewer system was not required at this time AND they want to be in control of their cost for sewage disposal rather than granting that power to a separate political entity. As well, and of equal importance, a majority of Arcadia residents agreed that they had no responsibility to pay for the Portage Point Inn developer’s sewer cost.

The Two Lake Collaborative Sewer Authority is to operate under Act 233 of the State of Michigan. Act 233 gives only ONE chance for the public to have a voice in the decision making.

That chance comes when your Township[Village] has authorized, by Resolution, signing a contract with the Two Lakes Sewer Authority for management of the project.

After the Resolution is adopted, theTownship[Village] must publish a notice of the Resolution in the newspaper (Manistee Advocate) and state that there is a right to a referendum on the contract to manage the sewer system.

The resolution will not become effective until 45 days after it is passed.

If within this 45 days period, a petition signed by not less than 10% or 15,000, whichever is less, of the registered voters residing within the limits of the municipality is filed with the Clerk requesting a referendum upon the contract, the contract shall not become effective until approved by the VOTE OF A MAJORITY of the qualified voters of the municipality voting on the question at a general or special election. (MCl 124.288).


-TheTownship[Village] must decide whether it will become an incorporator of the Sewer Authority by approving the Articles of Incorporation. THIS IS NO SMALL DEAL.

-It appears to be sold as just a means to get the USDA Rural Development Grant application done, but it is more than that.

-The Articles of Incorporation create the Sewer Authority which is a POLITICAL ENTITY with all the powers and liabilities that go along with it including the right to be sued.

-By becoming a part of the Sewer Authority, theTownship[Village] becomes part of a political entity.

-A VOTE OF A MAJORITY OF THE MUNICIPALITIES (3 out of 4) has the power to pass resolutions that will affect ALL of the municipalities.

-Strangely, ACCORDING TO THE ARTICLES OF FINCORPORATION, the purpose of the Sewer Authority includes creating the sewage disposal system, but specifically includes transporting the wastewater for treatment at the facilities of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

-This is concerning, because the USDA Rural Development Grant Application



-Finally, as stated “A participating local unit of government can stop participation at any time” is misleading. Once a Township[Village] joins the Sewer Authority, it cannot withdraw once the Authority has incurred debt unless it receives the CONSENT OF THE CREDITORS and on the terms, including financial terms, of the creditors.


Special Village of Bear Lake Council Meeting tonight, 6pm, August 23, 2017

will be having a Special Meeting on:
Plow Truck Grant
Employee Insurance
Village Office Hours
Meeting date: Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Meeting Time: 6pm
Location: Bear Lake Village Hall
12376 Virginia Street
Bear Lake, Michigan 49614

Persons with disabilities needing accommodations for effective participation in the public hearing/public meeting should contact the Bear Lake Village Clerk at 231.970.2066 or at the above 18 hours in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance.

Cindi McPherson
Village Clerk
August 22, 2017 posted

Note: the request for reasonable accommodation via speakerphone service has been confirmed.

Bear Lake Village Council meetings may now be accessed via telephone conference call.

Date:Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Phone number:1.302.202.1107 (this maybe a long distance call with charges for some – in which case we suggest calling in via Skype or Google VOIP service)
Conference Code: 149002
Please observe the Meeting protocols.

No Village Council recording tonight

Our apologies – the Village did not activate its conference line. If you tried to call in and got no response please let us know?

A noise cancelling microphone had been donated and delivered to the Village Treasurer today.

On Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 3:38 PM, Cindi McPherson, Clerk <> wrote:

There is no meeting at 6:30pm this evening.

I have no dates, times or locations of meeting nor any minutes for the sewer meetings..
If and when I do receive those I will add them to the calendar. I am not sure how the minutes will be shared.
We will not be using the device you dropped off as we use our office phone for the call in.
You can pick it up during regular business hours
From: “Cindi McPherson, Clerk” <>
Date: August 16, 2017 at 5:36:51 PM EDT
Subject: Re: Bear Lake council meet Aug 16, 2017

We have provide reasonable accommodations; a phone call-in service with our office phone (as your group has requested) for individuals to call in.  The phone is placed in the center of the table.  There are not emails or texts coming through but possibly other individuals calling in that gives a tone.

And as you stated the 302 area code is for conference calls, just a reminder, some calls could be charged.

