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First Council Meeting of '23 Held in G.R.

Updated: Jan 14

Grand Rapids council members, village employees, and the mayor met for the first council meeting of 2023 in front of a rather large audience.

The meeting was held Monday, January 9 at the old fire hall in Grand Rapids. Council drew seats and elected councilwoman Rachel Smith as council president.

A motion was made to pay bills in the amount of $89,073.71 from December 9, 2022 through December 31, 2022 and January 1, 2023 through January 5, 2023. All members voted to approve with councilwoman Lynn Sylvain voting "no" due to no receipts being attached. The motion passed.

The Wood County Sheriff’s Office presented its report to council. Mayor John Berry inquired about speeding complaints on Front Street. The sheriff’s deputy in attendance stated there were 21 traffic stops in the village limits for the month of December.

Mayor Berry delivered statements on council working better together in 2023 and mentioned projects that need to be done in 2023. Some of those include beautification, parking, and repairing sidewalks. The mayor also stated that Bowling Green may be raising water rates which could effect rates in Grand Rapids. The mayor went on to say that an increase is not certain but it could happen.

Visitors were also present during the meeting, including a project presentation from students of Otsego Junior High, David Fowler, and Doug Grey.

Mr. Grey inquired about the village adopting a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA). Grey said he envisioned people getting a drink from one of the area restaurants and watching the sunset on the towpath, not getting “trashed” and causing problems. Council responded and indicated they are interested in adopting such a program but will need to figure out where the perimeters would be, how to handle the parks, and seek advice from the sheriff and other communities who have adopted DORA.

Mr. Fowler addressed council and attempted to deliver statements from a letter he wrote for presentation. Mayor Berry requested the letter be brought to him first before it gets read out loud. Fowler replied that he didn’t believe the letter needed to be brought to the mayor first. Councilwoman Sylvain then stated that the first amendment would allow Fowler to state his opinion due to it being a public meeting.

Fowler explained the letter was about community spirit and council coming together to work for the good of the community. Fowler stated many meetings in 2022 became hostile and uncomfortable. The mayor and Fowler came to an agreement that the letter would be passed out to those who would like to read it. Councilwoman Sylvain then stated that there was no reason he couldn’t read it out loud during the meetings. A copy of the letter is below.

Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m. inside the old fire station on Front Street. All meetings are open to the public.

(Our thanks to David Fowler for assisting Towpath Media by audio recording the village meeting.)

Resident Peggy Seab also presented a document to council.

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