Cindi McPherson, Clerk

PROPOSED AGENDA Village of Bear Lake Council Meeting August 16, 2017

Many individuals complained about the audio quality of last month’s meeting. A noise cancelling microphone has been donated if someone would be willing to take it to tomorrow night’s meeting and give it to the Council for future use.

[Update: Thank you to the two residents who delivered the microphone to the Village Treasurer this morning 8/16 for use in tonight’s and all future broadcast meetings.]


Village of Bear Lake Council Meeting

August 16, 2017

7:00 p.m. – Village Hall

PUBLIC COMMENT: Any agenda item ONLY (two (2)-minute maximum)
Note: Members of the public will speak only when recognized by the chair person.

 Regular Meeting July 19, 2017
 Approval of Treasurer’s Report

 Amendments:

o Water Ordinance – held from June meeting
o CABA :
o Blight Enforcement Officer report:
 AD HOC COMMITTEE: Policy, Resolution &amp; Ordinance Committee – No report
 Appointment of elected positions

 Laura Heintzelman from AES – CABA
 Rob Carson &amp; Tamara Buswinka – US 31 corridor
 Mead &amp; Hunt – Ben
 Holiday banner purchase
Follow up on items from July’s council meeting:
 FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization changes.

PUBLIC COMMENT: General Time – Any Village-related item (two (2)-minute maximum)
Note: Members of the public will speak only when recognized by the chair person.
Items on agenda or not listed
 Community Garage Sales, Saturday, August 19

WAGES July 2017 Amounts

Major Street $191.48
Minor Street $191.48
Park Fund $2560.89
Water Fund $559.00
TOTAL $3502.85
EQUIPMENT RENTAL July 2017 Amounts
Major Street $165.32
Minor Street $165.32
Water Fund $190.49
TOTAL $521.13

Financial implications of infrastructure projects

A reminder – the function of this news media is to provide information not pass judgement.

No one in this community is opposed to progress but how to pay for, and ensure a fair and equitable financial distribution and timeline requires basic financial information. In order for residents to give proper consideration to their potential financial obligations a full disclosure is preferred.

The graphic above comes from this official web site


The following is a depiction of actual financial data supplied by the Village in it’s accounting spreadsheets.

There are 3 major infrastructure projects being proposed.

The costs are divided by the latest official US Census figures.

Obviously the actual sewer transmission costs will depend on the extent of service connections within the Village and whether transmission is gravity or pumped fed. One item of concern in the preliminary language lists REU’s by Lot, not parcel. The final household obligation will depend on the ratio of loan to grant funding, connection fees and unfunded obligations to remove prior septic systems plus necessary household electrical upgraded.

village financial position

The Village amended it’s budget in June:

  • At the request of the USDA & Rural Development, repayment of loan for construction of new DPW building (approx.. $310k over 30 yrs.) must be amended into the 2017-2018 Village Budget. Loan repayment per month approx.. $1,225-$1500) ▪ Motion to amend the budget for repayment of DPW building in 2017-2018 Budget as follows: General $1,800, Water $7,200, Park $1,800, Major $3,600, Minor $3,600, by Bass, seconded by McPherson. Motion Carried 

A member of the Bear Lake News Board asked for more information concerning this item.

Hi Cindi
The June meeting of the Village Council indicates that a request was made by the USDA and Rural Development that the Village amend the Budget to reflect the monthly loan repayment for the new DPW building. I would like to formally request copies of any and all documents sent to the Village by the USDA and Rural Development regarding this matter.
Thank you

This was the response:

From: “Cindi McPherson, Clerk” <>
Date: July 14, 2017 at 2:12:43 PM EDT
I received a call from AES which stated we needed to show repayment of the loan for the DPW building in our budget.  There were no documents involved.
Cindi McPherson, Clerk
Village of Bear Lake
And in response:
Thanks for your prompt response, Cindi. Sounds like will have to FOIA from USDA and Rural Development as I am sure they would have to put a requirement such as this in writing.
I’m surprised that the Village would not want something in writing to back up the request and the need to amend the budget.
July 11:

Good afternoon,

we are concerned about this item in the June Village of Bear Lake Minutes:
  1. “At the request of the USDA & Rural Development, repayment of loan for construction of new DPW building (approx.. $310k over 30 yrs.) must be amended into the 2017- 2018 Village Budget. Loan repayment per month approx.. $1,225-$1500)▪ Motion to amend the budget for repayment of DPW building in 2017-2018 Budget as follows: General $1,800, Water $7,200, Park $1,800, Major $3,600, Minor $3,600, by Bass, seconded by McPherson. Motion Carried

Yays: Bass, Evans, Johnson. McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair

Nays: None”

Under Michigan Freedom of Information Act Public Act 563 of 2014:

Please tell us, when did discussions commence regarding this loan? When was this discussed at a public meeting? As this intends to place an escrow and commit the General Fund does this require a published Notice of Intent? Does this loan require a renegotiation of the Qualifying Statement to authorize exceeding the Village debt to revenue ratio?

Vern Best

No response was received other than that already posted here REVISED FOIA Request Response Letter (2)

Here are the proposed construction plans:



Changes to FOIA policy

The reasonable rights of residents to ask and receive information about how their local government expends their taxes would seem to be a given.

In the majority of local governments, open and transparent 2 way communication between the elected and those who elected them is seen as both a public responsibility of service.

At the July meeting the following was enacted:

  • FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization/FOIA Policy & Summary
  •  A motion was made to change the wording from 15 minutes to one (1) minute increments (where it applies) when charging for a FOIA request for Labor Cost, by Bass, seconded by Johnson. Motion carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson Ronning, Bair

Nay: none

Absent: Schroeder

  • Second motion to FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization/FOIA Policy & Summary o A motion was made to start new price change immediately on FOIA Detailed Cost Itemization by Bass, seconded by Johnson. Motion Carried.

Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Bair

Nay: none

Absent: Schroeder

Although the audio recording is poor, a proviso was made to have a legal opinion on this matter before instituting.

This cost itemization is now published to the Village web site.


Changing status of an elected to an appointed postion

In the July Minutes the following was discussed:

  • Clerk discussed possibility of changing Clerk & Treasurer’s positions from elected to appointed. Discussion was held clerk will follow up with information to the council.

In response to this issue from July 19 meeting:

Change the position of clerk and/or treasurer from elected to appointed. (MCL 62.1) The proposed ordinance requires adoption by a vote of two-thirds of the council. It cannot take effect for 45 days following adoption, during which time a petition signed by 10 percent of the registered voters can force a referendum on the issue.
Sample ordinances to appoint the clerk and treasurer are available in Appendices 6 and 7 of the Michigan Municipal League GLV Handbook. Page 111
The Village of (Name of Village) ordains:
Section 1. Establishment of office As authorized by section 1(3) chapter II of the General Law Village Act (1895 PA 3, as amended), the village clerk shall be chosen by nomination by the village president and appointment by a majority vote of the village council.
Section 2. Term of office The term of office of the village clerk shall be two years, beginning [date], after the clerk’s appointment.
Section 3. Effective date This ordinance shall take effect 45 days after the date of its adoption, unless a petition signed by not less than ten percent of the registered electors of the village is filed with the acting village clerk or village office within such 45 days. If a petition is filed within such period of time, this ordinance shall then take effect only upon its approval at the next general village or special village election held on the question of whether the ordinance shall be approved. Notice of the delayed effect of this ordinance and the right of petition under this section shall be published separately at the same time and in the same manner as the ordinance or a notice of the ordinance is published in a local newspaper of general circulation.
Section 4. Adoption This ordinance shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the village council.
Section 5. Publication The village clerk shall certify to the adoption of this ordinance and cause the same to be published as required by law.

Requesting information concerning the proposed Water Improvement Project

On Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 4:24 PM, Trudgeon, Sonya – RD, East Lansing, MI <>wrote:

July 18, 2017

TO:                        Mr. Vern Best

Dear Mr. Best:

This is to update you on the status of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request that was received in our office on June 22, 2017.  In accordance with Executive Order 12600, Rural Development is required to notify the submitters of commercial and financial information when it receives a FOIA Request for records that have been submitted to the Government.  In this case, the Village of Bear Lake.  The Village of Bear Lake is currently reviewing the information from the USDA Rural Development.

The USDA, Rural Development, considered your request for a fee waiver.  In your email of June 28, 2017, you requested a fee waiver stating that you are a disabled Vietnam veteran living on social security.  The FOIA allows fees to be waived or reduced if disclosure of the information is deemed to be in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of the operations or activities of the Government, and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.  The Government in this context is referring to the Federal Government.  The disclosure of documents you have requested regarding Village of Bear Lake does not contribute significantly to the understanding of the Federal Government.

Please understand a significant amount of search time and the amount of paper records involved in your request.  The USDA, Rural Development, was just the financial institution for the loans/grants, and the number of pages we find responsive to your request are currently at approximately 895 pages.  The fee that can be access to this request, for the records/pages, is at $0.20 per page.  In addition, the Loan Specialists that have done the research to locate the records have spent approximately 2 hours.  The fee that can be accessed to this request, for search time, is the employee wages plus 16% times the number of hours.  Before we are able to process this request any further, please advise if you are willing to pay the amount.  Your payment will be required before the records can be released.

Failure to receive an response regarding the fees within a reasonable timeframe will be construed as a willingness to pay the fees that will be accessed on this FOIA request.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me only and directly at or via telephone at 517-324-5193.

Sonya K. Trudgeon

Management Control Officer | FOIA Coordinator

July 20:

Good morning Ms. Trudgeon,
obviously none of us can afford the proposed FOIA fees.

It is highly unfortunate that so little information on this major expenditure has been shared with Village residents and property owners.
Therefore we amend our FOIA request.
Under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA) and USDA regulations (7 Coded of Federal Regulations, Part 1, Subpart A) 
Request for electronic copies of documents relating to Village of Bear Lake proposed water system improvement project.
1. We are requesting a copy of the official letter guaranteeing a grant/loan has been awarded in FY2017-18
2. We are requesting USDA RD listing of where the Village of Bear Lake Water System upgrade fall in the Preferred Priority List for Michigan.
3. As the Village states that engineering plans have been approved, we request a copy of the official letter stating that.
Vern Best, Tim Burke, Daniel Heiss, Jeanne Walsh, Alan Swanson, Janene Gee

July 26, 2017

TO:                        Mr. Vern Best

Dear Mr. Best:

This is in response to your revised FOIA request that was received by this office on July 20, 2017, in which you revised your request to the following:  Request for electronic copies of documents relating to Village of Bear Lake proposed water system improvement project and the Village of Bear Lake proposed purchase of a snow plow.

  1. Requesting a copy of the official letter guaranteeing a grant/loan has been awarded in FY2017-2018
  2. Requesting USDA RD listing of where the Village of Bear Lake water system upgrade fall in the preferred priority list for Michigan
  3. Request a copy of the official letter stating that the engineering plans have been approved

Please see the attached response letter to this request.  The response letter closes the revised FOIA request 2017-RD-05215-F.

REVISED FOIA Request Response Letter


July 27:

Good morning Ms. Trudgeon,

On behalf of all the Village residents who are requesting this information thank you.
We are also cc’ing Mr. Smith on this reply.
1. Our request to know if funding has been guaranteed in this fiscal year relates not to the snow plow application but to the proposed water project for the Village of Bear Lake as you had previously stated there were almost 900 pages concerning current communication between USDA, Fleis & Vandenbrink and the Village of Bear Lake. Again we would like to express our concern at the lack of substantive information given to Village residents.
2. Does USDA no longer publish a Preferred Project List, showing the points awarded in descending order for water and sewer applications?
3. If there have been changes to the scope and plans for this proposed water system project which will/may affect final costs where can we obtain that information to share with Village residents and property owners? I trust you would agree this is public information?
4. Also we would like to emphasize again that we have received a written confirmation from the Village of Bear Lake Clerk we will receive immediate notification of the publication of the bid package and information of how to access the proposed bid documents to review . Again we trust you will agree this is public information?
5. Funds for the Village of Bear Lake water system project may have been obligated in 2016 but obviously we are now in a different fiscal year and a different political and financial climate. As property owners we are merely trying to get information of the exact cost and what will happen should the bids come back in excess of the actual USDA funds that are available – particularly in the form of grant.
Vern Best
cc: J Walsh, L Vission, T Burke, D Heiss, A Swanson, J Gee, Bear Lake News

August 2, 2017

TO:                        Mr. Vern Best

Dear Mr. Best:

Attached is a response letter and any records responsive to your revised FOIA request that is below.  As stated in the attached letter, FOIA Request 2017-RD-05212-F is considered closed.  Any additional FOIA requests received will be considered a new FOIA request, a new time frame will be used, and a new FOIA request number will be assigned.

Sonya K. Trudgeon

REVISED FOIA Request Response Letter (2)